Croatia: Language dispute with Serbia

Croatia: Language dispute with Serbia

Croatian President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday that Serbia did not meet the standard of care for the Croat ethnic minority which Croatia had towards the Serb ethnic minority and that Croatia “could start thinking about some reciprocal moves.”

Milanović’s statement was a comment on the negation of the Croatian language in a grammar book for eighth-graders in Serbia.

The grammar book says that “Croats, Bosniaks and some Montenegrins call the Serbian language Croatian, Bosnian, Bosniak and Montenegrin.”

Croatia cannot decide on the content of textbooks in Serbia but “we can start considering reciprocal moves,” said Milanović.

He stressed that Croatia has very high standards of support for its ethnic minorities.

“Evidently there is no such relationship towards Croats in neighbouring countries,” he added.

In his reaction to the same issue, Croatian PM Andrej Plenković said that it is outrageous and unacceptable.

“The embassy, the foreign ministry and all the relevant institutions have a clear duty to send protest notes to Serbia,” Plenković told the press.

“We consider it a shameful policy,” he added.

Plenković said that Croatia expected Serbia to rectify such anomalies in its grammar books.

The Croatian FM, Gordan Grlić Radman also condemned the negation of the Croatian language in Serbian grammar books.

“This is indeed disgraceful behaviour by Serbian authorities,” he said.

According to Grlić Radman, it is an incomprehensible behaviour of an EU candidate country, in violation of the 2004 international agreement on the rights and protection of national minorities, whose provisions Croatia has fully complied with.

“The fact that there has been fragmentation to Croatian and Bunjevac language proves that Serbian politics has interfered with the issue of the identity of Croats in Vojvodina,” Grlić Radman noted.

On Monday, the political leadership of Croats in Serbia condemned the denial of the Croatian language in grammar books for eighth-graders. According to the local Croat-language weekly “Hrvatska riječ”, a grammar book for eighth-graders by a group of authors says that the Serbian, Slovenian, Macedonian and Bulgarian languages are South Slavic languages while “Croats, Bosniaks and some Montenegrins call the Serbian language Croatian, Bosnian, Bosniak or Montenegrin.” The Serbian Institute for the Promotion of Education approved the textbook, the weekly said.