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Bunjevac Question - bunjevačko pitanje

Pseudo-minority status of Bunjevci in Serbia

Serbia

Croatia

    The 'Bunjevac Question' (Bunjevačko pitanje) represents a linguistic and socio-political problem in Serbia: Bunjevci are living mostly in the Bačka region of the Autonomous Province Vojvodina (Serbia), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia (Senj and surroundings, East-Slavonia, West-Srijem: Ilok, Vukovar, Županja, Vinkovci), and southern Hungary (Bács-Kiskun county, particularly in the Baja region). Disputes about the national status and historical origins of the Bunjevci go back to the nationalism wave in the 19th century in Austria-Hungary. The debate revived by the Breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Some Bunjevci in Hungary and Serbia, who are gathered around the Bunjevac National Council (Vojvodina/Serbia), claiming they are an autochthonous ethnic group (Bunjevac nation/tribe/people, www.bunjevci.net/o-bunjevcima), while most of the Bunjevci in the Bačka region identify themselves as a Croatian sub-ethnic group – an integral part of the Croatian national corpus (Izjava Predsjednistva HAZU o hrvatskoj etnickoj skupini Bunjevci), represented by the Croat National Council (Vojvodina/Serbia). Both the Croatian, Hungarian and Serbian authorities do not recognize a distinct Bunjevac/Bunjevci language/nationality. BEC

    There is no scientific consensus about the theories of Bunjevci origins - Bunjevci are: Albanians, Bogomils, Bosnians, Catholic Croats, Catholic Rascians, Catholic Serbs, Catholic Vlachs, Celts, Croat tribe, Dacians, Dalmatians, Dardanians, fourth South Slav nation (besides Slovenes, Croats and Serbs), Illyrians, indigenous pre-Slavic population of the Roman province Transdanubia, Meerkroaten (Littoral Croats), Moesians, Morlachs, Normans, Serbs from Bosnia, Slavacized Vlachs, Uskoks, Valachi Bunyevacz, Valachi Catolici, Vlachs, Walachen. BEC

    'Dekret 1945'
    Yugoslavia: Order of the Supreme People's Liberation Board of Vojvodina from 14 May 1945, which states that Bunjevci and Šokci should be regarded as Croats, no matter of their self-declaration. (Wikipedia)

    Historical context, 'Dekret 1945', Tomislav Žigmanov 

    'Bunjevac Question' - 2018

    Role Serbian government - 'Bunjevac Question', 2013

    Bunjevac National Council, 2018 

    Bunjevci belong to the Croatian nation, 2013

    Role Serbian government - 'Bunjevac Question', 2019

    Croat National Council, 2018

    Bunjevac separatism (Bunjevac National Council) in Serbia: "While Bunjevac separatism is based on the pro-Serbian movement, their interest does not always correspond to the official minority politics of Serbia." Kameda, Masumi (2013). pp.115. Language Ideologies of the Bunjevac Minority in Vojvodina: Historical Backgrounds and the Post-1991 Situation

    Pseudo-minority status of Bunjevci in Serbia

    Serbia's minority state policy - Bunjevci: "Amongst the population that is identified as Bunjevac, there are some who declare their ethnic and national identity to be Bunjevac, while others declare their nationality to be Croat with Bunjevac as a ‘sub-ethnic identity’. These correspond to two officially recognised (by the Republic of Serbia and the AP of Vojvodina) national councils, both with their seats in Subotica, the Croat National Council and the Bunjevac National Council. Formal recognition and the financial benefits of establishing a national council should certainly not be neglected in this case. National councils not only receive funds from the state/autonomous province but have extensive powers over cultural and educational institutions. By providing structural, formal and financial support, the host state recognises these divisions and arguably sustains them." Stjepanović, Dejan (2013). The Claimed Co-ethnics and Kin-State Citizenship in Southeastern Europe. University of Edinburgh, UK. Published online: 08 Jan 2015. pp.152

    Employment patterns in minority organizations and the job market in relation to membership of political parties and citizenship. The membership of a ruling party in Serbia is seen by many citizens as a condition for getting a job or local/government subsidies. Political parties in Serbia, take an interest to have their representatives in the Minority Councils, to ensure paid jobs for its members. In the Serbian Bunjevac community are people who have only economic based motives to declare to be Bunjevac Croats, to ensure access to the EU (labour migration and education within the EU). BEC

    There is no scientific consensus about the theories of Bunjevci origins: "‘Bunjevci are people of Norman origin.’ ‘Bunjevci are indigenous pre-Slavic population of the Roman province Transdanubia, at the time called Dardans.’ ‘Bunjevci are Ilirs. They are catholici Valachi alias Bunievczi.’ ‘The core of Bunjevci people are old Roman inhabitants.’ ‘Bunjevci are Morlachs or Vallachs from Dalmatia and Herzegovina, who were Slavenized and accepted the Catholic faith.’ ‘Bunjevci originated from Bosnia and were members of the Bosnian Church, so called Bogumils, led to Vojvodina by Franciscan monks under the condition of accepting Catholicism.’ ‘Bunjevci are Serbs from Bosnia, converted by force to Catholicism, who then migrated to Vojvodina.’ ‘Bunjevci have always been Catholics, they are a Croat tribe, dispersed in Herzegovina, Dalmatia and Vojvodina.’ ‘Bunjevci are the fourth South Slav nation, besides Slovenes, Croats and Serbs.’" Todosijević, Bojan (2002). Why Bunjevci did not become a nation:  A Case Study. East Central Europe,Vol. 29, No.1-2, pp.59-72 

