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Who are Bunjevci?

The Bunjevac community in Vojvodina/Serbia, is represented by the Croat National Council and the National Council of the Bunjevac National Minority. Bunjevci are living mostly in the Bačka region of the Autonomous Province Vojvodina (Serbia), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia (e.g. Senj and surroundings, East-Slavonia, West-Srijem: Ilok, Vukovar, Županja, Vinkovci), and southern Hungary (Bács-Kiskun county, particularly in the Baja region). Bunjevci are living in an environment of change – a process that involves: culture, post-communist transformation, politics, judiciary, freedom of media, state building, language politics, education, economy, corruption, moral and ethical reassessment of society, democratization process, recalibration of Bunjevac history, and actual issues that require an objective evidence based approach. To this day, historical events are still influencing the demographic movements in Vojvodina, politics of national identity of different ethnic/minority groups, and citizenship. BEC

Disputes about the national status and historical origins of the Bunjevci - "Bunjevac Question". 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,, 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 

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

The origin of the name Bunjevac is not clear: river Buna in Hercegovina, or by a particular type of dwelling - Bunjama, or refers to the followers of Pope Boniface ("Bunjo") (visited 02-04-2019/13:59)

Bunjevci are slavicized Vlachs that converted to Catholicism: "The cultural historian Ante Sekulić (Tavankut, 16. XI. 1920 – Zagreb, 18. III. 2016 (editor)), who himself belonged to the Bunjevac community, asserted that they were Slavicized Vlachs that converted to Catholicism." Todosijević, Bojan (2002). Why Bunjevci did not Become A Nation: A Case Study. pp.3. 

According to the Bunjevac National Council, Bunjevci are presumably from Dardania and Dacia: "Smatra se da vode poreklo od Dardana odnosno Dačana, koji su se pred najezdom Bugara doselili na prostore Panonije i Ilirije, sve do Jadranskog mora odnosno Dalmacije u VI veku." (visited 01-02-2019/13:30) 

There is no scientific consensus about the theories of Bunjevci origins - Bunjevci are: Albanians, Bogomils, Bosnians, Bunjevci Vlachs, 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

The Balkan Peninsula and the Pannonian Basin endured for centuries frequently migration of people, due of trade routes, location on main waterways, conquering the fertile land for agriculture, tribal mass migration (e.g. Celts, Goths, Slavs, Avars), forced expulsion, local tribal wars to increase hegemony, famine, rise and fall of emperor- and kingdoms (e.g. Roman, Dalmatia, Ottoman, Habsburg),  Crusades, religious persecution, massacres of ethnic groups, shift of national borders, military alliances, and economic- and political blocks/interest. BEC



Early Slavic History, 1

Early Slavic History, 2 

History of the Balkans, Every Year

Goths cross the Danube

History of Europe, Every Year

Slavic migration/invasion

Treaty of Trianon, 4th June 1920

Breakup of Yugoslavia, 1992-2011 

Bunjevci as mercenaries. Bunjevci (also called Illyrians or Dalmatians) served as mercenaries in the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire against the Turks. As a sign of gratitude and soldiery, some foreign soldiers (mostly unpaid frontiersman), inclusive Bunjevci, received land pastures and Austrian-Hungarian citizenship. The descendants of these mercenaries have still the right to be citizens of Hungary. BEC 

