Croatian authorities and leaders of ethnic Croats in Serbia on Monday called on members of the Croat community in Serbia to identify themselves as Croats in the upcoming 2022 Serbian census in October, explaining that the "outcome of the census will impact their status in the next 10 years."
According to the 2011 census in Serbia, there were 57,900 ethnic Croats living in that country, which was 12,000 down from 2001. In Serbia’s total population of about 7.2 million, Croats account for 0.8 percent. The majority of them live in Serbia’s northern province of Vojvodina, adjacent to the border with eastern Croatia.
The head of the central state office for Croats living outside Croatia, Zvonko Milas, held a meeting with the leader of the political party of Vojvodina Croats DSHV, Tomislav Zigmanov, and the head of the Croatian National Council (HNV) in Serbia, Jasna Vojnic, ahead of the new 2022 census, scheduled for October.
After the meeting, Milas told the press that it was of “utmost importance” for members of the Croat community in Serbia to turn out for the census and declare themselves as the Croats. Milas said he “made sure that Croatia would continue providing political, moral and financial support” to Croats living in Serbia.
Vojnic said that in the 2011 census there were more than 300,000 people who either self-identified as Yugoslavs, or members of the Bunjevci community, or who declined to answer that question. She said she believed that a majority of these were in fact ethnic Croats.
Bunjevci are a small ethnic group in northern Serbia which Croatia officially views as a subgroup of Croats.
“Unfortunately, Croats are often presented in the media in a negative context, and this has implications, and spreads fears among the population, which leads to some people not wishing to identify as belonging to their ethnic group,” said Vojnic.
“It is therefore very important that Croatia’s authorities send an unanimous message that we can clearly and bravely declare ourselves as the Croats in the next census. It is not only a statistic, this will have an impact on our status in the next 10 years,” she said, without clarifying.