Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Balkans: Croats and Serbs can never find common language

Lyuba Lulko

A rally under the slogan "No to Cyrillic in Croatia" was held in Zagreb and Vukovar on April 7th and by various estimates was attended by 20 to 40 thousand people. The reputation of the country that will join the EU on July 1st is under threat. Of course, it has nothing to do with the Cyrillic alphabet, but rather with the fact that hatred towards the Serbs in Croatia is encouraged at the religious, national and European levels.
In connection with the entry into the European Union, Croatia must respect the rights of the national minorities who are entitled to officially use their own language and alphabet in the cities and regions where their number is over 33 percent of the population. According to the latest census, Serbs have this right in 21 districts in two cities - Vukovar (35 percent) and Vrbovsko, portal Senica www.senica.ru reported. The federal government authority applies only to road signs at the entrance to the city and signage in public institutions. And yet, the response of the population, according to the size and aggressiveness of rallies, is very tough and does not meet the EU standards of tolerance.

Of course, it is not about the Cyrillic alphabet that is dying in Serbia, but the fact that it is a symbol of the Serbian Orthodoxy, unacceptable to the heirs of the Ustaše. The rallies in Zagreb and Vukovar on Sunday were organized by veterans of military conflict of 1991-1995. These are the so-called "Commonwealth soldiers of Croatian defense" and the "Committee to Protect Croatian Vukovar". However, leaders of nationalist right-wing parties were seen among the protesters. They stood at the origins of the Croatian military forces during the war - the Croatian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Croatian Party of Rights (HSP). These are the people behind the veterans, the Serbian press believes.

The decision to impose the Cyrillic alphabet in the areas where at least a third of the population are Serbs not only fully complies with the EU norms, but also with the Croatian Constitution of 2002. Moreover, the item about introduction of a dual writing system was included in the City Charter of Vukovar back in 2009. But the Croats do not abide by law, as they allow this for the Italians, but never the Serbs. This is the message of the protesters to the government. They even demanded a revision of the results of the 2011 Census because they do not believe that there are that many Serbs in Vukovar.

The conflict is loaded with fatal offenses, centuries-old conflict between the Serbs and Croats, two Slavic peoples with a single language but different faiths. It was the religious differences that have caused the collapse of the once prosperous country - Yugoslavia. Suffice it to recall the statement of Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, Archbishop of Zagreb during the Second World War: "The Croats and Serbs are of two different worlds, two different poles; they will never find a common language, unless a miracle of God happens. This schism is the greatest evil in Europe, maybe even greater than Protestantism. There is no morality, no principles, no truth, no justice, no honesty ... "

In post-war history the Croats cannot forget the army siege of Vukovar and Dubrovnik in Yugoslavia in 1991. After the fall of Vukovar, it became part of the unrecognized Republic of Serbian Krajina transferred to Croatia in 1998. As a result of the ethnic cleansing of the Serbian Krajina in 1995 known as "Operation Lightning" and " Operation Tempest," the Serbian population in Croatia declined significantly (according to the census in 2011 to 400 thousand people). Vukovar became a symbol of Croatian nationalism.

A leader of veterans warned the authorities that if before November 18 (the day when the troops of the Yugoslav Army occupied Vukovar) there is no law declaring it a "city of eternal memory where Cyrillic will never be imposed," they should not show up there, wrote portal Senica. Priest Ante Perkovic also spoke at the rally, which once again confirms the role of the Catholic Church in inciting ethnic hatred. Several nationalist songs were performed by scandalous Marko Perkovic, known as "Thompson" (after the American machine gun of the Second World War period). His songs are popular among Croatian nationalists, but especially among the Ustaše - Croatian Nazis who fought for the Third Reich. Thompson's concerts are regularly attended by many leading Croatian politicians and the government leaders.

Since the announcement of the independence in 1992, the Croatian government has consistently pursued ideological rehabilitation of the Ustaše. The Official Zagreb diminishes the scale of their crimes in the media, condones renaming of streets in their honor. In fact, the recent rallies against Cyrillic (incidentally, canceled in Croatia in 1941 by Ante Pavelic) suggest that the genocide against Serbs continues to this day.

How did Croatia become a member of the European Union if claims in respect of no return of Serb refugees were made against it? What will the Croatian government do under the pressure of nationalists, given the upcoming local elections in May? Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said that bilingual signs would be posted in Vukovar after the European Parliament elections in 2014. "The law is the law and we will defend it," Milanovic says now.

As for the EU, its unofficial motto "Strong Europe - Weak Serbia" has not been canceled. This is evidenced by the verdict of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) that justified Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac, and hence all the former leadership of Croatia who committed crimes against Serbs in the Serbian Krajina. Gotovina and Markac were accused of these numerous crimes against Serbs committed during the "Operation Storm" in 1995. In April of 2011, they were sentenced by an international court, to 24 and 18 years in prison, respectively. Last year, however, the ICTY Appeals Chamber found them not guilty.