An initiative, by nature and intent profoundly ominous for peace and freedom to develop and enjoy the relatively newly created states that broke away from communist Yugoslavia in 1990’s as prosperous sovereign entities, was launched in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina) on March 30th by notables and NGOs, however notorious or not, marked a major effort to bolster a politically disquieting consensus that Croats, Serbs, Bosniaks, and Montenegrins all speak the same language, thus erode each of the existing major four distinct (regardless of any commonalities) languages used – Croat, Serb, Bosniak, Montenegrin. All who in desperation for freedom and democracy have often argued into deaf ears that the Balkan region is riddled with political barbarians that huddle together with the view to keeping the decrepit and failed Yugoslav region alive as unified in one form another, including fusing all the different national groups into one, have, regretfully, on March 30th tucked another feather in their told-you-so cap.
Last time I checked the Declaration’s website, “Languages and Nationalisms” project some 228 people (a crew from former Yugoslav states evidently joined at the hip by the distinctly destructive and freakish streaks of “my nationality is Yugoslav” surging demeanour) have signed the Declaration. The Declaration seeks, among other demands, the abolishing of all linguistic segregation and discrimination in the educational and public institutions; the stopping of repressive, unnecessary and damaging practice of separating the languages; cessation of rigid definitions of standard variations (among languages); the avoidance of unnecessary, senseless and expensive ‘translations’ in court and administrative practices as well as in means of public information…
The Declaration claims that most of the former Yugoslav nations speak different variations of the same language and it stands to good reason and justice that it has been met with official outrage across the region. Opponents of the Declaration, rightly, see the initiative as reviving the ghost of the former Yugoslavia, one of whose official languages was at points in time and as form of Yugoslav communist oppression Serbo-Croatian. The signatories of the Declaration did not openly promote a “Serbo-Croatian” language and say they are comfortable with different versions of the same language having different names: Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Montenegrin. The problem here is that they do appear promote Serb linguistic forms immersed thorough single words in the very text explaining the Languages and Nationalisms Project on their website and that in itself is unshakeably indicative of the underlying political bias and underhanded attempts to keep the “Serb language forms” at a superior level to the other three, just as it used to be in the days of communist Yugoslavia.
When it comes to its implications for Croatia the Declaration could well represent an attempt to undermine the Croatian language as the only official language of the nation and install the Serbian language as another official language in the country not just in pockets of the country where the Serb ethnic minority population is or exceeds the 34% as stipulated in the constitutional law. The threads that keep Greater-Serbia expansion in the region are foully intricate indeed. To beef up this conclusion one only needs to ponder upon and weigh-up politically the sickening fact where Croatia’s Minister for Culture, Nina Obuljen, had last week sent two signatories of the Sarajevo Declaration from Croatia – writers Slobodan Snajder and Damir Karakas – as Croatia’s representatives at the Leipzig book fair! It goes without saying that this move of hers suggests that she too rides the train that transports those who would have the world believe that the Croatian language does not really exist in its own right. Given that Croatia has hundreds of writers, language professionals and academics who have toiled for decades even within the communist Yugoslavia to retain the Croatian language as a pure and distinct language of the Croatian nation, Minister Obuljen’s move can truly be considered perverse and insulting – politically and otherwise.
When asked about the Declaration a day before it was made public, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic responded with questions about the need for such an initiative: “How could I support that [declaration]? Who in Croatia can support it?” What else can one expect from the PM who, faced with the outrage against the Declaration among the Croatian people, just does not act as if he possesses the fight necessary for Croatian interests.
Plenkovic added – feebly: “The Croatian language is defined in our constitution. Croatian is one of the official languages of the EU. That’s the only thing that matters to me. There is no need to waste words on sundry informal initiatives.” Well, how about defending the Croatian language when attacked, Prime Minister!
The former Croatian culture minister and current Member of Croatian Parliament, Zlatko Hasanbegovic, used strong language to denounce the Sarajevo Declaration as “a wolf howl of Yugoslav nationalists for their lost country.” On the ball – Hasanbegovic!
To illustrate the political depravity among signatories of the Sarajevo Declaration among Croats one only needs to visit the words of the largely mistrusted and seemingly dangerously anti-Croatian independence politically biased Croatian journalist Ante Tomic, when he asked rhetorically in his regular column in Jutarnji List whether “we are so stupid that we cannot memorise more than one word for a certain thing.” Tomic added that through a language policy based on “pure Croatian,” the state is not only controlling its subjects but also creating confusion and stoking animosity against ethnic Serbs. “I signed [the Sarajevo Declaration] because it is a measure of reconciliation and it recognises and includes everyone. It affirms differences, and allows for the fact that one thing can be called by many names, and that we all speak the same language, which is variously named Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian, or Montenegrin,” Tomic said.
How a Declaration such as the Sarajevo one, claiming that distinctly different languages are one single language, can be a measure of reconciliation is only clear (albeit wickedly to my taste) to Tomic and other signatories of the Declaration. Successful reconciliation unconditionally depends on the truth and there is no underlying truth in this Declaration except the one that points to the worn-out mantra “tell lies often enough and they become the truth”. This is a cause worth fighting against. Ina Vukic