"After the battle of Mohács (1526), the majority of the Hungarian population, out of fear from the Turks, moved out of Bačka and into northen Hungary, which the fertile and deserted plain enticed the new settlers from Slavonia, Bosnia, and Dalmatia. By 1565, among these settlers, one could already find the Bunjevac's last names in Subotica, however in historical documents, it is in 1620 that the Bunjevci are mentioned as Dalmatians. From that point on, there are more references to the Bunjevci in Bačka, who in many waves moved from northern Dalmatia, Lika, and the Croatian littoral, and some from Bosnia, but their arrival is documented at the end of the 18th century. The main settling of Bunjevci into western Bačka began in 1686 under the leadership of the Franciscans. So that the Vienna Royal house could have an army against the Turks, they gave the Bunjevci land, under the condition that they fight for the Emperor's army. Accepting that agreement, the Bunjevci began to settle in two main groups. The first settlers in 1686 were guided by the Franciscans, while the other group in 1687 were lead by the Bunjevac leaders Dujam Marković and Juraj Vidaković. They in the most part moved into northern and central Bačka, while some moved into the Baranja, Pécs, and the Csongarád zupanijas. Their fighters were under the command of their captains, Luka Sučić, Dujam Marković, and Juraj Vidaković immediately passed into the emperor's army which were a big factor in pressing the Turks out of Bačka. After the Peace of Karlovći in 1699, the Turks abandoned Bačka, when the refugee police was organized, the Bunjevci costituted a considerable part of it. Faced with the frequent attacks by the Turks, they almost had to face another more greater peril. They were on the side of the emperor during the rebellion of Ferenc Rákóczi in 1703, and they fought the more powerful Hungarian Kurucs, and suffered heavy losses so that a substantial part of the population had to move almost all the way to Srijem, while the Kurucs overran and horribly depopulated Bačka. After the liberation of Buda (1686) the Bunjevci had repaired what the Turks had damaged. No the added speed of Rákóczi's bandits, the so called Kukucs who expelled the Catholics. Fr. Jerko Guganović had, in 1702 taken his faithful to Petrovaradin, where in that strong fortress they had lived for seven years. Afterwards the people had returned to rebuild their destroyed homes." The Croatian Bunjevci - Croatian History

Franciscan order involvement of the southern Slavic Exodus from Bosnia in to the Panonian Plain: "Franciscan friars appeared in Bosnia at the end of the thirteenth century. They were given the task of challenging the Bogomil heretic church. The Pope declared the whole of Bosnian Kingdom to be a missionary territory and appointed the Franciscans as local inquisitors." (pp.410). "After the battle of Mohacs (1526) and the fall of Buda (1541), the middle third of the medieval kingdom of Hungary was occupied by the Turks. Large numbers of southern Slavs moved into the Turkish-occupied areas of Hungary. While many of these people were Catholics, overall the Catholic Church in Hungary was significantly weakened by the effects of the Reformation." (pp.409). Between Islam and Catholicism: Bosnian Franciscan Missionaries in Turkish Hungary, 1584-1716. Tóth István György (2003)

"Ivan Antunović: a bunyevác kulturális és nemzeti megújulás vezéralakja (1815-1888). Papi pályára lépett, kalocsai segédpüspökként a bunyevác kulturális és nemzeti megújhodás kezdeményezőjévé vált. Bunjevačke i šokačke novine címmel 1870-ben hetilapot indított, majd 1875-ben Bunjevačka i šokačka vila címen irodalmi mellékletet is létrehozott. Rendszeresen komoly összegekkel segítette a bunyevác fiatalok iskoláztatását. Rasprava o podunsvskih i potisanskih Bunjevcih i Šokcih címmel elsőként írta meg e két bácskai horvát népcsoport történetét." Sokcsevits, Dénes. Horvátok (Buyevácok). A Nemzeti és etnikai kisebbségek Magyarországon (1998)

Bunjevac revival process in the 19th and the 20th century: "A XVIII. század és a XIX. század eleje a bácskai bunyevácság fénykora. 1848-ban, a szerbekkel ellentétben, a bunyevácság lojális maradt a magyar forradalomhoz. A jobbágyfelszabadítás után tovább tagolódott a bunyevác társadalom. A többi hazai horvát népcsoporttól eltérően, a bunyevácok között a XIX-XX. században is jelentős volt a közép-, sőt a nagybirtokosok száma (ami persze nem azt jelenti, hogy ne lettek volna szegény sorsú bunyevác parasztok). A XIX. században a bunyevácok a városok egy részében háttérbe szorultak, részben az urbanizáció, részben kulturális autonómiájuk megszüntetése folyamán megindult elmagyarosodásuk miatt. (Szegeden és Budán ez a folyamat be is fejeződött.) A bajai (szabadkai, zombori) bunyevácság körében azonban a múlt század utolsó harmadában és a századelőn egy nemzeti megújulási folyamat zajlott le, mely kulturális szintről (lapok alapítása stb.) politikai síkra is átterelődött a Bunyevác-Sokác Párt megalakításával." Sokcsevits, Dénes. Horvátok (Buyevácok). A Nemzeti és etnikai kisebbségek Magyarországon (1998)

Creation of Yugoslavia in 1918 - Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes: "It was based on an ethnolinguistic-racial myth of blood kinship as the foundation of the South Slavs’ presumed cultural and political compatibilities. Jovan Cvijić (1865–1927)." matica srpska department of social sciences - Матица српскa – Synaxa – 1-2/2018 (From utopia to dystopia: the creation of Yugoslavia. Srda Trifkovic. pp.1.)

