Croatia: Plaques in Serbian broken with hammers
The authorities in the Croatian town of Vukovar on Monday failed in their attempt to put up public administration plaques in two languages.Source: Tanjug, index.hr, 24sata.hr
The plaques contained inscriptions in Croatian, and in the Serbian Cyrillic.
But a group of protesters gathered and forcefully removed and destroyed the items.
The protesters have been described in reports as "citizens, and members of the HQ for the Defense of the Croatian Vukovar."
The group first targeted the Tax Administration building, where they used hammers to smash the plaque and remove it, and later repeated this when they removed the plaque placed on the building housing the Vukovar police.
More than 50 demonstrators confronted seven police officers in front of the Tax Administration, while they later overpowered 20 police officers in front of the local police HQ.
The leader of the group, Tomislav Josić, "dismissed" the demonstrators after that, but warned that bilingual plaques would be removed again in the future, and cautioned "all Croatian politicians to consider it well and be very careful about what they are doing."
According to Croatia's Constitutional Law, an ethnic minority making up more than a third of a local self-government is entitled to have their language included in inscriptions on public administration plaques.
According to the latest census, there are some 20 municipalities and towns in Croatia where Serbs form more than a third of the local population.
Inscriptions in Cyrillic have met with most resistance in Vukovar, mostly from the right-wing parties and associations of veterans from the last war.
Commenting on Monday's incidents, Croatian Administration Minister Arsen Bauk said that the placing of the plaques was "in line with previous announcements and agreements," and that the events in Vukovar were "somewhat politically motivated."
The minister also stated that he believed there would be "enough time for a political debate", in the coming days and weeks.
Later on Monday, the Croatian police announced that several persons were arrested on suspicion that they committed criminal acts during the protest.