Sovereign Kosovo raises questions for Hungarian minority

2008 február 16 11:40 du.13 comments

Hungarian Abstract/Magyar kivonat: A nyugati média meglehetősen sokat foglalkozott Koszovóval, az albánok által dominált szerbiai tartománnyal, mely ma kijelenti függetlenségét. De a nyugati lapokban alig találhatunk említést arról a tényről, hogy a koszovói szuverenitásnak fontos következményei lehetnek a vajdasági magyarok számára is. Bár kiemelt demográfiai különbségek vannak Vajdaság és Koszovó között és az északi tartomány teljes függetlensége aligha kerülhet szóba, mégis fennáll az a veszély, hogy Koszovó leszakadása a szerbiai politikai diszkurzus radikálizálodásához vezet és, hogy felkerekednek a szélsőjobboldali, nacionalista erők Szerbiában.

Vojvodina - VajdaságAs was expected, much of the media attention around Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia has focused on whether or not this might lead to renewed ethnic conflict among Serbs and Kosovar Albanians, as well as if the European Union will be able to speak in unison in its recognition of the continent’s youngest state. Many pundits also tried to determine how Russia–which has traditionally allied itself with the government in Belgrade–would react to the imminent creation of an EU mission in this Balkan country.

Yet Kosovo’s independence also raises crucial questions about the fate of another multi-ethnic region in this former Yugoslav country, namely the northern province of Vojvodina (Vajdaság), which is home to over 290,000 ethnic Hungarians. Some fear that the declaration of independence will likely strengthen Serbia’s already powerful, nationalist extreme-right , represented by the Serbian Radical Party, which currently forms the largest group in parliament and came within two percentage points of defeating Boris Tadic, the country’s relatively liberal incumbent president, in run-off elections held on February 3, 2008.

It is not likely that Vojvodina’s ethnic minorities would call for independence with theVajdaság - Coat of Arms same fervour that has characterized Kosovar Albanian demands to sovereignty, even though some will likely agitate for the strengthening of this northern province’s semi-autonomous status. The demographic composition of these two provinces, however, is drastically different. In Kosovo, ethnic Albanians comprise more than 90 percent of the total population, which stands at around two million. Population estimates for the remaining Serb minority can be anywhere from just under six percent to as much as ten percent. Most Serb residents of Kosovo live in a small handful of enclaves in the north (including Zubin Potok, Leposavic and Zvercari), as well the Strpce region in the south.

Vojvodina’s ethnic and linguistic composition, in contrast, is far more complicated and diverse. Many of the region’s 290,000 Hungarians live near the border with Hungary and form the dominant ethnic group in cities like Szabadka (Subotica). Yet according to census data from 2002, even in this city of just over 99,000 residents, only around 35 percent are of Hungarian origins, while 26 percent identify themselves as Serbs, nearly 11 percent as Bunjevci (a south Slavic group), 10 percent as Croat, 7 percent as “Yugoslav,” and nearly 2 percent as Montenegrin.

Province-wide census results present an even more complicated demographic picture of Vojvodina. Although Serbs form an overall majority with 65 percent, Hungarians comprise over 14 percent of the population, with Slovaks and Croats tied at just under 3 percent, “Yugoslavs” at over 2 percent, Montenegrins at 1.75 percent and Romanians at 1.5 percent. Smaller ethnic groups include the Roma, Macedonians, Ukrainians, Rusyns and Germans.

Vojvodina remains one of Eastern Europe’s most multicultural regions, with a total of 25 minorities making their home in this semi-autonomous province of Serbia. The province, in fact, is also officially multilingual, with six languages–including Hungarian–enjoying special status. Vojvodina’s Hungarians, however, are dispersed in several regions, and this would make it exceedingly difficult for them to try to rally for regional autonomy. Although the Hungarian presence is strong in the northern areas of Subotica, Kanjiza (Kanizsa) and Senta, Hungarian-speakers also live in nearly a dozen other regions and municipalities.

Kosovo’s independence will likely have a profound impact on Serbian politics, since all major political parties on both the left and right view the Albanian-dominated province as the “cradle” of Serbian national identity. The radicalization of the political discourse could spell trouble for Vojvodina’s minorities. Additionally, there is a possibility that the discrimination that was prominent during Slobodan Milosevic’s rule–when the late Serbian president suspended Vojvodina’s autonomy and allegedly conscripted a disproportionately large number of Hungarians to fight in Kosovo–may once again haunt this troubled region.