Kingdom of Serbia: annexation of Vojvodina (parts of Banat, Bačka/Bácska, and Baranja/Drávaköz) effected the history of Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, and Vojvodina/Serbia: "During the Great National Assembly in Novi Sad, on November 25th 1918, the unification of Banat, Bačka and Baranja with the Kingdom of Serbia was declared.The History of Subotica - Суботица - Szabadka - Subotica. (visited 23.05.2019/10:02)

Baja Triangle between 1918-1921 and Bunjevac assimilation: "Az I. világháborúban (más hazai horvátokhoz hasonlóan) a bunyevácok vérvesztesége is számottevő volt. A bajai háromszög 1918 és 1921 közötti szerb megszállása alatt a bunyevácság többsége passzív maradt, és csak kevesen tették magukévá az egységes délszláv államhoz való tartozás eszméjét. A két világháború között ennek ellenére erőteljes asszimilációs nyomás nehezedett rájuk." Sokcsevits, Dénes. Horvátok (Buyevácok). A Nemzeti és etnikai kisebbségek Magyarországon (1998)

Bunjevci and Tito: "A II. világháború végén több hazai bunyevác (és sokác) fiatal csatlakozott Tito partizánseregéhez, majd 1945 és 48 között a bunyevácok különösen aktív szerepet játszottak a rövid ideig tartó magyarországi délszláv megújulásban. Emiatt 1948 után súlyos csapást mértek rájuk a rákosista hatóságok, sok bunyevác tanítót, aktivistát, de egyszerű földművest is bebörtönöztek vagy internáltak. Mindennek, valamint az erőszakos kollektivizációnak és - 1960 után -a horvát tannyelvű iskolák bezárásának következtében az 1945-ben még a magyarországi horvátság legöntudatosabb, legerősebb csoportjának számító bunyevácság körében rohamosan tért hódított az asszimiláció, és ma a teljes eltűnés előtt állnak." Sokcsevits, Dénes. Horvátok (Buyevácok). A Nemzeti és etnikai kisebbségek Magyarországon (1998)

Ties of Bunjevci to other Croats: "From November 10, 1918, when the Croatian Bunjevci carried the Croatian flag through Subotica, the mutual ties between the Bunjevci and other Croats have grown stronger. The biggest manefestation of the unity between the Bunjevci and their Croat brothers was the majestic celebration in Subotica on August 14-16, 1936, as a rememberance of the 250 anniversary of the settling of one group of Bunjevci."

Bunjevci as a tribe: "In interwar Yugoslavia (1918-1939 (editor)), the official point of view refrained from making clear statements about the Serbian or Croatian status of Bunjevci and Šokci. They formed the smallest ‘tribe’ of the Yugoslav nation or represented the ‘middle point between Serbian and Croatian tribe’." Troch, Pieter (2015). Nationalism and Yugoslavia: Education, Yugoslavism and the Balkan before World War II.

Manipulation of the Bunjevac identity: "The short account of the basic characteristics of the state of Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes provides a perception of the political and social scene in which manipulations with the ethnicity of the Croat group Bunjevci occured. The tendency to neutralize Croats started very soon in the new state through the so called nationalisation of Vojvodina. Under the cover of the common Yugoslav name for three people living in one state, three basic forms of manipulatios with the ethnic name of Bunjevci came to light:

  1. Neutralization of Bunjevci by emphasizing their distinctiveness: they are neither Serbs nor Croats;
  2. Bunjevci can be both Serbs and Croats, which is the matter of individual choise, because both Serbs and Croats are in fact Yugoslavs;
  3. Denial of the Croat ethnicity of Bunjevci, through manipulations with their religious belonging, in claim that Bunjevci are Serbs of Catholic religion. Manipulations of the kind can be found in different forms in various published sources." Černelić, Milana (1997). Attempts to Deny Bunjevci of Bačka (Vojvodina) the Right to Belong to the Croat Nation. 

