ABOUT INDICATIONS OF HEIGHTENING INTER-ETHNIC TENSIONS IN BAÈKA WITH CONTINUATION OF DISCUSSION ABOU Nyomtatás E-mail
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2008. november 08.

ABOUT INDICATIONS OF HEIGHTENING INTER-ETHNIC TENSIONS IN BAČKA WITH CONTINUATION OF DISCUSSION ABOUT REMAKING THE PAST

 
   Abstract: clearer indications of heightened tensions in inter-ethnic relations in Bačka are worrying. The risk is additionally increased by persistent unequal position of the members of national minorities in employment opportunities in public services, especially in the police force, and their unequal position in efficient participation in public life. The problem becomes even more complex when the problem of vendetta against Hungarians was reencountered, which is necessary and needed, but which at this moment does not help calming down the situation. On the other hand, the state is obviously ready to solve this problem permanently, which is encouraging. This can be seen in: a) preparation of the Law on National Councils of National Minorities; b) renewal of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and appointment of four deputies of the Protector of Citizens; c) criminal charges for criminal offences on inciting and stirring up racial, religious and national hatred which are pressed more promptly now.

 

The Center for Development of Civil Society (CDCS) expresses serious concern about very frequent information about inter-ethnic incidents in Bačka. The CDCS watches carefully and respectfully the significant efforts which the state, provincial and municipal organs make to strengthen the protection of the rights of national minorities in legislative, institutional and action aspect.

   Preparation of the Law on National Councils, efficient reaction of the police in the cases of neo-Nazi provocations and increased number of criminal charges on inciting and stirring up racial, religious and national hatred are signs of a positive trend. The same implies for staff improvement and beginning of acting of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights, as well as for appointment of four deputies of the Protector of Citizens.

   On the other hand, not only that the problems like unsolved question of political representing of national minorities persists (their political parties must collect the same number of signatures required in support of an electoral list like the biggest parties in the country) as well as the question of their proportional underrepresenting in state organs, but there are also more and more indications of interethnic incidents. These incidents range from damaging the signs with written traditional names of towns and villages (the Center for Human Rights from Srbobran, http://www.humanrightscenter.net) to physical fights in Subotica with Hungarians because they use their language in the street.

   The president of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians, Mr. Ištvan Pastor said in this context that the ethnic conflicts which had taken place recently in Vojvodina, especially in Subotica, gave reason for worries. According to him, not only that the incidents happened, but Subotica saw a very agitated and tense atmosphere perceptible in late evening hours. The portal in Hungarian language Vajdasag MA shares the same observations and according to yesterday’s announcement of the Center for Human Rights from Srbobran “the position of the local Hungarians is getting worse and even the politicians from Vojvodina cannot dissuade us regardless of how many times they mention the significantly improved inter-ethnic relations. Therefore, the Center for Human Rights asked for formation of the local multiethnic police. This organization warned the Mayor of Srbobran as early as on November 30th, 2007 that in that municipality there was no employee in the local post office who could speak Hungarian and that out of 45 policemen in the municipality of Srbobran only two could speak Hungarian. The Center for Human Rights also warned that in 2007 there was an announcement for vacancies in the police force in Mali Iđoš where 5 Hungarians applied whose applications were all rejected although 60% of the population in the municipality is of Hungarian nationality.

   This question is additionally complicated by various interpretations of the history of the World War II where the Novi Sad and Šajkaš Raids are mentioned in the same context with vendetta against Hungarians carried out by the new Yugoslav authorities in 1944. At the meeting in Temerin where 250 ethnic Hungarians had been murdered at that time, the president of the municipality made his speech for the first time. At the meeting in Čurug the president of the Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, Mr. Šandor Egereši spoke, while at the meeting in Novi Sad the vice-president of the Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, Mr. Branimir Mitrović made speech. The Hungarian Coalition deputy in the Assembly of Serbia, Mr. Balint Pastor mentioned rehabilitation of several dozens of murdered people, thus stepping on the edge of risky arithmetic with the number of victims (in scientific papers the number between 4 thousand and 40 thousand murdered Hungarians are mentioned and only Cardinal Mindesenti mentioned 60 thousand due to propaganda reasons).

   In general, what is causing concern is that indications of increased tensions in interethnic relations in Bačka are getting clearer, especially with persistent unequal position of the members of national minorities in employment opportunities in public services and their unequal position in efficient participation in public life. The problem is getting even more complicated with reopening the question of vendetta which is needed and necessary, but which at this moment does not help calming down the situation. On the other hand, the state is obviously ready to react to inter-ethnic incidents in a way imposed by the local laws and international obligations it accepted. It would be very good to see the Law on National Councils adopted which would return legitimacy to these bodies having the key importance for exercise of the rights of national minorities. The steps made so far in creation conditions for proportional employment of members of national minorities in public services and particularly in police force cannot be considered sufficient. It is encouraging that there is a positive precedent: when in August 2007 Mr. Pastor Ištvan, president of the most influential party of Vojvodina Hungarians warned about reoccurrence of ethnic-based incidents, the state organs reacted quickly and efficiently. It is very important that the reactions of the authorities on reports about interethnic tensions in Bačka retain the previous year’s level of efficiency.

http://cdcs.org.rs
 
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