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PSRP Researcher Speaking: “Vukovar will never be BYKOBAP” – Serbian-Croatian post-conflict relations and minority language rights

May 7, 2016 @ 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

Laura Wise, PSRP member, will present the paper ‘“Vukovar will never be BYKOBAP”: Serbian-Croatian post-conflict relations and minority language rights’ at the Irish Association for Russian, Central and East European Studies Conference. The conference, on ‘Individuals and Institutions in Europe and Eurasia’ at Maynooth University, will take place from 6-8th of May 2016.

On January 12th 2015, one of Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović’s first acts as the new President of Croatia was to visit a protest camp outside the Ministry for War Veterans in Zagreb. Veterans of the Serbian-Croatian war of 1991-1995 had been protesting there for several months, in part against the 2013 introduction of bilingual signs in the town of Vukovar, using both Latin and Cyrillic scripts. This public support to anti-Cyrillic protesters brought the minority language issue in Vukovar back into the spotlight, as the bilingual signage was in-line with domestic and international minority rights legislation, part of a bilateral treaty between Serbia and Croatia, and designed to serve the Serb minority community in Croatia.

This paper uses the ongoing conflict over minority rights policy in Vukovar in order to examine the relationship between national minority issues, and inter-state relations between a national minority’s kin- and host-states. Understanding national minority concerns within Brubaker’s ‘triadic nexus’, and the risk posed to inter-state relations by unilateral kin-state action, it examines a case in which minority capture of foreign policy is minimal, and kin-state diplomatic intervention is restrained. By analysing public statements made by Croatia and Serbia’s foreign ministries from 2013 to 2016, it aims to capture not only how both states understand their responsibilities within this nexus, but also how their rhetorical signals correspond to their actions towards each other, and towards Serbs in Croatia. Although implementation failures of national minority policy in Croatia are raised by bilateral relations, they are also frequently unseated from the foreign policy agenda by issues which reflect the kin-state’s ‘national interest’, whilst Croatia’s responsibilities as a host-state and European Union member are consistently reaffirmed. This suggests that Serbia’s foreign policy approach to co-ethnics abroad is rooted in principles of territorial sovereignty, respect for treaties, and good neighbourly relations, rather than a threat to regional stability.

Conference Programme [PDF]


Photo credit: Beta


May 7, 2016
1:30 pm - 3:00 pm
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Irish Association for Russian, Central, and East European Studies


Maynooth University
Maynooth, Ireland + Google Map