Ideological matrix of the idea of Bunjevac national self-determination: "The ideological matrix entitled "anti Western militarist-statist orientation" was most frequently present among Serbs, Yugoslavs and those members of the Croat ethnic body that declared themselves to be exclusively "Bunjevci"." Šram, Zlatko (2001). Dimensions of Aggressiveness as a Psychological Background of Political Orientations and Ethnocentrism: a Comparison of Different Sociodemographic Groups in Vojvodina

U 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."

"The Bunjevac question represents a socio-political problem in the Republic of Serbia, which comes from different interpretations of identity of the Bunjevac people from Bačka in Vojvodina. The majority of the Bunjevac ethnonym carriers are deeply divided by that issue into two dominant sides, which can, in the political sense, be regarded as two separate Bunjevac communities. One is composed of those Bunjevac people who interpret their identity as a sub-ethnic group belonging to the Croatian ethnic community and hence to the Croatian nation. Based on that, they represent a part of the Croatian national minority in Serbia. The other community is composed of those Bunjevac people who consider themselves being a separate ethnic community and as such they have been recognized as a separate national minority in Serbia since 2002." Gotal, Mihovil (2016). Bunjevačko pitanje kao simbolički konflikt politika identiteta - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Institutional Repository 

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", Croatia, 2018

Role Serbian government - "Bunjevac Question", 2013

Bunjevac National Council, Serbia, 2018  

Bunjevci belong to the Croatian nation, 2013

Role Serbian government - "Bunjevac Question", 2019

Croat National Council, Serbia, 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

Statement of the Hungarian government about Bunjevi: "20. In this context, the Advisory Committee notes that persons belonging to the Bunjevci community have repeatedly sought recognition as a separate ethnic group, and not as a part of the Croatian national minority with which they are amalgamated. An initiative launched in 2006 was rejected following an opinion given by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, principally on the ground that the Bunjevci are a part of the Croatian minority with which they share a linguistic affinity. The representatives of the Bunjevci, for their part, emphasise their shared perception of belonging to a group which is different from the Croat population by virtue of its culture and history, and the need to preserve that culture and history. The latest petition of the Bunjevci gathered the required 1,000 signatures and was submitted in 2011 to the National Assembly, only to be rejected again." pp.10. Strasbourg, 12 September 2016 (ACFC/OP/IV(2016)003). ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON THE FRAMEWORK CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION OF NATIONAL MINORITIES 

Statement of The Vatican about Bunjevci│2014: O Bunjevcima kao dijelu hrvatskoga naroda te nastojanjima srbijanske vlasti da Bunjevce dekroatizira i asimilira – pripremio i govori by Marito Mihovil Letica - Vatikanski radio

Statement of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts about Bunjevci│2014: "The Presidency of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, in a session held on 12 September 2014, made the following statement explaining that the Bunjevci Croats form an integral part of the Croatian national corpus. The Presidency of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, one of the fundamental institutions of the Croatian nation and of all the citizens of the Republic of Croatia, among the roles of which belongs the preservation of national identity, made the following statement in a session held on 12 September 2014: The Bunjevci, a Croatian ethnic group, are made up of three branches: the Dalmatian-Herzegovinian branch; the Primorje-Lika branch; and the Danube Region branch. Not encroaching on the right of any individual to express their national affiliation based on their origin, history, traditional culture, customs and language – the western new-Štokavian and Ikavian – the Bunjevci Croats form an integral part of the Croatian national corpus." Statement by the Presidency of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts regarding the Bunjevci Croats (2014).

Statements of the Croatian government about Bunjevci 2019: Ministarstvo Republike Hrvatske - Croatian Minority in Republic of Republic of Serbia

Statement of the Croatian Conference of Bishops about Bunjevci2014: "It is a painful fact that the Croatian minority in Vojvodina is politically divided into Croats and Bunjevci. However, it is unacceptable for the President of Serbia to proclaim that Bunjevci are “an autochthonous people who are neither Croats nor Serbs” and to give them textbooks in the Cyrillic alphabet. This is obviously an attempt to assimilate and denationalize the Bunjevci, in keeping with decades of Greater Serbian policies. Therefore, it is expected that the Croatian authorities will intervene to safeguard that the Croats in Serbia have all the human and minority rights that Serbs have in the Republic of Croatia. Human rights are universal and it is the duty and obligation of those in authority to take care that these rights are respected and implemented. This is especially the responsibility of Croatian authorities in regard to Croats living outside the homeland." Statement by the Justice and Peace Commission of the Croatian Conference of Bishops on the Referendum, Croatian Bunjevci, Freedom of the Media and the Exercise of Public Office in the Republic of Croatia. IKA. 22.09.2014. / 20:25

