Several hundred Croat protesters have torn down signs written in Serb Cyrillic that were put up on Monday in Vukovar, a town devastated during the country’s independence war with Yugoslavia.
They were installed as part of a Croatian law that makes bilingual signs obligatory in any area where more than one third of the population belongs to an ethnic group.
Marjan Zivkovic, who has been leading the group of protesters, says that they believe “everything would have been in vain…what was done during the war.” He explains that they “defended Vukovar” and doesn’t “care about the sanctions”. Everyone will see him on television and warns that “they can sue” him or put him in jail. “Anything is better than to let this happen” he adds.
The Croatian and Serbian languages are mutually understood, however Croats use latin script while Serbians use Cyrillic.
Some Croats associate Cyrillic as a reminder of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army and Serbian militias.
Croatia already has bilingual signs in other regions. In the northern Adriatic Istrian peninsula they are in Italian and Croatian. In other areas where there is a sizable Serb minority there has been no resistance to the use Cyrillic.