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Assessment for Croats in Yugoslavia

Publisher Minorities at Risk Project
Publication Date 31 December 2003
Cite as Minorities at Risk Project, Assessment for Croats in Yugoslavia, 31 December 2003, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469f3ae71e.html [accessed 28 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.
Yugoslavia Facts
Area:    88,361 sq. km.
Capital:    Belgrade
Total Population:    10,526,000 (source: U.S. Census Bureau, 1998, est.)

Risk Assessment | Analytic Summary | References

Risk Assessment

The future for Croats in Serbia and Montenegro is unclear. With the establishment of an ethnically mixed and democratic government came a reversal of many of the discriminatory polices put forth under the Milosevic reign. Vojvadina's autonomy status was restored; the Croatian ethnicity received national recognition; Croatian language schools were opened; Croatian language television and radio shows were created; and all of the previous were able to receive government funding. But with all of these changes there are still areas that need improvement: increased funding for the before mentioned projects, better regional and national representation for Croats, and a reduction in societal discrimination. In late 2003, radical Serbian nationalists won the majority in parliamentary elections, leading to increased concern over the status of ethnic minorities in the country.

Analytic Summary

While there are Croats in other areas of what remains of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) the majority are found in the Vojvodina region, which borders Croatia (GROUPCON = 2). The Croats of Vojvodina have been there since before the Ottomans in the 17th century (TRADITN = 1). The Croats are a minority in the region, and a very small minority in Yugoslavia proper, with most Croats leaving for Croatia after the break-up of the country in 1991 and subsequent ethnic violence (MIGRANT = 7). Croats are difficult to identify from Serbs due to their similar physical characteristics (RACE = 0) and their very similar language (LANG = 3). Religiously the Croats are Catholic while Serbs are Orthodox (BELIEF = 1). Due to the long history of violence and hatred, in Yugoslavia most people are aware of their neighbors' ethnicity, and as a result, each ethnic group is highly organized and cohesive (COHESX9 = 5).

With the installation of a new ethnically diverse democratically elected government, the status of ethnic Croats in the former Yugoslavia have greatly approved. The former restrictions on recruitment to the police/military (POLIC603 = 0), restrictions on access to civil service (POLIC703 = 0), and restrictions on attainment of high office (POLIC803 = 0) have been removed. But despite the drastic overhaul on the state level, there still exist numerous social restrictions caused by discrimination by the people that cannot be controlled by the government. These include: restrictions of the observance of Catholicism (CULPO103 = 1), restrictions on speaking and publishing in the Croatian dialect/language (CULPO203 = 1), restrictions on instruction in Catholicism (CULPO303 = 1). In 2002, the region of Vojvodina regained its autonomy status. With this came the above-mentioned changes. In addition to these benefits, the Croatian ethnicity became an official national minority. This allowed the state to officially recognize the Croatian language, to open up Croatian language schools, as well as implement other advancements for the betterment of the Croatian people.

There are numerous parties that represent the Croats: Democratic Alliance of Croats, Vojvadina Movement, Croatian Civil Initiative, and the Youth Initiative. In 2002 the Croat National Council was founded as an umbrella political party to represent all ethnic Croats in the former Yugoslavia. The political parties call for greater political rights in Vojvodina (POLGR203 = 2), greater participation in policies at the state level (POLGR303 = 2), and a greater promotion of the Croatian culture (CULGR203 = 2). While the establish of the Croatian ethnicity as a national minority have allowed Croatian language schools, radio stations, and such, the political parties feel that such endeavors are not being adequately funded. In 2003 the ethnic Croatian institutions in Vojvadina received 10 percent of requested funding. The political parties say that this is not enough money to run the 22 projects in the Vojvadina region. In addition to funding, the representatives of the Croats complain about a lack of representation in the local regions. They point out that in Subotica, the second largest city in Vojvadina, the Croats make up 55% of the population yet only 3-4% of the local authorities are ethnically Croat.

Due to the authoritarian government in Yugoslavia for most of the 20th century, there have been few opportunities to protest, peacefully or through militant action. The first evidence of such activity was in the 1990s and this only took the form of political organizing and verbal opposition (PROT90X = 2, PROT98X = 1). In the late 1990s, for the first time, Croats in the Vojvodina region have begun to use demonstrations and other official forms of protest to express their dissatisfaction. In 1999, the Croat organizations in Vojvodina lodged an official protest over the denial of an entrance visa for a Croatian Cardinal, and in 2000, anti-Serb demonstrations were held in the region (PROT99 = 2, PROT00 = 3). Since the establishment of the new ethnically diverse democratically elected government, the Croatian people have voiced verbal opposition to policies, especially in the cry for autonomy, but have not organized higher levels of protest (PROT01-03 = 1). The Croats in Yugoslavia have never been involved in militant activity in the country (REB01-03 = 0).

References

Markotich, Stan "Vojvodina: A Political Powder Keg" RFE/Rl Research Report, 2 (46), November 19 1993, pp. 13-18.

Oltay, Edith "Hungarians Under Political Pressure in Vojvodina" RFE/RL Research Report. 2 (48), December 3, 1993, pp. 43-48.

Ramac, Mihal "Serbs from All Lands in One Province: Refugees Change the Ethnic Map." War Report Number 37 (October 1995), pp. 18-19.

Lexis/Nexis: All News Files 1990 to 2003.

US State Department Country Reports 2001 – 2003.

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