Statements of the Serbian government about Bunjevci│2011, 2013, 2018:

1. (Serbia, 2011): The Bunjevac people are an autochthonous Slavic people. Today they mostly inhabit the area of northern Serbia – Vojvodina and southern Hungary, more specifically, the area between Baja in Hungary, Sombor and Subotica in Serbia. The Bunjevac people are a Slavic people who, together with the Serbs, defended the borders from the Turkish onslaught onto the north of Europe. They played a key role after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Vojvodina’s joining the Kingdom of Serbia in 1918. The Bunjevac people have been the most exposed to assimilation in their history, and the largest assimilation happened under the communist rule in 1945 when they were joined to the Croatian corps by decree. The Bunjevac people managed to defend themselves from the constant annexation which continues to this day thanks to their language, culture and tradition.(National Assembly Speaker Prof. Dr Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic receives Bunjevac National Minority Council delegation, Branko Pokornić and Mirko Bajić) . National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia | National Assembly. Tuesday, 12 July, 2011 

2. (Serbia, 2013): Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić: "Bunjevci are neither Serbs nor Croats, but indigenous people." Tomislav Nikolić: Bunjevci su autohtoni narod, ni Srbi ni Hrvati. Tumbas, Nikola. 2013 - YouTube 

3. (Serbia, 2018): The Serbian authorities are fully committed to the strict adherence to the principle of free self-identification contained in Article 3 of the Framework Convention. In the monitoring cycles completed so far, the Advisory Committee welcomed the consistent position of the authorities not to interfere with the debate on the ethnicity of persons belonging to national minorities, which is reflected in the determination not to arbitrate in the debates on ethnicity and impose no identity on any community of persons belonging to national minorities, which is reflected in the determination not to arbitrate in the debates on ethnicity and impose no identity on any community (pp.86). In this sense, in the Republic of Serbia the freedom of persons belonging to national minorities to decide whether they want to be connected with a particular national minority and to be treated as persons belonging to a particular national minority is a fundamental element of the protection of national minorities based on democratic principles. Moreover, the legal framework and the practice of the authorities in the Republic of Serbia allow for the existence and expression, in various social contexts, of the multiple identity of a person based on the Constitution and international treaties guaranteed freedom of choice and declaring national affiliation.(pp.4.) In parallel, it encourages them to take steps – while maintaining strict neutrality as to outcomes – to promote constructive dialogue between persons identifying themselves as belonging to the Romanian and Vlach national minorities, and between persons identifying themselves as belonging to the Croat and Bunjevci national minorities.” Fourth Report submitted by Serbia pursuant to Article 25, paragraph 2 of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities - received on 18 September 2018. pp.110-112

"Political pressures on Bunjevci in the Danube region have highly influenced the construction of their multiple identities: under the constant pressure to prove their belonging to Croatian nation, they have adopted specific differential markers of their ethnic and cultural identity. Unlike the Bunjevci in the Danube region, Coastal Bunjevci live in the region inhabited by population of the same nationality and religion, but they differ from the surrounding population historically, socially, culturally and linguistically, and they self-identify primarily in the relation to the population of the town of Senj." Černelić, Milana (2005). Approaches to the Research of the Identity of the Ethnic Group of Bunjevci, Studia ethnologia Croatica, Vol.17. No. 1 December 2005. pp.25-49

Kin- state involvement in ethnic conflicts: "... , most of the major minority groups have a kin-state in the region. ‘Kin- state involvement in ethnic conflicts is based on an assertion of strong ethnonational ties that cross borders and entails “the right, and even obligation to defend” co-ethnics in another state’ (Caspersen, 2008a: 357)."

