By: Nenad Jovanović

General meeting of the Serb National Council (SNC) was held on March 9, 2024 in the hall of the Kantakuzina Katarina Branković Serbian Orthodox Secondary School in Zagreb

By: N. Jovanović

General meeting delegates, representatives of the umbrella institution of minority self-government in Croatia, were happy to receive news that on the previous day the Croatian government returned to the Serbian Business Association Privrednik a part of spaces that has been taken away 83 years ago. Milorad Pupovac, President of the SNC and the Independent Democratic Serb Party’s MP, was talking about circumstances in which the SNC is conducting its affairs and challenges it is faced with.

– Animosities and discrimination against Serbs are not declining, although they should have long time ago. We will do all we can to reduce them with our political, cultural, educational, media and sports activities, and to increase tolerance in every milieus in which members of our population are living in Croatia, but also to reduce all animosities which could hinder our connections with other parts of Serbian population in areas where they live permanently, and particularly in Serbia. We have to do all we can to narrow the gap between Croatia and Serbia, which nowadays has not reduced. On the contrary, it is wider in spite of great efforts done by many, us including, to change that situation, said Pupovac.

– The sheer number of projects and programs we are implementing in cooperation with the Croatian government indicate a positive situation, but the climate dictated by politics and by constant disparagement of Serbian political representatives in Croatia is not positive. Maybe the reason could be our participation in the majority government, but at the end it is always because we are Serbs. Fortunately, representatives of other minorities are not treated in the same way, or just very rarely. We are talking about a mobilization tool to maintain the extreme right political atmosphere, and to restrict and prohibit a commemorative practice we are setting up. As opposed to confrontation, we are moving in the direction in which we would look upon all victims equally, both Serbs and Croats. In the moment when we would be able to show piety towards victims in Vukovar, Medački Džep and other places, when missing Serbs would be treated equally as missing Croats, then we will be sure that the reconciliation policy between Croats and Serbs is in force, first of all us in Croatia. We are grateful to the President of Serbia and to the Prime Minister of Croatia who made it possible that representatives of minorities serve as a bridge and foundation for more complete reconciliation, emphasized Pupovac and added that we have to show we are not afraid of messages from the TV show “Bujica” or the magazine Dnevno 7, of the Homeland Movement political party and other groups.

He emphasized it is very important that Serbian media should be as close as possible to the life of community, to its problems and needs.

– National media would not inform about events, but our media have to do that. Many are not aware of Serbs in Umag and Poreč, over 2.000 Serbs live in Rijeka, we are not aware of over 4.000 Serbs in Karlovac. We are acting, but we are not helping those people to be freer and closer, not only to each other but also to us, to our organizations and to the Church with which we work together and cooperate, said the President of the SNC.

It is very encouraging that the number of location on which the Program PLUS for additional education of children will be conducted has increased from three to seven in this year.

– With various themes completed with the Program PLUS we are connecting all who are included in the program. Moreover, our goal is to have four cultural events in each milieu annually, and we would like to continue the cooperation between Croatia and Serbia on the highest level art of artistic production. It is necessary to substantially increase interest and funding for the construction and renovation of roads and waterworks, said Pupovac and emphasized the need to build retirement homes in order to secure dignified old age, but also to create jobs. Some of those projects were already prepared, announced Pupovac.

He welcomed the Government of Serbia decision to secure 500.000 Euros for the restoration of the Janković Tower’s North wing, and to help the Desnica family, who are living there for over 300 years, to complete the restoration of that important cultural monument.

He advocated for a more active engagement in the community and for increasing the motivation for participation at the elections so we would get more mandates and votes. In addition to three mandates in 12th constituency, the Independent Democratic Serb Party intents to advance in constituencies in which most Serbs are living.

– We are working and acting, but we do not advertise ourselves or barging. But, we must not rest because those who wait too long might miss the chance. We have means, programs, know-how, logistics, and examples of good practice we should use because time is running out, emphasized Boris Milošević, Deputy President of the SNC, and reminded of support provided to other Serbian organizations, such as the Prosvjeta to which its buildings complex in Preradovićeva Street in Zagreb was returned after many years of struggle, and now undergoes renovation, as well as the Privrednik House.

– An active struggle for it took many years and three Deputy Prime Ministers were working on that, said Milošević.

The host, bishop Cyril of Buenos Aires and South-Central America, administrator of the Metropolitanate of Zagreb and Ljubljana, also emphasized importance of the cooperation between Serbian organizations and the Church in order to maintain tradition, culture and language, and to exercise the rights in accordance with European and Croatian legislation.

– The Church does its job, and it is always open for cooperation with all Serbian organizations for the benefit of Serbian orthodox population. I’ve noticed a high level of unity between Serbian organizations. All of them are open and loyal to the SPC, said the bishop Cyril.

SNC’s Activity Report for the Year 2023