This year’s forum was focused on The Linguistic Heritage of the Indigenous Croatian Enclaves of Central and Southeast Europe. Speaking on behalf of the Croatian President, state secretary Zvonko Milas reaffirmed Government’s continuing and comprehensive support of our minority communities abroad, including language programmes.
The twenty-fourth Croatian Minorities Forum, a symposium gathering representatives of ethnic Croatian enclaves in neighbouring and nearby countries that is traditionally organised by the Croatian Heritage Foundation, opened at our Zagreb headquarters on the 23rd of November. On hand were Zvonko Milas, state secretary at the State Office for Croats Abroad as the personal representative of Croatian President Grabar Kitarović, and Zdravka Bušić, a state secretary at the foreign ministry, as the personal representative of Prime Minister Plenković.
This year’s forum was focused on The Linguistic Heritage of the Indigenous Croatian Enclaves of Central and Southeast Europe. In a globalised world there are real threats to linguistic diversity. A handful of languages are squeezing out those less widely used and culturally relevant. Even those who speak languages used by significantly more people than Croatian is are apprehensive in the face of these trends. The languages and dialects of small groups—like those used in the Croatian enclaves—are threatened to an even greater degree.
The forum was attended by representatives of ethnic Croatian communities in Czechia, Hungary, Serbia, Montenegro, Italy and Romania. Also taking part were representatives of Croatian national institutions: the foreign and European affairs ministry, the science and education ministry, the State Office for Croats Abroad, the Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, and the representatives of the diplomatic missions of Czechia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Serbia in Croatia.
Forum moderator Marin Knezović, head of our department for ethnic Croatian minorities abroad, opened the proceedings and introduced CHF director Mijo Marić, who greeted the forum participants and guests on behalf of the organising institution. Director Marić pointed to the importance of preserving our language; in particular the local dialects used in Croatian enclaves in other European countries, and expressed the CHF’s intention to continue its support of these efforts.
In her welcome address state secretary Zdravka Bušić noted that she has visited many of our communities and is well briefed on the problems they face. She noted the example of the Croatians in Slovenia, still awaiting official recognition of their status as an ethnic minority. In this regard Croatia, said Bušić, has an obligation to provide help in every way it can.
In his welcome address state secretary Zvonko Milas informed the forum of projects implemented by the State Office for Croats Abroad. These include a registry of Croatian entities abroad, scholarships for students from abroad studying in Croatia, online Croatian language courses and many others. Milas also noted that there has been a significant hike this year in the funding made available to ethnic Croatian enclaves and that this trend is set to continue in the coming year.
The forum saw a number of excellent lectures, including The Croatian Language School in Boka Kotorska (Ljerka Sindik); The Linguistic Heritage of the Indigenous Croatian Enclaves of Central and Southeast Europe (Ivan Gugan); The Linguistic Heritage of the Molise Region Croats (Antonio Sammartino); The Language Spoken by the Caraşova Croats (Ana Filca, Maria Vlasici); Dialects in the Jaws of Language (Zlatko Romić); Language and Identity (Zvonko Deković); A Short Overview of the Croatian Dialect of the Town of Bar and its Environs (Vladimir Marvučić); The Ikavian Dialect of the Podunavlje Croats (Mata Matarić); Croatians Idioms in the Indigenous Communities in the Context of the Preservation of the National Identity of Minority Enclaves (Sanja Vulić); and The Croatian Language in the Foundations of Croatian Identity (Katica Špiranec). Katarina Čeliković of the Institute for the Culture of Vojvodina Croatians presented a fascinating lecture on the linguistic heritage and the perspectives for the preservation of Croatian in Serbia and Vojvodina.
Link: The Forum Conclusions
By: Hrvoje Salopek; Photography: Snježana Radoš