Canadian Hungarian Journal

13 Comments

  • Over 65% of Vojvodina’s population are Serbs, and I think you can hardly compare it to Kosovo. More to the point, your allegations about some supposed surge in Serbian nationalism are absolutely baseless, and your allegations about your alleged mistreatment are outright lies! How dare you say anything to us, when we have given you, and other minorities, more rights than any other country in the world ever would? Especially given that ethnic Magyars were involved in the killings of thousands of Serbs as well as Jews in Vojvodina, and acted as more than willing Hitlers little helpers! You should be ashamed! Given the atrocities committed by Magyars, they should consider themselves lucky that they were even allowed to remain in our country, not to mention all the rights guaranteed to them. Regional autonomy???? Why should there be regional autonomy??? What about the Serbs living in Hungary? Their property was confiscated, schools closed, and their liberty deprived in every possible way! What about their rights?!? In stead of supporting the country that has made you equal citizens, you shamelessly scheme and analyse, and continue with in line with policies of your fascist past. If you dislike our country so much, than perhaps you could find an alternative place to live. As for the suspension of Vojvodina’s autonomy, what is it that you find so objectionable? Does a country’s government not have the right to make changes to the oranisation of the country it governs? Also, it seems to me that you do not quite understand why these autonomous provinces (or pokrajine) were created in the first place, so let me explain it to you: they were created under the instruction of the communist leadership of former Yugoslavia, in order to make the balance of power between the constituent republics more equal, because Serbia, with it’s much larger population was seen as too powerful in a federation of what were supposed to be equal states. They did not, however, have anything to do with the presence of ethnic minorities in the particular regions, which can be further supported by the fact that autonomy wasn’t granted to other ethnically diverse regions (many of which have a much higher percentage of ethnic minorities than the rather modest figures for Vojvodina). The biased intentions of this article and those writing it are quite obvious, what isn’t so obvious is the reasons behind such portrayal of Serbs. Perhaps it’s a thank you for our support for Hungarians during their Revolution, or maybe it’s to show gratitude for defending Hungary from Turkish invaders, and fighting side-by-side with them. Perhaps reasons are entirely different…..

  • You and Hungary can forget about Vojvodina it will remain Serbia till the end of this world as we know it! You forgot to mention that almost half of the Krajina Serb refugees call Vojvodina SERBIA home now and we will never allow them to be removed from Serbia’s safety by Hungarian nationalists!

  • Vojvodina doesnt “deserve” independence.

    you will notice the article states “The province, in fact, is also officially multilingual, with six languages–including Hungarian–enjoying special status”

    why is it a “special” status?

    Before Slobodan Milosovic came along and destroyed what was yugoslavia… the Hungarian language was not a “special” language..it’s use was normal, it was also federal law, supposedly guaranteed by the then yugoslav constituion (prior to its re-authoring by Milosovic and serbia)… In Vojvodina it was legally no different than the serbian language.

    why then is serbian today the “norm” yet hungarian…and all other non-serbian languages that were always used in the former yugoslavia are today considered “special”…
    that attitude and it’s acceptance represents the success of slobodan milosovic and the serbian extrem-right and average serb who “didnt” support Milosovic.

    Vojvodina and hungarians remained silent and complicit as Milosovic systematically dismantled its Full Federal Autonomy in what was Yugoslavia, it’s rights wich were the equal to that of serbia in what was Yugoslavia, its representation in the federal govt wich was equal to that of serbia in what was Yugoslavia.

    they watched themselves become reduced to a semi-autonomous province with ‘special’ status whom there former equals have generously ‘allowed’ them to have.
    They did nothing, said nothing, supported nothing… it seems they have long since allowed someone else decide there fate.

  • Sergej, your suggestion that there has not been a surge in Serbian nationalism is contradicted by the highly nationalistic tone of your own comment. Simply because the Serbian Radical Party is being torn apart by internal disputes does not mean that nationalism is not still a very powerful political force in Serbia. The nationalist vote is still present; it’s simply divided. The Serbian minority in Hungary currently forms 0.07% of the population. This is a small group, but of course Serbs should be encouraged to maintain their cultural heritage. There is probably no real danger that Vojvodina will separate from Serbia, so nationalist Serbs don’t need to get an ulcer over this. But if Hungarians were to face systematic discrimination–like what some argue occured under Milosevic–then yes, it would be Hungary’s duty, as well as that of the international community to intervene.

  • You want to intervene you can count me and my family to fight to the last man for Vojvodina Serbia! It is easy to call Serbs nationalists but when it’s any other country it’s patriotism! Vojvodina is Serbian and this will never fucking change and if you assholes don’t like it there get the fuck out! You Hungarians want Romanian land too are you shitheads ever happy? We live side by side in Vojvodina as happy neighbors but yet these articles are trying to make problems between our peoples when really they’re are none! I am too from Vojvodina and trust me all nationalities or non Serbs are happy they’re as I have a Romanian mother Serbian father! Vojvodina should be stripped of it’s autonomy once again…because it is Serbia and why so many special rights for the oh so important Hungarians in the first place? If you want to live in SERBIA you should speak SERBIAN if you want to work and go to school there! Just as in AMERICA or ENGLAND where you need to speak ENGLISH to survive it’s shouldn’t be a double standard and the bullying or Serbia and it’s borders should fucking stop at once! Enough is fucking enough! CCCC

  • Aron Hungary’s duty to intervene if your people experience discrimination lol!?!? You come…. to Serbia with your army you will leave defeated very quickly as every Serb civilian would fight and not just our army! We had enough trouble in our history and need to be respected as EQUALS and have the right to control our own affairs in SERBIA without outside NAZI NATO influence! If the people of Serbia vote democratically for the SRS party and they win a majority then it should sink in to others thick skulls that the people have spoken and have chosen they’re leader by casting a ballot, the world should mind they’re own fucking business. Serbia s not an ocean where all peoples boats can come to fish we are a SOVEREIGN NATION and Serbs make the rules so you don’t like it once again get the fuck out and don’t come back!

