Reverence For Croatian Victims Of Serb Aggression: Vote Trashes Use Of Serbian Cyrillic In Vukovar

Bilingual signs with Serbian Cyrillic Removed from Vukovar's public buildings Photo: G. Panic

Bilingual signs with Serbian Cyrillic
Removed from Vukovar’s public buildings
Photo: G. Panic


This is a big move towards making solid steps for peace and healing of victims of Serb aggression and atrocities against Croats and non-Serbs in Vukovar in the early 1990’s. Those who oppose the “step” will call it by any other name except one that has even a tiny bit of positiveness in it; they will call it recist, denial of human rights, denial of minority rights and such.

The Vukovar City Council on Monday 17 August 2015 adopted amendments to the city Statute as per August 2014 Constitutional Court ruling that handed instructions to determine, within one year, in which of the city’s neighbourhoods bilingual signs can be displayed.
In the amendments the City Council of Vukovar voted constitute changes of the Statute of the city so that it no longer provides for the existence of bilingual signs, and Cyrillic alphabet, on the city’s and government institutions, squares and streets. The changes were adopted on the initiative of the Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ, the leading party in Vukovar local government. Serbian political representatives and the Councillors of the Social Democratic Party, the strongest party in the national government, unsuccessfully opposed the decision.
For a couple of years now much has happened in Vukovar with protests against bilingual (Croatian and Serbian) signs on public buildings and streets etc. Bilingual signs containing Serb Cyrillic were systematically pulled down, smashed and generally rejected by the Croats living in Vukovar. The Committee for the defence of Croatian Vukovar and their supporters, who represent the victims of Serb mass murders, rapes, destruction say that Cyrillic symbolically represents the utter terror and the horror inflicted upon innocent Croats in Vukovar as they went about seceding from communist Yugoslavia, seeking through democratic peaceful processes their freedom and democracy.

As was expected Serbia and some of Croatia’s antifascist riff-raff have protested against these amendments in Vukovar City Statute and have called them racist as well as denying human rights to minorities. Their protest also touches upon the decision in these amendments of the Statute of Vukovar to introduce charges of 3 Euro for any council document issued in Cyrillic at special request by an applicant.


Vukovar’s people who are behind the moves against the Serbian Cyrillic on public buildings, streets etc. and the councillors of the ruling coalition defended the amendments to the Statute which were proposed by city mayor Ivan Penava (HDZ) and all of these supporters continue seeking and calling for a new census. The last census, they say, was fraudulent and had many more Serbs who lived in Serbia, not Vukovar, recorded as living in Vukovar. Busloads of people from Serbia had come to Vukovar at time of census, falsely declared their residence there and then after went back to Serbia. All this in efforts to make-up the necessary minimum of 34% of population in a place needed to introduce bilingual signage on public buildings etc.! If that percentage is based on fraud – and all evidence argued and provided to the public so far seems to point that way – then those councillors in Vukovar that reject accepting that fraudulent census result as its benchmark for the introduction of bilingual signage are absolutely in the right!


There has been no information yet on how the government will react to the amendments made to Vukovar’s Statute, to the complaints made by the Serb Ethnic Minority Council and criticism coming out of Serbia calling the Vukovar council’s move racist, and in breach of human rights of minorities.


As regards Cyrillic signs in Vukovar the government has the possibility to directly enforce laws, bypassing the city statute, but the question is how much that would be in line with the ruling of the Constitutional Court instructing the government to propose to the parliament, within a period of one year, amendments to the Law on the Use of Languages and Scripts of Ethnic Minorities, including mechanisms for cases when local self-government bodies obstruct the right to bilingualism.


Along with the Serb Ethnic Minority Council of Vukovar, also dissatisfied with the amendments to the Vukovar City Statute is the Serb National Council (SNV), whose leaders on Monday described them as unconstitutional and unlawful and said that they would notify the relevant institutions in Croatia, as well as the EU, the Council of Europe and the UN.


They can write to EU and UN “till the cows come home” but they have no case! Vukovar council decision was in respect of human rights: those of the victims!


