Hungarian American Coalition Calls for Autonomy for Vojvodina

In a Memorandum issued July 30, the Hungarian American Coalition called upon the United States government and its NATO allies to accept the autonomy aspirations of the Hungarian minority in Vojvodina, a formerly autonomous province of Yugoslavia.

Vojvodina, whose self-governing provincial institutions were abolished by Milosevic in 1988, is home to most of the 350,000 ethnic Hungarians in present-day Yugoslavia. According to background information accompanying the Memorandum, the Milosevic government continues “an aggressive policy of Serbianization” by placing Serb refugees in the most important Hungarian settlements. “The present danger is that the war in Kosovo, and its aftermath will again provide an opportunity for the final expulsion of the remaining 350,000 Hungarians.”

The Hungarian American Coalition calls for the reestablishment of Vojvodina’s self-governing institutions. In view of recent demographic changes, however, the Coalition declares that “the autonomy concept must be revised to also apply separately to the northern one-fourth of the province.” This region, where Hungarians constitute a clear plurality, is home to most of present-day Yugoslavia’s Hungarian minority.

The Coalition calls upon the new Yugoslavian government to “desist from policies of Serbianization, including the settlement of more Serb refugees in Hungarian or other minority inhabited regions” and “keep Serb paramilitary units out of these areas,” in addition to guaranteeing the security and human rights of all inhabitants.

Finally, in the event that Yugoslavia fails to observe these requirements, the Coalition Memorandum states, “then the northern one-fourth of Vojvodina should be detached from Serbia as a preventive territorial adjustment,” in the context of an internationally supervised plebiscite. “It should become a generally accepted principle that a state abdicates its rights to govern the territorial settlements of its minority peoples if it threatens these peoples with extinction” as an ethnic collectivity.

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