Zagreb – Barbara Antolić Vupora, the Croatian MP of Slovenian descent, has appealed to fellow ethnic Slovenians in Croatia to declare themselves so in the ongoing census to ensure their grandchildren enjoy at least the same standard of minority rights as the minority enjoys today.
Talking with the STA on Friday, Antolić Vupora warned that Slovenians were slowly disappearing as a minority in Croatia, which could lead to a loss of rights they are guaranteed under Croatian legislation.
Beginning on Monday, the population count in Croatia is running until 17 October. In the first digital census, running until 26 September, citizens can fill in their data online. The others will be visited at their homes by census officers between 27 September and 17 October.
On the question of nationality, the census does not require any special explanation to be provided, so Antolić Vupora appealed to everyone who feel Slovenian or have had someone in Slovenia to “recognise that feeling, look into themselves and answer the question candidly”.
The MP, who also represents the Slovenian minority in the Varaždin county, had a press conference there today to highlight the importance of the census.
She said that by declaring themselves Slovenian, the ethnic Slovenians in Croatia will ensure at least the same standard of minority rights as they have to their grandchildren.
She noted in particular the right to Slovenian language and culture classes in Croatian schools but also participation of minority representatives in local and regional government bodies.
“Help the disappearing minority to survive,” she appealed, noting that many do not differentiate between nationality and citizenship.
In the most recent census in Croatia in 2011, 10,517 people declared themselves Slovenian, less than half the figure in 1991, at 22,376. In the 2001 census there were 13,713.
Antolić Vupora expects that the figure will be even lower in this year’s census.
She believes the reason for the decrease in numbers after both countries went independent in 1991 was that many Slovenians wanted to tackle their status in the country, thus declaring themselves Croatian.
Another reason for them to declare themselves Croatian was that Croatia’s territorial integrity was threatened by war and they helped in its defence.
“If they took up a gun then, they should take up a pen now and help the survival of Slovenians in Croatia by declaring themselves Slovenian,” she said.
The MP believes that Slovenian cultural associations in Croatia should get more engaged publicly over the matter.