Around 100 ex-servicemen demonstrated in the Croatian city of Vukovar on Wednesday, attempting to stop the authorities putting up street signs in Cyrillic for the Serb minority.The war veterans took to the streets of Vukovar after Croatian media reported that the authorities planned to introduce the combined Latin and Cyrillic signs on Wednesday.
Veterans’ associations said they would ‘guard’ the current Latin signs around Vukovar to stop them being changed.
Croatian state television’s website showed photographs of some of the protesters holding up banners with slogans vowing that the city, which was besieged and badly damaged by the Yugoslav Army in 1991, would never be known by a Cyrillic name.
However unofficial government sources said on Tuesday afternoon that the introduction of dual-script street signs could be postponed.
Public controversy erupted two months ago after the government announced that it planned to introduce official use of the Serbian language and Cyrillic script into about 20 Croatian municipalities where Serbs make up more than a third of the population.
Officials cited a constitutional provision on minority rights and said it would also apply to Vukovar where, according to the 2011 census, 34.87 per cent of the population are ethnic Serbs.
Veterans of the 1991-95 conflict strongly oppose the change in Vukovar, which became a symbol of Croatian resistance after it was devastated during the wartime siege.
Around 20,000 protesters rallied in the city this month against the plan.