Fracturing Serbia: Is Vojvodina the Next Powder Keg?

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Boris Malagurski
September 10, 2012
09:50

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Fracturing Serbia: Is Vojvodina the Next Powder Keg?
by grtv

When the Economist magazine described the northern Serbian province of Vojvodina in 2009 as being on a thin edge leading to its independence, citing the fact that under Milosevic, both Kosovo and Vojvodina had equal autonomy, not many people reacted. Now, the situation is starting to get critical.

My name’s Boris Malagurski, I’m a Serbian-Canadian documentary filmmaker, author of Kosovo: Can You Imagine? and The Weight of Chains, which was supported by the Global Research Institute, and this is an exclusive video for GRTV.

The 1974 Yugoslav constitution didn’t only give the Serbian region of Kosovo wide autonomy and the traits of a republic, it also gave that to the north of Serbia – a stretch of land called Vojvodina. Vojvodina has always been an attractive chunk of real estate, for centuries exploited by outside powers for its fertile farmland.

Even though Serbs first settled this land around the 6th century, a bunch of Hungarian conquests lead to the gradual takeover of all of todays Vojvodina by Hungarians. Despite that, more Serbs started settling from the 14th century onward. The Serbs finally declared the Serbian Voivodship, where the name Vojvodina came from, meaning ‘duchy’, in 1848. After the Austro-Hungarian Empire collapsed, Vojvodina legally united with Serbia, a status that remains to this day.

John Bosnitch: “When Vojvodina came to Serbia, it came to Serbia as a rejoining of the Serbian nation with the parts that had been cut off by imperial conquerors, by Turks, by Germans, by Hungarians.”

Srdja Trifkovic: “The concept of Vojvodina is inexorably linked to the striving of the Serbs in the Austro-Hungarian Empire for autonomy and for self-rule. And it is therefore ironic that in our own time, the concept of Vojvodina is being resurrected in contradistinction to Serbian statehood, as if it is some kind of creation that was not a reflection of Serbian striving for self-rule and autonomy, but on the contrary a vehicle for the provision of autonomy to the others.”

Tito gave the Vojvodina Serbs wide provincial autonomy.

John Bosnitch: “The question that comes to mind immediately is: Why would Vojvodina, the Northern part of Serbia, require autonomy when it was more than 60% or 65% Serbian, why did it have to have near independence, when the massive Krajina region of Croatia had no autonomy whatsoever. Linguistic, cultural, educational of any kind.”

Is there a similar example of the kind of province Vojvodina is anywhere else in Europe? Nope, this specific kind of autonomy exists only in Serbia. But why?

Some say that Vojvodina needs autonomy because of the delicate situation with its minorities, the largest of which is the Hungarian minority. But hang on, there are much more Hungarians in Slovakia and Romania than in Serbia.

Others say that Vojvodina needs autonomy because of alleged historical autonomy under the Austro-Hungarians. Well, the Dalmatian region of Croatia had wide autonomy under the Republic of Venice and the Austrians. Slavonia too. Today, neither Croatian regions have autonomy.

It seems that the reasoning behind Vojvodina’s autonomy is quite flawed. Luckily, everyone can count on one thing – how much the Serbs outside of Belgrade love to criticize Belgrade. This is why a lot of Vojvodina Serbs actually support Vojvodina autonomy, as they think Belgrade is robbing them. That may be true, but the leadership in Vojvodina’s capital Novi Sad is no different.

All of Vojvodina’s oil and gas is in Eastern Vojvodina, called Banat. But the centre of the oil industry is not in Banat, but rather in Novi Sad. This is the biggest robbery, because the taxes from the oil industry headquarters don’t stay in the Banat towns of Kikinda or Elamir, young people in Banat don’t get to stay and work in their towns and their cities don’t attract banks, traders and insurance firms – Novi Sad is the centre of that. So, the logical solution? More power to Novi Sad.

This is exactly what the new so-called Statute of Vojvodina did.

The allegedly Independent Association of Vojvodina Journalists, which lobbies for the secession of Vojvodina, is supported and funded by the National Endowment for Democracy. For those who aren’t familiar with the work of the NED, let’s just say that Allen Weinstein, the NED’s first president, said that “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA”, which basically makes it a CIA spinoff.

The Association of Vojvodina Journalists organized numerous roundtable discussions that showed closeness to the Soros-funded Open Society Institute, Center for the Cultural Decontamination, Helsinki Board for Human Rights—all sponsored by foreign states.

The series of public forums produced by this journalist group under the common heading Interview InVivo, was backed by the League of Socialdemocrats of Vojvodina, led by Nenad Canak, who personally took part in the discussions.

Srdja Trifkovic: “A product of the Titoist mindset. A man who is biologically speaking a Serb, but ideologically who belongs to post national, post modernia of the Brave New World of contemporary Europe. Nenad Canak is a man who also has a great deal of lust for power and who sees the fulfilment of that lust in the separatist Vojvodinian project.”