EU ParliamentBesides, Tove Ernst, European Commission Press Officer, reportedly said to Serbia’s news agency Tanjug and responding to a plea to the European Commission to comment on the abolition of the Cyrillic alphabet in Croatian city of Vukovar: “the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU bans discrimination based on minority status. However, the Commission has no overall authority with regard to minorities, especially in relation to the issue of recognition of the status of minorities, their self-determination and autonomy, and the use of regional or minority languages.” According to her, the Member States retain a general power to make decisions about minorities and the provisions of the Charter of fundamental rights concern the EU Member States only when they implement EU laws.
The Vukovar Council said it supported full application of the Constitutional Law on the Rights of Ethnic Minorities and the Law on the Use of Minority Languages and Scripts and warned that minority rights must not depend on daily politics. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Smearing Will Not Stick To Kolinda – She Is A Leader

Croatian presidential candidate Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on "Sunday at 2" TV program 21 September 2014 Photo: Screen shot

Croatian presidential candidate
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
on “Sunday at 2” TV program 21 September 2014
Photo: Screen shot

Rushed, half-baked backroom deals that are doomed to wither away into economic impact nothingness, slow chipping away at corruption by processing “top dogs” instead of building anti-corruption monitoring in all places of public office, or measures of nationalistic pride will not save Croatia from economic bankruptcy and social disintegration. Leadership will!

Presidential Candidate Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic is a leader; she has proven that and she commands respect as such. What’s more important is that she is a champion of democratic thought and action – something Croatian society needs.

The fact that she is widely perceived as a leader is reflected in the campaign of smears against her, evidently waged, either directly or indirectly through the control of the media by the current president Ivo Josipovic’s camp. A campaign of smears is usually associated with the distribution of negative labels intended to slander a prominent political figure or categorise him/her into a less valuable or unwelcome ‘category’ of people.

Some months ago when the possibility of Kolida Grabar-Kitarovic becoming a candidate at the coming presidential elections the smear campaign against her focused on sexist remarks such as “she is a good looking woman but”, “she is a pretty, blonde woman who knows what she wants”, “she has advanced in her career with the ease of ‘knife sliding through soft butter’”. As her candidacy became more and more likely she was labeled ‘Barbie’! She stood her ground as her attackers realised that sexist smears, which had the goal of portraying the idea that a blonde, good looking woman could not have what it takes to be a president, suddenly stopped with such innuendos and introduced the ‘Masonic boogeyman’ into the smear campaign, painting her maliciously as a personally devoted member of Masonic associations that have nothing good to bring to Croatia, or the world for that matter.

The sexist and Masonic smears seemed not to work, palpably withered into ridiculous portrayals, Kolinda’s leadership qualities prevailed as the qualities she most ardently and ably represents.

And so the smear campaign against Grabar-Kitarovic moved up a notch or two: she is to be portrayed by the opposition as a candidate who has no opinion of her own on any issues currently perceived as important for the Croatian public!

She was interviewed on the widely watched “Sunday at 2” TV program on Sunday 21 September 2014 and wouldn’t you know it, the majority of mainstream media outlets in Croatia published commentaries that are either lies or half-truths regarding her answers to some of these ‘important’ questions, evidently intentionally omitting to point out that Grabar-Kitarovic has strong personal views on issues but that she puts her duty as politician in a democracy above her personal views. This of course would be a positive characteristic in any strong democracy but it seems not to be the case in Croatia where democracy is defined by the socially isolated and personal career driven political elites who are, as opposed to Grabar-Kitarovic, not inclusive politicians – to whom the variety of opinions in society and how to achieve a sustainable consensus do not matter and public debates or submissions have no merit.

At the beginning of her interview in “Sunday at 2” Grabar-Kitarovic stated: “…I have travelled the whole world and nobody can tell me that, with all the potentials it has, Croatia has to be in the state it is. We need strong leadership, we need people who have the knowledge, who have courage and I believe that I am that.”

When it comes to her answers to the ‘important’ questions put to her (from about the 40 minute mark of the televised interview) most the mainstream media acted atrociously, failing to relay the actual punch lines of her answers and thus portraying a person who does not have a personal opinion but wants to consult with the public/people on everything – as if that is a bad characteristic. When in fact, that is what true democracy is made of!

