MAY 4 2014 19:26h

Anti-Cyrillic activist given 8 months

Tomislav Josić

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Croatia
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The municipal court in Vukovar has sentenced Tomislav Josic, the leader of a group of activists who oppose the setting up Cyrillic signs in Vukovar, to eight months with two years of probation as he encouraged the removal of bilingual plates from state institutions in that eastern Croatian town, the group of activists reported on Sunday announcing an appeal against this ruling.
 
A legal advisor of the group, Vlado Iljkic, said today that they insisted that the installation of bilingual signs in Vukovar was against the law.
 
According to the 2011 census, local Serbs account for just over one third of the population in Vukovar, which enables them to exercise certain rights such as signs written in the alphabet this minority uses.
 
Opponents of bilingualism say that despite the constitutional provision on bilingualism, the Croatian executive authorities should also take into consideration that there is another constitutional provision envisaging that certain rights may be restricted if they are considered harmful in a given period.
 
These most vociferous opponents also warn that local Serbs, even those who participated in the aggression against and occupation of eastern Croatia in 1991, have in the meantime been amnestied and allowed to exercise many minority rights, which also enables that some of them may only formally be registered in Vukovar but their actual place of residence is in Serbia or Serb-populated areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina and this has led to "a contrived image of the ethnic structure in Vukovar" and to the "current absurd situation" in the town.