U.S. English Foundation Research



Language Research

3. Language issues: Where does one observe language to be a problem in the country?

The minority problem is extremely politicized in Yugoslavia. The situation is generally described as one where, despite proclaimed principles of equality and non-discrimination, the ethnic minorities are more and more often facing suppression, and even discrimination. This includes a reduction in the right to education using their respective mother language. Regression from cultural life and a disappearance of minorities’ institutions in the field of culture, media etc. are some of the results. Much of this situation is caused by an outstanding psychological, political and propagandistic pressure organized by state institutions, parties, scientific and cultural institutions, even those within minorities; combined with a very active media role controlled by the State. There are also acts of violence that could be categorized as “genocide”.

Albanian, Hungarian and Muslim minorities predominate in Yugoslavia. Other national minorities – Bulgarians, Slovaks, Ruthenians, Romanians, Turks, Romas and others – are not sufficiently organized and their problems are therefore marginal in the eyes of many.

The Hungarians are a minority in Vojvodina, with a local majority in certain municipalities. They neither demand secession, nor seek to rejoin Hungary. The Hungarians in Vojvodina are preoccupied with the need to protect their cultural identity and to protect themselves from discrimination.

The Muslims in Sanjak use the same language as the Serb majority, but like the other minorities, they see themselves as a part of a separate “national entity”, whose majority belongs to the neighboring state (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Problems associated with the protection of this minority pertain to the securing of religious freedoms and halting discrimination. It is said that the loyalty of a minority to the State is based upon the conviction of its members that they are equal in their rights and options with other citizens and ethnic communities. In the FRY this is often not the case, primarily because of a widespread chauvinism among members of the majority, as well as among minority ethnic communities.

According to the Laws and the Constitution, minorities are seen as citizens with full rights and as a constructive part of the Yugoslavian community. They should otherwise be kept in their present status, since they are seen as “not constructive” and as “separatist oriented”.

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