Serbian Cyrillic in Vukovar

To the question: “(Serbian) Cyrillic signs on public buildings in Vukovar, yes or no, what do you think (?), she replied: “I am not against those signs … but I am against raising them in places where they cause unrest.”

Communist crimes

To the questions regarding public divisions stemming from WWII and post WWII communist and Ustashe crimes that are constantly being regurgitated in Croatia she replied: “…that is the past, a new generation is coming in Croatia, many people have suffered during communism, I had neighbours who went to jail for singing a Croatian song, my uncle ended up on Goli Otok because he was dating a young girl in whom a certain man was interested … we need to move away from this chapter, I was born much after WWII … we need to unite, reconcile … It’s a fact that there has been no satisfaction reached in Croatia for those who had in any way suffered during communist regime … a victim is a victim … we must ensure that, at least, those who had offended during the former regime, who are suspected of having committed criminal acts and in other ways breached the penal code, are not occupying high government positions…”.

Zagreb City Square named after Josip Broz Tito

To the question as to whether Croatia’s capital needs a square named after Marshall Tito her reply was: “…that is a good question but I would leave the matter to the local community, as the president I would not on my own change the names of city squares and streets, I would leave that to public debate, but given that we are talking about that, time has come for Zagreb to have a city square or a main street named after the first president of Croatia, dr Franjo Tudjman, which we still do not have.” After the interviewer said that Zagreb does have a square named after Franjo Tudjman she said: “Yes but something representative and big in the city’s centre!”. Asked about her opinion on Marshal Tito and naming city squares she affirmed: “Personally I would not name city squares after him but I respect that there are people who value him.”

I do not divide people into left and right, I am entering these elections with clarity, with modern conservatism, which is inclusive, tolerant and respectful of other people’s opinions. I’m counting on the voters in Croatia and I count on our programs being evaluated and that which can move Croatia forward, that which can enhance life in Croatia, that which can take us out of poverty.”

The commentary or articles that appeared in most Croatian mainstream media in relation to this interview given by Grabar-Kitarovic make it clear that many journalists in Croatia were more involved in moderating, rather than leading in factual reporting of the event; indeed their reporting can be considered as attempting to shape public opinion against Grabar-Kitarovic rather than reporting ‘verbatim’ of who said what. To understand the specific role journalism plays is to create an information environment that builds upon democracy. In democracies, people need to be properly informed and it breaks my heart to see how the many of mainstream journalists in Croatia reporting on this TV interview failed so miserably at informing the public fully about such an important matter as the opinions of a presidential candidate are; failed miserably to state that Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic excels in democratic considerations and evidently counts on the Croatian public to help with the wealth of its knowledge and opinion shape Croatia under her leadership. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


This post has been translated into the Croatian language (click to link to the article)

Ovaj članak na hrvatskom jeziku (OVDJE)


Croatia: Remains Of Mass Murdered Buried As Vukovar’s Croats Stand Aghast From Government’s Aloofness

Sotin, Vukovar - October 2013 burial of remains of 11 Croats  murdered by Serb aggressor December 1991 Photo: Davor Javorovic/Pixsell

Sotin, Vukovar – October 2013 burial of remains of 11 Croats
murdered by Serb aggressor December 1991
Photo: Davor Javorovic/Pixsell

A joint funeral was held Monday 14 October in Sotin for 11 Croatian victims (4 Croatian soldiers and 7 civilians) of Serb aggression exhumed from a mass grave in April this year and only recently forensically identified in Zagreb.  The youngest victim was 25 and the oldest 72 years old at the time of their brutal murder in December 1991.  Yugoslav-Serb forces brutally occupied Sotin on 14 October 1991 and mass murders of Croats occurred soon after.

Present at the funeral were family members of the victims supported by numerous Homeland war veterans and other Croats from Sotin, Vukovar and from across Croatia. Present were also Vinko Kovacic, representing the president of Croatia, Zeljko Sabo, mayor of Vukovar who also represented the Croatian Parliament, Bozo Galic, representative councillor for Vukovar-Srijem region and Croatian government representative Predrad Matic, minister for the veterans.

