The conditions for granting special rights to the Serb minority and for use of the Cyrillic alphabet in Vukovar have not been met, Mayor Ivan Penava said in the Vukovar Town Council on Friday while presenting proposed conclusions on the degree of understanding and dialogue between the town's Croat and Serb communities.
The proposal sparked an emotionally-charged debate which at one point escalated to the brink of an incident. The conclusions were eventually voted in by a majority of councillors.
The conclusions say that the two communities have reached a degree of understanding, solidarity, tolerance and dialogue that ensures cooperation and a co-existence, but that the prerequisites have not been met to enhance the scope of individual and collective rights for the Serb minority in Vukovar.
The conclusions also note that the fundamental rights of a large majority of the town's residents of all ethnic backgrounds who opposed the Serbian military aggression in 1991, such as the right to human life, dignity and freedom, are still neglected because the prosecution of war criminals is systematically delayed, and that the necessary conditions for the recognition of more special rights for the Serb minority, such as equal use of its language and script, have not been created.
The conclusions say that in light of these facts enhancing the scope of rights beyond those guaranteed by the Vukovar Town Statute and the statutory decision on the official use of the language and script of the Serb minority in Vukovar would be considered as showing disrespect and lack of understanding for the citizens of Vukovar of all ethnicities, which might adversely affect their co-existence in the town.
The conclusions, proposed by Mayor Penava of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), were adopted by 15 votes in favour, three councillors of the Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) were against, while two councillors abstained from voting.
After the mayor read out the text of the proposed conclusions, a debate followed which at one point reached the brink of an incident.
SDSS Councillor Srdjan Kolar said that the debate was going in the wrong direction and called for dialogue. He presented Mayor Penava with a copy of the Town Statute written in Cyrillic, which was formally inaugurated by the Serb National Council (SNV) in Zagreb on Thursday.
Penava threw the Statute onto the floor and then picked it up, showing it to the press and saying that this was an act of aggression by the SNV and its head Milorad Pupovac.
Deputy Mayor Marijan Pavlicek, of the Croatian Conservative Party, took off his T-shirt displaying the number of people killed in the Serbian aggression and handed it over to Kolar.