In the 1990s, during the Milošević Regime, it was life threatening in Serbia to declare to be a Bunjevac Croat: "... to declare themselves as Bunjevac in order to avoid being stigmatised as Croats, thus increasing the number of self-declared Bunjevci in the 1990s." Krasniqi, Gëzim; Stjepanović, Dejan. Political Science (2017)Uneven Citizenship: Minorities and Migrants in the Post-Yugoslav Space

Minority politics - divide et impera principle: "Cultural autonomy, reflected in a form of self-government in the areas of education, use of language and media control, establishment of specific associations, foundations, etc. transform into a relevant flow of financial means. In effect, leading a minority council stands for disposal of finances, governing various institutions and controlling minority's media. Therefore the leaders within one minority group are likely to turn against each other, rather then cooperate. The financial and economic benefits may constitute a strong argument for a leadership and influential tools in an impoverished society. Competition there is also very likely to happened, with all of it consequences." Muś, Jan (2013).

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 Croat, to ensure access to the EU (labour migration, business, and education within the EU). BEC 

    Serbia divided Bunjevci and Šokci from Croatian ethnicity: "In Vojvodina, attempts to divide Bunjevac and Šokac from Croatian ethnicity were launched in order to create two separate Bunjevac and Šokac ethnicities. This resulted in the revision of choices for ethnic affiliation in the 1991 Yugoslavian census. The categories of Bunjevac and Šokac were introduced as the new categorization of ethnic affiliation for the purpose of reducing the number of Croatian population inside the Socialist republic of Serbia. Although Bunjevci were officially recognized as a separate ethnic group beginning in 1991, there are many Bunjevci who question the new categorization and continue to identify themselves not as a separate ethnicity from Croatian but simply as Yugoslav, or, as a part of Croatian ethnicity in the frame of “Vojvodina Croats” (which includes Šokci)." Kameda, Masumi (2013). pp. 96. Language Ideologies of the Bunjevac Minority in Vojvodina: Historical Backgrounds and the Post-1991 Situation

    Serbian Bunjevac minority policy trend: "Encouraging the division of the Croatian minority into Bunjevci and Šokci, and favouring those Bunjevci who do not declare themselves to be Croats." 17 September 2014.  Written question - Discrimination against Serbia's Croatian minority - EU

    Serbian state support of the division of the Bunjevac community: "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." The Claimed Co-ethnics and Kin-State Citizenship in Southeastern Europe. University of Edinburgh, UK Published online: 08 Jan 2015. pp.152.

    1. Croatian Minority in the Republik of Serbia - Hrvatska manjina u Republici Srbiji: Hrvatska manjina u Republici Srbiji"Pursuant to the law on the Rights and liberty of national minorities (adopted by the Assembly of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, on February 26, 2002),  the Croat national minority was guaranteed, for the first time ever, the status of  minority. Although they carry several regional and sub-ethnic names (e.g. „Bunjevci“ and „Šokci“), Croats in Vojvodina constitute an integral part of the Croatian people, who in the capacity of an autochthone people reside in the parts of the Srijem of the Vojvodina province, in the Banat and the Bačka region, but also in a significant number in Belgrade. From the historical perspective, this population, in in its overwhelming number, has been for centuries an indigenous population."
    2. "The constituting session of the Bunjevac National Minority Council was held on 14 June 2010 in Subotica. By the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights of the Republic of Serbia document No. 290-212-00-10/2010-06 of 26 July 2010 Bunjevac National Minority Council was entered into the national council register."

    Position of Bunjevci after the breakup of Yugoslavia (1991): "The Bunjevci are an South Slavic ethnic minority living on the territory of four countries: Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, and Hungary. Originally they were recognized as a part of the Croatian nation, however because of a specific political situation in Serbia shortly after the breakup of Yugoslavia they were given an opportunity to declare themselves as a separate minority group in the 1991 census. After gaining a minority status, they have started to standardize their own language. In 2014, after a long years of work, the textbooks for teaching Bunjevian ethnolect were published. The aim of the article is to present the complex sociolinguistic situation of Bunjevci and analyze grammatical and orthographical content of textbooks as well as the metalanguage used to describe the language processes." Dudek, Anna (2016). Socjolingwistyka XXX, 2016. pp. 39-51.

