IPA 2009

Excerpts from the contents of the bulletin “Multi-ethnicity and development” (Bulletin no. 4)

WITHOUT INTEGRATION OF RETURNEES AND RESPECT OF MINORITY RIGHTS MANY LOCAL  ENVIRONMENTS DO NOT HAVE THE POSSIBILITY FOR DEVELOPMENT
Interview with Veljko Džakula, the president of Management Committee of Serbian Democratic Forum

Without proportional representation in public services, administrative bodies of local self-government, judiciary and all those institutions which are being financed from the budget of the country, county, city, or borough, there is no more significant nor more high-quality return and reintegration of refugees, nor high-quality development of the local communities. The present state is such that Serbian returnees in public services and public offices in the areas of special state care participate in extremely small number, and they make socially excluded community which does not participate in public and social life in the places of return according to their participation in overall number of habitants. Therefore, not by their own will, they do not contribute nor to the development of their local environments which without their human potential and social experience of living in those areas do not have a chance for more serious social and economical development.

– Serbian Democratic Forum has recently presented to the public the analysis of different, nonunitary and discriminatory standards and practices in realization of right of accommodation of different categories of war-victims in 2012 with which the human rights and the basic constitutional right of equality of the citizens are being violated in the most crude way.
What made you to step into the public with this problem?

By that document we wanted to inform the public and to warn the relevant institutions of the crude violation of rights and basic freedoms of certain categories of war-victims in Republic of Croatia, primarily of Serbian returnee population. We also wanted to inform them that there is a different approach to solution of their right to home and accommodation, which all together makes room for discrimination and endangering of basic constitutional value such as equality and the rule of law. (......)

– What is controversial in the present model of accommodation?

Legally, the government of Republic of Croatia differently standardizes and solves the right to accommodation and the right to property to different categories of war-victims, and citizens and nationals of Croatia (......)

 (......) – In what way such practice of accommodation affects the development of the returnee local environments?

Exactly that fact should be important to the country, because this kind of obvious accommodation discrimination negatively affects the cohesion of the society in local environments and produces the legal practice which is completely opposite to the legal acquirement of the European Union and the European Council in Strasbourg, because by selective and nonunitary solution of accommodation the Constitution is being violated, and the property rights and the sustainable return are being endangered. In that way Croatia additionally compromises itself in front of international community and the sustainable return of local environments and communities is being stopped and obstructed, given that one category of citizens does not have the same rights like others and is being put in subordinate position. By such politics we send a message that our aim is not the sustainable and even development of local environments with all their human and material potentials which is democratically dangerous and detrimental to the development over the long term.

– What other problems the Serbian national minority is being confronted with in protection of its minority-identity and implementation of cultural autonomy and civil equality?

Cultural autonomy of minorities, transparent financing of minority organizations and institutions through the Council for national minorities, and political representation of minorities in the Parliament and the units of local self-government have taken hold in Croatia. However, it has not taken hold the minority self-government through the councils of national minorities which are in many environments a mere decoration, invalid bodies without legitimacy, incapable of consuming the rights from Constitutional Law and, as the gravest deviation, nonexistence of equal opportunities for Serbian returnee minority in employment in public services, government and judiciary. Without proportional representation in public services, administrative bodies of local self-government, judiciary and all those institutions which are being financed from the budget of the country, county, city, or borough, there is no more significant nor more high-quality return and reintegration of refugees, nor high-quality development of the local communities. The present state is such that Serbian returnees in public services and public offices in the areas of special state care participate in extremely small number, and they make socially excluded community which does not participate in public and social life in the places of return according to their participation in overall number of habitants. Therefore, not by their own will, they do not contribute nor to the development of their local environments which without their human potential and social experience of living in those areas do not have a chance for more serious social and economical development.Although the Constitutional Law of rights of national minorities was passed as early as December 2002 and was upgraded on two occasions, nevertheless can be said with regret that Serbian minority in Croatia is in a state of initial affirmation of minority rights, because, besides mentioned ones, it also very difficultly realizes the rights to bilingualism and minority education.

