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.
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.
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.
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:
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