In late October 2010 the European Parliament Rapporteur for Serbia Jelko Kacin expressed Brussels` will concerning Serbia’s integration in Europe and “the Vojvodina issue”. He said that Serbia should be ready for ‘difficult home tasks’ from the European Commission- such as reform of the legislation system, more freedom to mass media and settlement of the Vojvodina problem.
Brussels puts forward two key requirements to accept Serbia in the EU: to hand over Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic for trial and- what is seen as a key requirement- to divide Serbia into several districts.
Those who back the separatist idea rely on the results of the International Conference on Yugoslavia, which took place in London in August 1992. Violating Serbia`s constitutional norms, the London Conference concluded that Kosovo and Vojvodina, as well the other six republics of Yugoslavia, were constituent parts of Yugoslavia.
Later the six aforementioned republics became independent states, with Kosovo enjoying overall western support and seeking independence, and Vojvodina and Sandjak.
The Vojvodina issue was announced ‘unsettled’, with three variants remaining for the situation to unfold: to grant more autonomy to the area; to annex the Hungarian-inhabited northern part of Vojvodina to Hungary, or to separate the whole Vojvodina to make the collapse of Yugoslavia complete. All these variants suggest protecting minority rights.
According to separatists in Vojvodina, Serbia has failed to fulfill the ‘key agreements’ outlined in the 1918 resolution “On Vojvodina`s Annexation to the Kingdom of Serbia” which guaranteed this Serbian province “freedom, equality and progress”. Serbia allegedly violated its obligations under Slobodan Milosevic (in 1988 he cancelled Vojvodina`s autonomy), and in 2006, when Vojvodina was proclaimed a ‘subordinate subject’ under a new Constitution. Separatists approve neither the statute of Vojvodina adopted in 2009 nor a possibility to get back to the 1974 law. They want more and are fully backed by the EU. In the second part of 2011 it is expected to set up a representation office of Vojvodina in Brussels, and empower members of the European Parliament to control how the area is being granted autonomy.
The 2006 Constitution is viewed as a major obstacle to the division of Serbia into several districts. The document, which is likely to be abolished after snap elections, contains a vague point which sounds like “support of the Serbian citizens who face many hardships in their everyday life since the existing Constitution prevents them from managing their lives”. A center-right government is said to be a major barrier on the way to a “better life”. A recipe offered by separatists suggests establishing an alternative power.
To make people protest against plans to unite Serbia’s regions (the idea suggested by M. Dinkic) they need to launch a new round of debates on the issue. The project suggests dividing Serbia into seven regions, creating an assembly of 35 members, reducing the number of seats up to 200 in the National Assembly of Serbia (Narodna Skupština) and shifting to mixed electoral system like in Vojvodina. The party led by Dinkic is supported by the official Belgrade. On 26 March 2009 an assembly of the national council was established to deal with decentralization of power in Serbia. The council is due to adopt a strategic plan of decentralization (in other words, to separate the country- A.F.). The council is led by N. Chanak, known for having a taste for sensations.
Hungarian separatists in Vojvodina can boast an overall support of Budapest, their only ally. They however receive support from Brussels as well – through “The European Issues” foundation, which provides financial assistance as part of the $12 million program for trans-border cooperation between Serbia and Hungary. There is also another program, the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, aimed at developing a macro-region of Danube.
In May 2010 Hungary adopted a bill on double citizenship for Hungarians living in neighboring countries. It is due to take effect on 1 January, 2011, and affect 3,5 million Hungarians citizens residing in Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia, Ukraine and Austria. Groups of political activists have been formed in Vojvodina ready to carry out a campaign resulting in the district’s exit from Serbia.
However, chances are very low for the project to be a success. It is enough to have a look at how disproportional countries are developing inside the European Union (Wallonia and Flandria, the north and the south of Italy, e.t.c). In case of Serbia, an artificially created ‘European region’ will mean nothing more but handing over power to subnational institutions in Brussels.