THE REALIZATION OF THE EUOROPEAN PRINCIPLE OF SUBSIDIARY IN PROTECTION  OF MINORITIES ON THE LEVELS OF LOCAL AND REGIONAL  SELF-GOVERNMENT 
Davor Gjenero, Independent political analyst  

However, the long-term successfulness of a model of minority protection will be guaranteed only when the members of majority and minority community accept the principles of consociational organization of local communities. That primarily means that all social groups have to take the responsibility for the management of local community, that they have to elect their own representatives autonomously, and that those representatives have to be able to achieve compromises and encourage integrational processes in a local community. Only by such integration of minorities, which in the same time also guarantees the sustainability of minority communities wherever they are traditional, it is possible to realize efficacious politics of minority protection, and the successfulness of such politics is firmly connected with the realization of the principle of subsidiary.

Minorities are important factor in building of regional identities
Minorities are sort of a “flavour” of the regions. Their multilingualism, that is regional vernaculars – are special regional source-languages or dialects which differ from national standard language. They were created by the adoption of influences and intertwining of different linguistic traditions of national communities that live in such multilingual, multicultural and multinational regions and are important element of building of regional identity. The European principle is the principle of convivenza which is not mere “cohabitation”, that is, communities which live side by side with each other, but primarily means permeation of cultures and traditions of more communities living in the same space.
Permeation and not just cohabitation
The concept of convivenza is possible to realize only on the regional level, and by no means on the national one. The logical reflex of central state is the strengthening of “national uniformity”, and regional self-government, by logic of its role, must generate regional identity as a competition to the national one. It is remotely conceivable that the central state could have too much sense for the encouragement of the development of identities that are “competitive to it”. However, regional identities in multinational regions are always based on the combination of cultural, social, and traditional values of majority people with those of minority communities that live in the region. The good example of the practise in which the building of regional autonomy by itself produced the successful system of simultaneous protection and integration of minority communities can be found in the functioning of Istria County. In Istria the authorities were not relying too much on the central state even in the financing of minority protection. In the Statute of the county they provided much more of standard minority protection than those proscribed by the Constitutional Law and they realize them consistently. In the past in Croatia were occurring the grotesque ideas of how the Statute of Istria County should be proclaimed as incompatible with the Constitution exactly because it determines the minority rights as higher than those in Constitutional Law, but that phase of restrictive interpretation of minority-right and rigid antiminority politics fortunately remained behind us.
The European Union is based on mutually compatible national law systems of the member states, but it always encourages the spreading of „good practices“ also. The good practice of „convivenza“ is one of the values built in Croatia, and formally is not the part of “national acquis “ , it is not legalized nor can be transfused in legal norms. However, it is an example of good practice. It shows that by the increase of autonomy of local and regional levels of authority and by the encouragement of system of competition of governments, in which the local and regional authorities will compete with central state what level will protect the rights of citizens in greater measure, is possible to create the conditions in which the local and regional self-government will realize that the overall protection of minority-rights and integration of a minority into the local community is a way of reinforcing of local identity and creating of advantages in successfulness in front of central state’s authority.
According to the principle of subsidiary, it is necessary to encourage the responsibility of local and regional authorities for all the questions which are being realized in their own space and thus the questions of minority protection. The state must remain the powerful supervisory mechanism in front of which the vulnerable groups can realize the protection of their own rights if local and regional authorities would not subsidiarily take their own responsibility. The basic rights which minorities must realize in the next period are the rights to education in minority-language and alphabet, the right of use of minority-language and alphabet in local community and in communication with public authorities, and those rights are firmly connected with the sustainability of minority communities. The sustainability of minority communities is impossible to ensure on the level of central state, but only there where the minorities are, as the Constitutional Law says, “traditionally resident”. It is necessary to carry out the reform of the system of election, primarily of local and regional representative bodies, in order to enable the members of national minorities in those bodies to get the representatives who are not only the party elects, but social actors rooted in local and minority community.
However, the long-term successfulness of a model of minority protection will be guaranteed only when the members of majority and minority community accept the principles of consociational organization of local communities. That primarily means that all social groups have to take the responsibility for the management of local community, that they have to elect their own representatives autonomously, and that those representatives have to be able to achieve compromises and encourage integrational processes in a local community. Only by such integration of minorities, which in the same time also guarantees the sustainability of minority communities wherever they are traditional, it is possible to realize efficacious politics of minority protection, and the successfulness of such politics is firmly connected with the realization of the principle of subsidiary.