Restoration of Voivodina’s Autonomy: A Model of Multi-Ethnic Stability in Former Yugoslavia

The Hungarian American Coalition and the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation will hold a groundbreaking international Seminar in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, June 28, 2001, concerning the future of the province of Voivodina, Yugoslavia (June 28, 2001 – Mansfield Room (S 207) of the Capitol).

This one-day Seminar comes at a critical moment before the Donors’ Conference on Yugoslavia, to be held in July. Through focusing on the multi-ethnic province of Voivodina, the Seminar will provide an opportunity for policy-makers in Washington to examine factors required to assure regional stability in all parts of former Yugoslavia. (consider the critical elements of regional stability).

Two panels of academic and policy experts will provide an insight into present conditions in Voivodina, and discuss various policy options for the future. Panelist Julie Mertus (American University) will draw parallels between the Kosovo and Voivodina regions. Janusz Bugajski (CSIS) will address the over-all question of regional stability, while Paul Goble (RFE) will consider the prospects and limits of minority self-determination within the present-day Yugoslav political order. The historical context for this discussion will be provided by Charles Ingrao, of Purdue University, while the conditions and expectations of the Serb population and the largest minority, the Hungarians, will be provided by Nenad Čanak (Serb Reform Leader of Voivodina) and László Józsa (Vice President of the Alliance of Hungarians in Voivodina) respectively.

For centuries, Voivodina has constituted a unique ethnic mosaic of over a dozen nations and all of the region’s major religions. This historic multi-ethnic province prospered until its autonomy was revoked in 1988 by Milosevic, one year before Kosovo’s autonomy was abolished.

Voivodina was at the forefront of the anti-Milosevic DOS movement that successfully toppled the dictatorship. Many among the democratically elected Serbian leadership – supported by the 300,000-large Hungarian minority community – advocate various levels of autonomy in Voivodina in order to promote ethnic tolerance and local self-government. Support for the restoration of Voivodina’s autonomy represents a crucial opportunity for U.S. policymakers to promote the legitimate aspirations of those groups that choose democratic, moderate and peaceful solutions to help shape a new order in Central Europe and the Balkans.

The Hungarian American Coalition is a nationwide non-profit organization that promotes public understanding and awareness of Hungarian American issues.

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