Authorities checking petition for "referendum on Cyrillic"

ZAGREB -- Croatian authorities will check the validity and number of signatures to a petition asking for "a referendum on the Cyrillic script" to be held in that country.

Acitvists from Vukovar are seen in front of the Croatian assembly in Zagreb (Beta, file)
Acitvists from Vukovar are seen in front of the Croatian assembly in Zagreb (Beta, file)

The Croatian government has tasked the Ministry of Public Administration and the Statistical Office to carry out the checks, based on random samples that will be determined by the latter institution, it has been announced.

The petition was submitted to the Croatian assembly in Zagreb last December, by a group of right-wing activist and war veterans calling themselves "The Headquarters for the Defense of the Croatian Vukovar."

The group has been at the forefront of a campaign to prevent the displaying of bilingual signs on public buildings in towns, including Vukovar, where the Serb minority constitutes more than 30 percent of the population.

Under the current Croatian law, an ethnic minority that makes up 30 percent in an area has a right to official use of its language and alphabet - the Serbian Cyrillic in the case of the Serb minority. But under the proposal tabled by the Vukovar group, "a minority" would in the future constitute 50 percent of a local population.

The HQ for the Defense of the Croatian Vukovar said it gathered 650,000 signatures in favor of this proposal being put forward in a referendum.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanoviĉ stated on several occasions that such a referendum would not be held because it would not in line with EU standards, which Croatia, the organization's newest member, accepted during its accession negotiations.