Croatia: Nationalist “surge” has negative impact on minorities

Surging nationalism in Croatia is having a “negative” impact on the country’s minorities, according to a new report.

The Council of Europe’s Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) praises the “favourable legislative framework for national minorities” in Croatia.

It also welcomes steps taken to promote access to rights of persons belonging to national minorities at national and local levels but notes that existing laws are often not implemented.

According to the report’s authors, too few representatives of national minorities are employed in public services, and the right to use minority languages and scripts is not implemented in some localities.

“A surge in nationalism and political radicalisation is having a negative impact on minority rights, especially in those areas that were heavily affected by the 1990s conflict.”

Hate speech has become more acceptable in the media and in political discourse, the report reveals. Anti-minority rhetoric and prejudice dominates much of the public debate on national minorities, resulting in many individuals refraining from accessing their rights for fear of negative repercussions, according to the opinion.

The FCNM committee highlights hurdles for economic integration of returnees from the 1991-1995 conflict, including obstacles towards claiming citizenship. The committee visited Serb return areas where basic public services such as electricity, gas and water were intermittent and where no investment into severely damaged infrastructure appears to have been made since the end of the conflict.

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