    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, labour migration to escape poverty, crime rate, social instability, and its own conflicting domestic and foreign policy in the context of the planned EU accession. BEC 

    Compensatory citizenschip - dual citizenschip: "Following the worldwide acceptance of dual citizenship since the 1990s, millions of people in Latin America, Eastern Europe and elsewhere have secured a second citizenship from a Western or European Union country on the basis of their ancestry, ethnicity, place of birth or migration history. I refer to this phenomenon as “compensatory citizenship,” since the second citizenship does not necessarily lead to emigration; instead, it acts as insurance policy, enhancer of opportunities and mobility and even status symbol." Harpaz, Yossi. 2016. Compensatory citizenship: a comparative study of dual nationality in Serbia, Mexico, and Israel 

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

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


    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
    • Border issues
    • 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

    What can improve the position of the Croatian minority in Vojvodina? (2019)

    Committee on the Promotion of Minority Rights in Serbia and Croatia (Serbia, 2018) 

    Political-linguistic dispute

    Bunjevac dialect vs. Bunjevac language

    Due of the turbulent history of the Balkans, the area became a patchwork of dialectal and religious differences. Bosnians, Croats and Serbs were historically often part of different cultural circles with foreign overlords, that resulted in population migrations and the wide spread of Shtokavian dialect in the western Balkans. During that period, the dialect was referred to under a variety of names (e.g. "Slavic", "Serbian", "Croatian", "Bosnian", and "Illyrian").

    There 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/Croato-Serbian pluricentric language (Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin-Serbian: BCMS). A dialect is a regional speech pattern. Institutions of Serbia developed a standardized Bunjevac dialect variety in Serbia (2018). 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 Bunjevci 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. Both the Croatian, Hungarian and Serbian authorities do not recognize a distinct Bunjevac/Bunjevci language/nationality. BEC

    Political-linguistic dispute - Bunjevac dialect vs. Bunjevac language: "It appears that the concept of standardization, whatever it may mean to the various parties involved, occupies a central position, or – actually – the central position in the Bunyev language debate, for it looks as though it is only thanks to standardization that a speech variety may gain the label of language." Belić, Bojan (2014). изворни научни чланак УДК 81'27(497.113) Bunyev(s):a linguistic frontier to be? pp.613

    Pluricentric language: A pluricentric language or polycentric language is a language with several interacting codified standard versions, often corresponding to different countries (e.g. English, French, Portuguese, German, Korean, Serbo-Croatian, Spanish, Swedish, Armenian, and Chinese). Pluricentric language - Wikipedia

    BCMS/Serbo-Croatian/Croato-Serbian│Constitutional language of Bosnia (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Croatia, Montenegro, and Serbia. They all developed their own standardized dialect variety of the Serbo-Croatian/Croato-Serbian language, and registered it legally as constitutional language of their country. BEC

    Serbo-Croatian dialects: "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’- web page  not accessible any longer (editor 01-03-2019)

    Language politics and EU integration: "While language peviously 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

    Demografic politics in Vojvodina

    Pseudo-minority status of Bunjevci in Serbia

    The Republic of Serbia is using in Vojvodina a "segregated model of multiculturalism" (Žarković, Sara). Most people who declare that they belong to a specific ethnic/minority group, already come from families with mixed family backgrounds (e.g. mixed marriages between different nationalities/ethnicities, interreligious marriages). In the results of census taking is a disagreement between real ethnicity and declared ethnicity. BEC

    After the Yugoslav authorities included the category of "Bunjevci" into the census (1991, Milošević Regime), also the Serbian authorities continued to marke Bunjevci as a separate ethnic minority. The number of the total population of Bunjevci is unknown. In Serbia, Bunjevci declare themselves either as Bunjevci, Croats, or Bunjevac Croats. BEC

    "Census-taking in Serbia is particularly important as the results dictate budgetary fund allocations for each respective ministry; as such, the need for accuracy cannot be overstated." Mina Djurić Nikolić; Laura Trimajova. 2015. pp.142. A Tale of Two Serbias? Census-taking in 2002 and 2011

    Absence of objective evidence based criteria for voluntary self-identification of Bunjevci in relation to population census in Serbia: "The legal system of the Republic of Serbia guarantees freedom to declare one’s ethnic background ... .  The initial problem arises with regard to the self-identification of Bunjevci ... .  there are problems with “faking” a particular national minority background in order to benefit from affirmative action measures. In this context, the question can be raised whether there are limits to self-identification, i.e. whether belonging to a particular ethnic group can be based solely on one’s sentiments or is self-identification limited by objective criteria." Self-evaluation Report - Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia – Serbian OSCE Chairmanship, CSO Coalition for the monitoring of Serbia’s OSCE Chairmanship; 5.3.2 Primacy of Voluntary Self-Identification, September 2015, pp. 78, Belgrade, Serbia.

