Belgrade has been consistently ducking its obligation to ensure that the Croatian minority in Serbia has access to all of the rights guaranteed it in an agreement was signed in 2005 between the Republic of Croatia and the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.
EU Funds and Regional Development Minister Nataša Tramišak presented a number of financing agreements to representatives of the Croatian minority in Serbia in Ilok today. Government has earmarked some three million Kuna for this cross-border cooperation program. The funds will be used finance some 20 initiatives, including the renovation of the Ban Jelačić's house in Vojvodina, local parishes and churches, as well as non-governmental organizations and cultural associations. The president of the Democratic Alliance of Croatians in Vojvodina, Tomislav Žigmanov: "This is a big step forward from the Croatian Government when it comes to support for the Croatian community in Serbia. We will resolve certain issues pertaining to the local Croatian community, and I think that with these funds we will be better positioned to address the challenges that face us, first and foremost a population census and elections for the Croatian National Council."
"All of this is in line with the policy of the European Union with regard to cross-border cooperation and maintaining good relations between the peoples of two countries, especially those that share a common border," Minister Tramišak added.
The difficult situation facing the Croatian national minority living in Serbia is best illustrated by the fact that Belgrade continues to ignore the obligations it assumed in an agreement signed in 2005 with Croatia, which stipulates that its signatories must guarantee the political and civil rights of the Serbian national minority in Croatia and of the Croatian national minority in Serbia.
Croatia has for decades now, long before the signing of the afore mentioned agreement, provided Serbs in Croatia three guaranteed representatives in Croatian Parliament, something many of Europe's older democracies have not yet achieved. Serbia however, continues to avoid implementing the agreement, and Croatians still have no guaranteed place in Serbia’s National Assembly. This is despite the fact that the 2011 census shows Croatians to be the fourth most numerous national minority in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, where the Croatian population numbers 57 900.
Croatia still has a litany of other unresolved issues with Serbia, the most painful of which is Serbia’s failure to provide information as to the remains of 1 665 people still listed as missing from the Serbian aggression of the 1990’s.
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