Twilight of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina

The incomplete autonomy of Vojvodina is slowly fading away. When Belgrade formally accepts the independence of Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, the autonomy of Vojvodina will be impossible. The nucleus of the state organization and all of social activities shifted to the northern parts of Serbia: the city of Belgrade is incomparably stronger, not only economically and politically, but also in the sense of cultural activities and potentials, than Vojvodina with all of its cultural peculiarities and diversities. In the context of demography, when we examine the population according to educational and professional structure, the predominance of the capital over the devastated yet semi-autonomous province is even stronger.

Predictions are uncertain, but it can be assumed that semi-autonomy of Vojvodina will survive another election cycle. It will be carried by the Progressive party (Naprednjaci), with their allies, Čanak’s private party, with Pásztor’s Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians, and perhaps with the Socialists. Small parties will pursue the policy of dumping, waiting for the Serbian Progressive Party to fall apart before or after the first regular election. In the meantime, many members of the Progressives will join to the drones from uncountable provincial administration, and as well as to the board of directors and various parastatal bodies.

It is unrealistic to expect that the system of protection of national minorities, which is still working great in Vojvodina after the abolition of its autonomy, will be extended to the whole national territory; acquired rights, which allow the Slovaks, Romanians, Bunjevci, to have their information programs, teaching in their own language, the official use of languages and alphabets, even when they take up only a few percents of the population, will be facing the national standard which prescribes threshold of fifteen percents share of national minorities in the population of the municipality in order for them to be able to exercise certain rights. The Vlachs will not get what they traditional Vojvodina’s minorities have, and Bulgarians, who’s only newspaper in their native language is already abolished, and who in the municipality where they make up three-fourth of the population (Bosilegrad) do not have complete education in their own language, will not get the implementation of minority rights.

The demography of Vojvodina still interfere with the abolition of its autonomy. Two-thirds of its population are ethnic Serbs. One-fifth belong to ethnic minorities. One-sixth declare themselves as regional, Yugoslav, or inarticulate, opposing to divisions along ethnic criteria.

There is a recipe for this as well. As well as the introduction of religious education, making sense of the education in Saint Sava manner, and ethnificitatiton of society, expressed in the constitutional definition of the state, replaced the shortfall in territorial gains in Croatia and Bosnia and covered the territorial loss of Kosovo and Metohija, so is the abolition of the autonomy of Vojvodina prepared by remaking their history. It started under two of Koštunica’s government, with the formation of joint Serbian-Hungarian commission for mastering the past. These weeks the process ends. The authority has no economic or social results; therefore symbolic, cultural, substitutes, apparently replace the real social adversity. Just like in the case of Krajina, Bosnia, Kosovo, poverty, layoffs, hopelessness.

The Serbian-Hungarian reconciliation is in motion. It bows, these days, to the communist victims, Hungarian civilians killed in 1944. In countless places in Vojvodina. They participate in it, as in Subotica, the representatives of Serbian Progressive Party. The Hungarian consul is participating as well, who in the manner of so-called arithmetic’s of crimes mentioned the thirty thousand Hungarian civilians which were killed at the end of World War II. The Belgrade authorities are fine with this. They in turn, rehabilitate the leader of Chetnik butchers and are thinking about the rehabilitation of the mass murderer of thousands of Jews and Romas, Milan Nedić. At the same time the competitors do not play in their own prohibitions: István Pásztor protesting against the opening offices of xenophobic Jobbik in Senta and Subotica. But his state secretaries are sitting in the government whose president is a warmonger from the time of the Yugoslav wars.

National minorities politicians cannot be blamed for cooperating with the chauvinistic authority of ethnic majority; if they would not cooperate with state authorities, their contsituents would suffer. Hungarian party cooperated with Stojadinović; political organization of the German minority in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, too. It did not save Hungarian or German civilians at the end of World War II from the partisan crimes.