His party already printed Vojvodinian passports several years before.

And he also seemed to be OK with the idea of a part of Vojvodina, called Srem, going to Croatia.

So, with the formation of the so-called independent group of journalists, Canak now has a propaganda engine behind him. With the Association comprising of journalists perfectly spread through the media…

Novi Sad daily Dnevnik, BETA news agency, Belgrade daily Vreme, B92
…it’s able to manipulate the information and secure tight connections between the media and foreign funded NGOs. Vojvodina is being subjected to the same type of Western-supported propaganda Montenegro went through before it separated.

Vojvodinians, just as Montenegrins, are more often looked upon as different than the rest of Serbs. Like in Montenegro, Serbian cyrillic script disappeared overnight on official provisional web-sites and there are more and more claims that Vojvodinians are a nation, with their own language.

With the government change in Serbia in 2012, with political parties that Canak’s League of Social Democrats despises coming to power, Canak saw his chance to exploit the fact that Vojvodina largely voted for the losing Democratic party of Boris Tadic, instead of those who came to power, Tomislav Nikolic’s Progressive party and Ivica Dacic’s Socialist party.

So, on August 15, 2012, Nenad Canak annouced the formation of an ‘autonomist front’, an anti-constitutional league consisting of his party and other parties who want to take more power from the new Belgrade government, which will aim to internationalize the so-called ‘Vojvodina question’. Canak claims that he’ll talk to several factors within the international community and see what he should do next.

This could be opening another Pandora’s box in the Balkans, where people are sick and tired of separatist conflicts and just want to live in peace. It seems that Canak will stop at nothing to secede Vojvodina from the rest of Serbia, hoping that he’ll gain absolute power in that way.

Former German Ambassador to Belgrade Andreas Zobel threatened Belgrade back in 2007 that if it insisted on Kosovo being an integral part of Serbia, flares could ignite in Vojvodina and the Serbian region of Rashka, or Sandzak. It might just be a matter of time before the West tells Serbia that, for the sake of EU membership, it should not only give up Kosovo, but Vojvodina as well. Unless, of course, if Serbia starts ignoring what the West wants, and starts doing what it wants.

For GRTV, Boris Malagurski.

Comments

 
2012 / 09 / 11
Janko says:

@ Stefan and Peter:

I suggest that you take a look at both films of this author, with an OPEN mind. The prejudices that you acquired in the past 20 or so years are blocking your judgment on this matter.

Best regards,
Janko

2012 / 09 / 12
Peter says:

Hi Janko

Please explain? How?

2012 / 09 / 12
Voivodinian says:

This guy is well known in Serbia. He is tightly connected with Serbian secret service and many right wing nationalist groups. Typical Serbian propaganda movie.

2012 / 09 / 12
FromSomborwithLove says:

As someone who lived in Vojvodina, most of his life, I can confirm that everything said in the movie is 100% correct. The above comment from Voivodinian is funny. On the contrary, it is a well known fact here that Nenad Canak is connected with CIA, and every time he receives funding, ads, billboards and other form of advertisments advocating the sepration from Serbia, just popup over night in amazing numbers... I have a lot of Croatian and Hungarian friends in Vojvodina, and it is interesting to note that they do not feel oppressed in any way, nor do they want Vojvodina to become independent. Just my 2 cents...

2012 / 09 / 12
OvdasnjiNS says:

Serbian propaganda. Vojvodina is a separate entity from Serbia, in every aspect: historically, culturally, politically. It was never a so called "organic part" of Serbia. A mullticultural area and territory that has been established by the former Austro-hungarian empire foremost as an Economic project, with the aim to connect the distant parts of it. For that reason, the empire has brought people from every part of Europe, including Serbian refugees from south Serbia, giving them both shelter and rights. It was there, in Austro/hungarian Vojvodina, where Serbs established their first public schools, hospitals etc. In all, this is an overwhelmingly biased documentary and comment. GR TV should follow in the steps of investigative, not speculative and one dimensional journalism. Totally unprofessional.

2012 / 09 / 13
Sremac says:

Dear Boris,

There are few thing you need to do before making any documentaries.
Get your facts and historical data right. What you just said in your 10 minute documentary is same mantra that is often used by far right Serbian organisations and political parties.
People like you are just fuelling already tense situation I Vojvodina with your cheap Belgrade orchestrated propaganda.
It’s shocking and insulting how untrue your story is.

2012 / 09 / 13
DraganNS says:

It is quite shocking to me (as a Serb living in Vojvodina) that the towns with most pronaunced separatist tensions are actually the town were majority of population is Serb (over 90%). In can only bring me to conclusion that some of the Serbs have either gone insane or that someone is doing this on purpose. Offcourse there are allways ppl that are gulllible or willing to do anything for money regardless of nationality, but the poor and uneducated (categories in abundance in Serbia) are esspecially susceptible to this.