    "To understand the politics of population census in postconflict countries and salience of the categories imposed through census. By doing so, it seeks to shed light on the mechanisms of identity construction in the post-Yugoslav context.  The article  analyses the categories and the responses to post-Yugoslav censuses, focusing on national, religious, and linguistic identity markers." Bieber, Florian. Social Science Quarterly, 2015. The Construction of National Identity and its Challenges in Post‐Yugoslav Censuses

    Related subject is issued by Exercise of the Right to Official Use of Languages and Scripts of National Minorities - Ombudsman, pp.30: ”(Ref.37) In the Shadow Report on Implementation of the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, prepared in September 2007 by the Vojvodina Centre for Human Rights, the National Council of Bunjevac National Minority objected to the introduction of official use of Croatian language in Subotica, and the absence of Bunjevac language, even though, based on the census information, none of these two minorities had reached the threshold of 15% set by the Law as criterion for the introduction of official use of a language. At the census, 12% of Subotica population declared themselves as belonging to Croatian national minority and 11.6% as belonging to Bunjevac minority, but only the official use of Croatian was introduced, based on the legal concept safeguarding previously acquired rights, which was the result of the participation of Democratic Alliance of Croats in Vojvodina in the incumbent political coalition. In addition, Bunjevac population inhabits four local communities in Vojvodina in percentage that is higher than 25% and meet the conditions for introduction of the official use of their language, but no such introduction has yet occurred. Vojvodina Centre for Human Rights, Shadow Report on Implementation of the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, September 2007, pp. 70 and 71.”


    World Powers on the Chessboard of the Balkans - West vs. East

    Strategic convergence of interests between Hungary and Serbia: "Today’s friendship between Hungary and Serbia is the result of a ten-year process of strategic convergence of interests – and of concessions that Serbia has made to advance on the EU path." Milošević, Ana, PhD. April 6, 2018. Serbia and Hungary Play Cynical Games With Past | Balkan Insight  


    Constitution of the Republic of Serbia - II Human and Minority Rights and Freedoms -  

    • Prohibition of discrimination against national minorities in Serbia, Article 76:  Persons belonging to national minorities shall be guaranteed equality before the law and equal legal protection. Any discrimination on the grounds of affiliation to a national minority shall be prohibited. Specific regulations and provisional measures which the Republic of Serbia may introduce in economic, social, cultural and political life for the purpose of achieving full equality among members of a national minority and citizens who belong to the majority, shall not be considered discrimination if they are aimed at eliminating extremely unfavourable living conditions which particularly affect them

    Law on National Councils of National Minorities in Serbia - LAW on National Councils of National Minorities I. GENERAL PROVISIONS

    Finances - National Minorities in Serbia:

    The Statute of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina - 

    • Equality of Citizens and National Equality, Article 6:  The citizens of the AP Vojvodina shall be equal in exercising their rights, irrespective of their race, gender, nationality, social background, birth, religion, political or other belief, financial standing, culture, language, age, mental or physical disability, in conformity with the Constitution and law. Within the scope of its rights and responsibilities, the AP Vojvodina  shall contribute to the exercise of a full equality, guaranteed under the Constitution, of Hungarians, Slovaks, Croats, Montenegrins, Romanians, Roma, Bunjevac, Ruthenians, Macedonians and persons belonging to other numerically smaller national minorities - national communities living in its territory and the Serbian people.
    • Official Languages and Scripts, Article 24:  In addition to Serbian language and Cyrillic script, Hungarian, Slovak, Croatian, Romanian and Ruthenian languages and their scripts shall be in official use in authorities of the AP Vojvodina, in conformity with the law. Within the scope of their competences, authorities of the AP Vojvodina shall undertake the measures to ensure a consistent exercise of the official use of languages and scripts of national minoritiesnational communities stipulated by the law

    Vojvodina parliament - english - Skupština Autonomne Pokrajine Vojvodine

    Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government:


    Constitution of the Republic of Croatia (consolidated text) -

    Constitutional Act on the Right of National Minorities of the Republic of Croatia -

    Nacionalne manjine u Republici Hrvatskoj - Ured za ljudska prava i nacionalnih manjina;

    © Stichting Bunjevac European Center, 2015