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25,000 protest against Cyrillic signs in 'Croatian Stalingrad'

Published time: April 08, 2013 12:44
Croatian war veterans gather for a protest in Zagreb's main square on April 7, 2013. (AFP Photo)

Croatian war veterans gather for a protest in Zagreb's main square on April 7, 2013. (AFP Photo)

Tens of thousands Croatians have demonstrated against the introduction of the Cyrillic alphabet on street signs in the town of Vukovar, the stage of 1991 siege that started the bloody 1991-95 war.

Serbs make up about 35 per cent of the town’s population. According to current Croatian legislation, ethnic minorities have the right to use their respective languages for official purposes such as the names of public institutions or streets in areas where they make up a third of the population.

However, crowds pushed for Vukovar to be excluded from the law requiring the use of Cyrillic.

"There's no way that we accept Cyrillic," the organizers' spokesman Dragutin Glasnovic told AFP. "Vukovar should be treated differently due to a special respect for its victims, on whom Croatia was founded."

Croatian war veterans gather for a protest at Zagreb's main square on April 7, 2013. (AFP Photo)

Protesters from all across Croatia wore T-shirts with the inscription "For a Croatian Vukovar - No to Cyrillic", holding banners such as "Vukovar will never be Вуковар [the name of the city in Cyrillic].” Many veterans of Croatia’s 1991-95 war paraded in their military uniforms.

The 1991-95 Croatian war for independence from Yugoslavia claimed 20,000 lives. Croatia aimed to leave Yugoslavia as a sovereign country, while the Serbs opposed the secession and wanted Croatia to remain a part of Yugoslavia.

The reason for the protesters’ demand is the conflict at the beginning of 1990s, when Vukovar was besieged by the Yugoslav National Army and Serb forces. The city fell after three months and was almost completely destroyed. Vukovar has sometimes been called the ‘Croatian Stalingrad’.

Serbs are the country’s largest minority, constituting 4 per cent of Croatia’s population of 4.2 million people.

Respect for minorities' rights was a key condition for Croatia to join the European Union. Its entry into the bloc is set for July 1, following the ratification by all 27 EU member states.

Croatian war veterans sing songs during a protest against Cyrillic signs at Zagreb's main square April 7, 2013. (Reuters/Antonio Bronic)

Comments (60)

Anonymous user 11.04.2013 10:21

It is ironic that Croatians was really fought in Stalingrad in WW2, but on German side


M Y 11.04.2013 06:53

Anonymous user 09.04.2013 05:51

The Serbs viciously tried to exterminate the Croatian people serbs shouldn't even be allowed entry


Any proof of that? No. Just repetition of false accusations naci and faschist descendants spewed across the '90s time period and still think that is the truth? It is a lie gathered to cover up the ethnic cleansing of Serbs who were constitutional nation prior to '90s conflicts. Proof of that is mass extinction of non-Croats in their ethnic cleansing campaign sponsored by NATO. Proof lies in simple facts.


M Y 11.04.2013 06:45

Anonymous user 09.04.2013 14:42

How about Arabic signage wherever there is a Bosnjak minority?


Ho w would bosniaks understand those? They only speak Serbian, their native language since all of them are of Serbian heritage. They changed their religion under the Ottoman rule, that is why they pretend not a single one of them know who their ancestors from 4-5 generations ago were. They don't dig too much into their own history otherwise they would have to aknowledge their Serbian ancestory.

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