Serbian authorities and ethnic Croats disagree on level of protection of minority rights


Serbia’s chief negotiator for EU accession, Tanja Miscevic, said in the northern city of Novi Sad on Tuesday that Europe can be pleased with the way in which Serbia has ensured the protection of the rights of ethnic minorities, but a representative of the Croatian minority said that this was only partly true.

Speaking at a conference on the status of the ethnic minorities in Vojvodina province, Miscevic said that the rights of the ethnic minorities were very well protected and that her opinion was also shared by EU institutions.

The chairman of the Croatian National Council, Slaven Bacic, said that what Miscevic said was only partly true and that the legislative framework was relatively satisfactory.

“Representatives of the minorities are unanimous in their view that it is not enough just to implement the existing framework but that it needs to be changed to ensure the exercise by the minorities of their guaranteed rights,” Bacic said.

He said that the ethnic minorities were not sufficiently involved in the preparation of the action plan for Chapter 23 in EU membership negotiations.

Bacic said earlier that such shortcomings suggested that “the authorities are trying only formally to meet the condition on the adoption of the action plan, but its concrete effects will be very limited.”

The conference was told that a Croatian Language Department would be opened at the University of Novi Sad and a Roma Language Centre would be established at the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade as part of EU accession criteria relating to the status of the ethnic minorities in the country.