    Digitalnom izdanju Newsweek Serbia, 24.10.2016 navodi se: "Postoje mnoge teorije o poreklu Bunjevaca. Vuk Karadžić izneo je pretpostavku da se Bunjevci zovu po hercegovačkoj reci Buni, sa koje su doselili u Bačku. Za Bunjevce se sigurno zna, da su kao katolici došli u Bačku, u pratnji kotoličkih kaluđera, a sem toga ih u svim tadašnjim vojnim dokumentima nazivaju katoličkim Srbima. Doselili su se sa teritorije oko Svilaje i Dinare, najpre u Liku i Slavoniju, a zatim i na teritorije u kojima i danas žive. Bunjevci se u najstarijoj mađarskoj literaturi najčešće nazivaju upravo Bunjevcima, katoličkim Racima, Ilirima ili Dalmatima. Dr Aleksa Ivić navodi da se Bunjevci u najstarijoj literaturi najčešće nazivaju katoličkim Srbima, a tek kasnije Dalmatincima i Bunjevcima. Prošlost i poreklo Bunjevaca nepoznato je, tako reći i za njih same i za ostali svet, jer se nije nigde očuvao nikakav pouzdan podatak, koji bi u tom pogledu dao verodostojna razjašnjenja." newsweek.rs/kultura/78437-poluostrvo-raznovrsnosti-ovo-je-10-najneobicnijih-nacionalnih-manjina-balkana-foto.html?page=2

    Serbian, Croatian and Bunjevac language varieties form part of a mutually intelligible dialect continuum: "The linguistic and political situation is particularly complex as the majority of those living in the village identify with an ethnic group (Bunjevci) which Croatian nationalists argue to be Croatian, whilst other ethnic Bunjevac activists argue that they constitute an ‘autonomous ethnic group’. Serbian, Croatian and Bunjevac language varieties form part of a mutually intelligible dialect continuum. The issue is particularly relevant at present as the Serbian government has allotted funding for the standardization of the Bunjevac language variety, as well as for school textbooks written in that language variety, a move that has angered some of those who identify as Croatian." Hodges, Andrew (2015). Teaching in Croatian in Serbia: discursive hegemonies and ‘state effects’- webpage not accessible (editor 01-03-2019)

    Political-linguistic dispute 'Bunjevac dialect vs. Bunjevac language' in Croatia and Serbia: Their is a diversity of Bunjevac dialects in Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia. Bunjevac speech is categorized as a New-Štokavian Young Ikavian dialect of the Serbo-Croatian pluricentric language (Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian: BCMS). Institutions of Serbia developed a standardized Bunjevac dialect variety in Serbia. A few Bunjevac leaders and political activists, who are influential in the Bunjevac National Council, are strongly involved in developing a "national" identity of Bunjevci: stimulating folklore activities and searching for political and linguistic support to transform Bunjevac dialect in to a distinct language. The leadership of the Croat Bunjevac and Croatian minority in Serbia, has presented the 'standard of the Bunjevac dialect' as an attempt to abolish the dialect of Bunjevac Croats from the Croatian cultural heritage. BEC

    Language politics and EU integration: "While language previously had been a means to unite Balkan Slavs, it became an instrument of nationalism wielded by politically motivated actors to widen the division among the ethnicities. Language disputes did not destroy Yugoslavia, but they may hinder recovery and modernization.  As each Yugoslav successor state strives toward integration into the European Union, political questions concerning language may polarize domestic politics and inhibit regional cooperation, thereby hampering efforts to carry out needed economic and political reforms." Rice, Eric A. (2010). Language politics in Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia - Calhoun: The NPS

    POLITICAL MANEUVERS: STATEMENTS vs. PRACTICE

    Open issues between Serbia and Croatia after 'SUBOTICA DECLARATION' (2016)

    • Absence of objective evidence based criteria for voluntary self-identification of Bunjevci in relation to population census in Serbia
    • Croatian minority - Bunjevci and Šokci
    • Different theories about the Bunjevac origin
    • Implementation Minority Education Program
    • Minority representatives in parliament/state administration
    • Minority status of Bunjevci and Šokci in Serbia 
    • Political-linguistic dispute 'Bunjevac dialect vs. Bunjevac language '
    • Politics of population census
    • Role of the government in the Bunjevac identity dispute - 'Bunjevac Question'
    • Serbian minority in Croatia
    • Stigmatization of Croatian minority in Serbia

    'Subotica Declaration- Serbian prime minister Vučić and Croatian president Grabar-Kitarović, (Serbia, 2016)

    Croatian president Grabar-Kitarović and Serbian president Vučić in Zagreb (Croatia, 2018)

    Extra-territorial (transborder) nation-building practices in Vojvodina. Kin-state activities in Vojvodina by foreign countries as Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria and Croatia, are increasing people's sense to belong to the country of their ancestors. Serbia, will have to show political maturity to manage its ethnic diversity, problems with state loyalty of citizens, economic migration to escape poverty, and it own conflicting domestic and foreign policy in the context of the planned EU accession. BEC

    © Stichting Bunjevac European Center, 2015