  • Vajdasag/Vojovodina was stolen from Hungary 88 years ago by serbia and now you’re telling me that the Hungarians should be grateful that they can stay on “Their Native Land”, give me a break! If the serbs from Croatia have a problem with Hungarians they should go back to where they came from and stop forcing themselves in other peoples houses/homes!!!

    The serbs ethnically cleansed 500,000 Germans from Vojvodina and then took their homes and land for free, the serbs should be ASHAMED of themselves for that!!!

    The serbs are the ones trying to steal other nations land and then ethncially cleansing other people from their own homes and the Serbs are responsible for all the wars in the former Yugolsavia!!

  • The Serbs threaten the Hungarians in Szabadka all the time. There are threats painted on walls and doors of Hungarians. I had the plesure of visiting Szabadka last summer and my friend and I cought two Serbs that beat up a Hungarian kid on his way home from work. They were kicking him and yelling anti Hungarian things. Of course we kicked both serbs ass and the police were trying get us in trouble until 3 witnesses came to our help.The so called Police let the two offenders go, but one was sporting a bloody nose and a black eye and the other was limping home.

  • Dragan dumbass
    I went to Zmaj Jovan Jovanivic school and they were teaching in Hungarian. Go change that you nationalistic ass.

  • Pero iz Michigan

    Purely irresponsible reporting. This is simply the little trump card that the US led EU uses to try to get Serbia to relent on Kosovo. If the EU feels that Serbia is being uncooperative in Kosovo or that they feel the independent Kosovo idea is in question, they use little organs like Aron to bring up the Vojvodina threat. The only problem is that EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE KNOWS this is a bunch of nonsense and that there is simply no validity to discrimination against Hungarians in Vojvodina. I will say that the few troublemakers who start opening their mouths about Independence are certainly open to get their asses kicked in. Serbia is in NO MOOD for members of IT’S own country who don’t respect being PART OF IT! So, live in Vojvodina as a peaceful, happy equal citizen in Europes most multicultural area OR open your mouth, creat trouble and disrespect the country of Serbia and you WILL get your ass kicked…..and you should. END OF STORY!

  • “The Serbs ethnically cleansed 500,000 Germans from Vojvodina and then took their homes and land for free, the Serbs should be ASHAMED of themselves for that!!!” Hey freedom after what your NAZI friends did to the Serbian race in WW2 you think we should be ashamed now that the Germans left and much less then your so called 500 000 numbers lol. I have been all over Vojvodina and there were never that many Germans! I will say it again if you animals don’t like it get the fuck your presence isn’t welcome anymore. Serbia is Serbia and if you Hungarians think your tough beating up Serbs in Serbia well you have another thing coming lol! orosz Istvan go to Novi Sad and beat up a Serb you won’t back in one piece. Vojvodina was always Serbian until your oppressive Austro-Hungarian Empire conquered it by force and we got it back! Now if your remaining Hungarian peasants want to change our border good luck we out number you by 1.1million in Vojvodina! So lets hold a vote and see if you get a majority to seperate from Serbia! One thing is for sure Hungarians don’t have babies like rats as the Albanians and will not over populate the Serbs.

  • To much emotion here. Hey lets be honest, during the Austo-Hungarian Empire Serbia was a thorn in their back. They send in some SMUCK Arch-Duck Ferdinand whom the royal family disliked because he wanted the Slavs to have more freedom within the Empire to Bosna. Void of a proper military escort after Belgrade warns them ahead of time that their may be a plot to assasinate him. So what does the Empire do? They send the idiot anyway, so guess what happened in Sarajevo? He gets shot. The Empire sends an ultimatum to Serbia by way of the Serbias ambassador to the Empire that they know that no nation on earth would subject themselves to, and BANG….. the Hungarians attack Serbia!! Well they get their Asses kicked by the Serbs and then the Germans join the fight. You know the rest of the story. My point is, Hungarians know their history of butchery and that Arch-Duck Ferdinand was the sacrificial lamb put to the slaughter for a well planned invasion to annex Bosna and weaken the already weak Serbia after the first Balkan wars of 1910 over the Turkish Empire. So if you live in Serbia have a little respect for these great people and their great country. You got to give them some credit, they stayed out of the Warsaw and NATO pact and helped many Hungarians escape from the communists by way of Yugoslavia.

  • Dragan your dumbass Vajdaság not ”Vojvodina” or some fairytale shithad foreign name is
    the proper pronunciation of this land and yes it was stolen from Hungary.
    IF you want war you will get war and by its end you and your people will helplessly witness your disintegration. And that’s because nobody wants to live with you. You started
    this nightmare, you Serbian outlaws all alone, that’s why your people are condemned as war criminals in Haag’s court of law.
    And for closure some facts about “The Serbian might”; you got kicked by the Slovenes, the Croats, the Albans and The Montegrenoes. We will kick your ass to, count about it!

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