In the process of the inevitable cancellation of semi-authonomy of Vojvodina in the medium term Belgrade relies on the overcoming of the past, which suits for Viktor Orbán. The refugee situation briefly disrupted relations with Budapest: not only as ministers of the Serbian Government demonstratively ignored the last reception in the Hungarian embassy, but even First Lady Mrs. Nikolić did not appear on it. But this is a short-lived marriage quarrel, possible only in stable relationships: Budapest, all with its fence at the top of which are razors, is a gate of Belgrade on the road to Europe. Little Entente temporarily fell asleep again. Isolated in Belgrade, Romania had to freeze the question of Vlachs, until further notice. And since in the time of the WWII there was no Chetniks in Vojvodina, the rehabilitation of Draža may, as regards to minorities, continue to take place unhindered.

There is no longer Kosovo in Serbia, but the General Mihailović is rehabilitated. And, with him, indirectly, Miklós Horthy. Politics, when it is not based on force or threat of force, it is based on reciprocity. On the loss are the third and fourth. Vojvodina Croats, which not so long ago were one hundred forty thousand, in this transaction go as bad as ethnic Vlachs. The alliance with Budapest allows the Serbian government to take resolute policy not only regarding to Bucharest, but also to Zagreb as well. The procurement of Croatian textbooks can be obstructed (as well as Albanian, as long as it Kosovo is not formally recognized). The leader of the Croatian ethnic parties in Serbia is becoming a cross-border Croatian Democratic Union candidate in the upcoming elections in Croatia. Sessions of the Croatian National Council shall be held in Zrenjanin and in Ruma (which was during the nineties almost completely cleansed of Croats), instead of Subotica, far from the eyes of the voters. Today the Croatian National Council will give its opinion on Mario Vrselja, former member of the Nazi National machinery, which is the trustee („Minister“) for youth in the state authority of the Croatian national minority in Vojvodina. Until now, they were not ready to give up. Just as tailors of the Hungarian history, in cooperation with people like Nikolić, Vučić and other unrepentant radicals, they avoid to mention the Nazi Salaši, or the deportation of Romas and Jews. Their role model is in Belgrade’s government, which courts’, under the control of the executive authority, rehabilitated the leader of butchers from Foča and Pljevlja.

The future Progressive government of Vojvodina will be probably her last (semi) autonomous executive body. When the Brussels private meetings with the Prime Minister of the citizens of Serbia Mrs. Jahjaga and Mr. Thaçi and Mr. Mustafa turns into interstate negotiations, the autonomy of Vojvodina will become impossible. Before that the Kulturkampf needs to be completed. Minorities help, and they need to help: in Martonoš they launched an initiative to remove the name of Marshal Tito from the main street. Without the rehabilitation of Chetnik butchers there is no abolition of the civil anti-fascist basis of the autonomy of Vojvodina. Its autonomy is based in the decision of the assembly representative of the people of Vojvodina from 1945, for Vojvodina to become part of Serbia, not Croatian. The killed Jews, Roma and Serbs, will be temporarily forgotten. And, when it comes to the killed Hungarian civilians, the truth will be repeated that they were killed by Tito’s partisans. It will not be allowed, under any circumstances, for the truth to go public that the most guilty for their deaths are Hitler, Horthy and Szálasi .

In the meantime, the leader of Vojvodina Hungarians Mr. Pásztor will recall that on the 23. of March 2013 at a gathering of Hungarian leaders in Vojvodina, Romania and Slovakia in Mártély he advocated for the Hungarian territorial autonomy in Vojvodina. The lumber for the ark of Vojvodina’s autonomy is over. In the next four years we only need to let the sinecures of the dying provincial autonomy’s aspirants the Progressive, Čanak`s and Hungarian to temporally settle down. When the parties comprising the Serbian government lose the first regular elections, and when the Serbian Progressive Party crumbles, there will be a new distribution of cards.

Vladimir Ilić

The original text was written in Serbian and published online on Peščanik. The link can be found below.