Archbishop Djuro Hranic reminded that in Sotin, on the outskirts of Vukovar, 64 villagers were killed or murdered during the Homeland war against Serb aggression and there are still 18 of them on the missing list.

Archbishop Hranic emphasised that people of Sotin had been searching for their loved ones for years, in a peaceful and non-aggressive manner and said that “simply nothing less than that can be expected”, nor can they give up looking for those who are still missing.

The unpleasant twist to this funeral was that minister Matic was whistled at, albeit with some constraint one usually finds in such circumstances blended at funerals with respect for the dead. Minister Matic, whose stubborn and cold approach regarding the heavily weighing issue of bilingual signage, is particularly unpopular among veterans’ associations who are fighting to achieve the status of special piety for Vukovar and, hence, exclude the city from having bilingual signage (Croatian Latin and Serbian Cyrillic) on public buildings.  Many Veteran organisations simply do not accept him as their representative.

As reported by, Matic commenced his funeral speech with “Dear guests and invitees!” What happened to say: “I have come here to pay respects…” – the funeral was certainly not an event where guests come as per invitation. Bad taste, awful mind-set.

It is to be noted that all individual Serb nationals charged in Croatia with the mass murders in Sotin live in Serbia and Croatia cannot prosecute; Serbia it is said is still investigating these murders! So much for Serbia’s efforts in expediting reconciliation!

Croatian veterans pursue their rejection of bilingual signage in Vukovar as written in my previous post on the matter,however all their actions and protests have been put on temporary hold in honour of the funeral for the victims of Sotin.  Croatian veterans’ website further says:

While many citizens of Vukovar prepared for attending the Sunday Holy Mass they were greeted with a ‘greeting card from the Croatian government’ in the form of ‘strong police forces and the mounting of new bilingual signs in the city of Vukovar”.

The tearing down of signs by the people, by family members of those murdered during the war, by veterans and their supporters, the government had responded by replacing them with new ones in Vukovar. No dialogue still between the government and the veterans regarding the veterans’ pleas for Vukovar to be declared a place of special piety. To pour more oil on this nationally distressing issue there had been activities in support of Vukovar’s Croats in other towns across Croatia. That is, bilingual signs were taken down by unknown persons in Vojnic and Krnjak – places where these signs have existed for years without any problems. Again, the government swiftly replaced those signs.

So, instead of dialogue we have the situation where bilingual signs get torn down by the people and the government swiftly replacing them.  The government has expressed a slight inclination to hold talks BUT only with the veterans and place of its choice; calling the shots instead of negotiating with the people at the front of discontent and moves to declare Vukovar as special place of piety. Hm, someone should ensure reason prevails here and it looks as though it won’t be the President of Croatia for he said a couple of days ago that his calls for dialogue have failed and that the situation is most serious.

One would expect a much more decisive action from the President than: “I’ve tried but they won’t come!”

In the meantime, since the government has done nothing in regards to the veterans’ calls for the 2011 census figures to be reviewed – a new count of people living in Vukovar area be done – the veterans’ are not standing idly but are pressing ahead with checking that census data themselves to see whether in fact there are not as many Serbs living there as the census said (about 34 %).  The veterans have forwarded a letter to the President and the Prime Minister in which they claim that the 2011 census figures are wrong, that Vukovar’s population does not consist of one-third Serb ethnic minority (which is the point at which bilingual signage can be erected according to constitutional law/but not if it creates unrest) and in which they sent evidence of more than one thousand of Serb nationals who are according to 2011 census living in Vukovar but in fact are not there but living in Serbia or elsewhere or registered at non-existing addresses!

Corruption comes in many forms and one of those forms is evidently in the fact that the Croatian government at this stage does not want to check the facts regarding the number of people from ethnic minorities actually living there, the number of false registrations. Mind boggles as to why the government keeps its stubborn and chillingly aloof stance in this, pouring thus oil on the unrest, which many in the world would see as ethnic intolerance in Croatia!  Given that the veterans’ association has in a relatively short period pin-pointed to more than a thousand falsely registered Serbs in Vukovar (which is not a small number given the size of population) one has every right to be alarmed and concerned. Veterans have an absolute right to truth especially when that truth has and is hurting their lives, their families, their society. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)

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