Academic journal article Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe : JEMIE

Exploring the Opportunities for Trans-Ethnic Cooperation within and across Serbia through the National Minority Councils

Academic journal article Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe : JEMIE

Exploring the Opportunities for Trans-Ethnic Cooperation within and across Serbia through the National Minority Councils

Article excerpt

National councils of nat iona l minorities (NCNM) or nat iona l minority counc ils (NMC's) or national councils (NC's) are repre sentative organs of nat iona l minorit ie s a s c ollect ive s in Se rbia and t hey are legally de signed to be part ners a nd advisory bodie s of state a uthorit ie s. NM C's are special bodies of self-governme nt in the fields of culture, e duc ation, informat ion and offic ial use of minority languages and scripts. The se spec ial bodies participate in decision-ma king proce sses or decide on the issue s related to these fie lds, a nd they can establish inst itut ions, business companies and other organisat ions in the fields ment ione d. As such NMC's can serve a s a c ha nne l for dialogue and cooperat ion bet wee n the et hnic itie s that they repre sent a nd state governments, local aut horit ies, non-gove rnmenta l organizations, inte rnational organizat ions a nd ot her actors.

Serbia is a multi-ethnic (Appe ndix A, pp.22-23), mult i-fa ith a nd multilingua l count ry. More than twenty different ethnic communit ie s live in Serbia. The tota l populat ion of Se rbia without Kosovo and Metohija 1 is est imated to be 7 186 8622. The largest ethnic group is Serbian, constitut ing 83,3 % of tota l population. Of the ethnic minoritie s, t he large st group is Hunga rian (3,5 %), followed by Roma (2,1%) and Bosniaks communities (2% ). Other ethnicities constitute less than 1% of total population.3 The dominant religion in Serbia is Orthodox Christ ia n (84,6%), followed by Cat holic (5%), Islam (3%), Protesta nt (1%) a nd othe r re ligions4. The official and most widely used language is Se rbia n; a bout 88 % of pe ople use it a s a mother tongue. The official script is Cyrillic. Ot her rec ognize d and tradit iona lly use d minority langua ges and script s in Serbia are: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgaria n, Bunjevac, Vlach, Hungarian, Ma cedonia n, German, Romani, Romanian, Ruthe nian, Slovak, Ukrainian, Croat ian and Czech (Council of Europe 2015). In t he Autonomous province of Vojvodina (AP V) six langua ges are in offic ial use, namely Serbian, Hungarian, Slovak, Croat ian, Roma nian, and Ruthe nian5. Current ly, t here are t we nty one registered nat ional counc ils of nat iona l minorit ies in Serbia6. These national minorit ie s established t heir councils in the following chronologica l order: Hungarian, Croat ia n, Rut henian, Slovak, Romanian, Ukrainian, Roma, Bunje vc i, Bosniak, Bulgarian, Greek, Macedonian, Egyptian, Vlach, Germa n, Slovenian, Cze ch, Alba nian, Askhali, Jewish, and la st ly Montene grin.

In this paper I explore the opport unit ies for trans-et hnic cooperation within and across Serbia through the NM C's. Since there a re no earlie r scientific studies e xamining trans-et hnic cooperat ion in Serbia and t here is a ve ry litt le expert ise literature that covers this topic in some aspect (Surová 2006i, Surová 2006ii, Surová 2012, Surová 2014),7 I decided to do exploratory research. According t o Mc Nabb (2015: 96), exploratory researc h can be c onducte d with the objective of carrying out a preparatory exa minat ion of issues in order to ga in insight s and ideas, or to gat her information for imme diate a pplicat ion t o a n administrat ive proble m. The rea sons to conduct explorat ory research are t o invest igat e the issues or topic s with the purpose of deve loping notions and ideas about underlying nature of inve stigat ing phe nomena . The ma in object ive of exploratory research is to obta in a s much information as possible, in litt le t ime and wit h minima l expendit ure of money. Therefore, explorat ory re search cannot serve as an " in-depth look int o all the fact ors related t o a polit ical phenome non" (Mc Nabb, 2015: 96). This paper is base d on a conference paper prepared for the conferenc e 'Trans-ethnic Coa lit ion-building wit hin and across States' organised in Uppsala in January 2015. Data for the paper we re gathe red through a literat ure review, an intervie w and a case st udy. …

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