Regardless of this, can you imagine an American trying to annex the California to Mexico or Separate Texas into independent State?

Can anyone in their right mind say that in the era of 21 century where everyone is trying to unite and become closer (trade, culture,...) it is economically viable or politically prudent to pursue separatist goals??!

2012 / 09 / 13
Sremac says:

"It is quite shocking to me (as a Serb living in Vojvodina) that the towns with most pronaunced separatist tensions are actually the town were majority of population is Serb (over 90%). In can only bring me to conclusion that some of the Serbs have either gone insane or that someone is doing this on purpose"

That’s answer to your question and proof that not all of us are same and think within the national template that was lobbed on top of our heads during Milosevic reign.
I am born and bred Serb from Vojvodina and can openly say that we have nothing in common with rest of Serbs on ex-YU territories regardless what Boris claims in his propaganda video.
More accurate comparison between Vojvodinian Serbs and Serbs from Serbia or Bosnia would be like comparing Englishman and American.

2012 / 09 / 13
FromSomborwithLove says:

This is simply not true, I was born in Croatia, lived in Bosnia and Belgrade a little bit, in Vojvodina most of my life. Offcourse Serbs are not the same in different regions, if u take 2 men in one building they will not be the same. However using your analogy a man from Texas and a man from New York have less in common than a man from Vojvodina and a man from central Serbia. Then Texas should separate from USA?!
Milosevic or any other dictator have nothing to do with issues of Vojvodina. There are NO real issues in Vojvodina, only certain foreign and domestic factors trying to achieve their goals. Guys like Nenad Canak, who even though get less then 10% on every election somehow miracleously are everywhere in political institutions and in media all the time. This is no accident..

2012 / 09 / 18
singidunum02 says:

As a Serb who was born in Central Serbia, lived in Bosnia and now in Belgrade, I had no idea that the separatist sentiment was so spread in Vojvodina, primarily amongst the Serbs who live there. I conclude that on the basis of the comments here.

However, I would suggest that Serbia deals with the issue of separatism in Vojvodina in the same manner Spain is dealing with the separatist desires in Catalonia. I think that's only fair. Let's see what happens in Catalonia and then we can follow the 'advanced' European practices.

2012 / 12 / 24
Miss Sunshine says:

I find it unbelivable and kind of shocking that the author lives in Canada, where he has had the opportunity to open his mind and view historical facts objectively, yet he remains subscribed to Milosevic's (and other Serbian extremists) views and ideas .....may you always stay in dark my friend becuase if you find light one day it may be too late and you may not be able to live with reality.

2013 / 04 / 28
Danilo says:

vojvodina separatism is a fantasy invented by Serbian nationalists.

It give them a scary story to tell Serbs and something (the created) to fight against and look like heroes.

2013 / 04 / 28
Danilo says:

something *THEY created, I mean

2013 / 05 / 22
Milos, Novi Sad says:

@Miss Sunshine

Exactly my thoughts.
There might be a simple answer... Money, power, influence. His work is probably not important in the west so he intentionally supports nationalist Serbian propaganda so he would be welcomed in Serbia. Since Serbia is relatively small and unimportant, he is a big deal here. It's better to be a big fish in a small lake than a small fish in the big lake, that's his logic.
He is not the only one. Look at Vuk Jeremic and Emir Kusturica for example. They spent a large amount of time in the west studying and working. They know exactly what was happening prior, during and after the war, and who was (and is) to blame. Still, they intentionally support the devastating ideology that brought ruin to a lot of people.

2013 / 09 / 24
visocanin says:

To Sremac, Miss Sunshine (uneducated and very NATO media brainwashed) --> I find it unbelievable and OUTRAGEOUS that people who supposedly advocate "Human Rights, Democracy and Rights of Nations for Self-Determination" have no critical mind toward the 100% NATO Hungary/Germany/US orchestrated propaganda against the serbs raging since the 1990's AND ESPECIALLY, DO NOT SUPPORT THE RIGHT FOR SERBS ON SELF-DETERMINATION & SOVEREIGNTY IN THEIR ONLY OWN AND LEGITIMATE LEFT COUNTRIES : Republic of Serbia and Republika Srpska.

You must be sooo brainwashed you people, to spread half-truths and sophisms around trying to influence (and surprisingly succeeding) the public media with Imperialistic propaganda . Remember, you can not, HOW MUCH EVER YOU WILL BE WILLING TO TRY, and WILL NOT be able to put the Serbs down. They fought so much and hard for independance throughout the CENTURIES, and survived against EXTERMINATION by Ottomans, Croatian Nazis, Germans, NATO, and so on.

Learn the history of Serbs with respect as Serbs learn your with respect, this is my hope and advice.

2013 / 10 / 15
Sremac says:

Brainwashed?

Am born and bred Vojvodinian Serb and I know my own kind very well. I don't need you to tell me who and what Serbs are.

Specially not from somebody who lives outside these borders and who is seriously detached from reality.

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