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.