Discovering an old-but-unknown example of multiethnic life in Vojvodina, Serbia

Arriving at Belgrade’s airport is not a particularly surprising experience, airports normally comply with international standards and the one of the capital of Serbia does not constitute an exception. Apart from the Cyrillic alphabet and the pictures of the reward for the capture of the already ultra-famous General Mladic, we have the impression of arriving in a normal European hub.
Tuesday the 20th 2009 was though a particular occasion in Belgrade, the Prime Minister of Russia Medvedev was in its official visit in Serbia, he was expected to speak before the Parliament and to meet all the most influential personalities of the country from the President of the Republic to the National Representative of the Orthodox Church. Traffic was blocked, gridlocks frequent and Serbia returning for a moment under the lights of the international political scene, this time almost and hopefully with a different medium-long term perspective.
The country is in fact undertaking a new diplomatic relaunch: unavoidably an essential pawn for the complete European Integration of the Balkans and strategically positioned both for the energy and transport corridors, Serbia is playing its cards to regain a role, notwithstanding the highly burdening and still troubled Kosovo issue.
Nevertheless, changing the scenario, moving to just 180 kilometres North from Belgrade and taking a little stroll in the centre of Subotica, one of the biggest town in Vojvodina , a non usual pictures of Serbia emerge: the streets signs are written in three different characters, in Cyrillic letters, in Latin ones and in Hungarian, the city town hall has a visible Austro-Hungarian architectural stile which perfectly coexists with some others buildings, evidently constructed during the former Yugoslavia time. As urbanists normally say, the architectural structure and the way a city has developed itself constitute the soul of the place, representing its past history and its current way of living.
Thus, the normal foreign image of the country of a monolithic and ethnical homogeneous State is immediately reversed. Indeed, the Vojvodina Region has a centenarian history of peaceful coexistence even under the 1990s, when the Milosovic-led regime has represented the apex of the recent ethnical-based political rethoric. This tradition has resisted the hard time of the clashing of the former Yugoslavia, allowing the region to host many refugees or simply other people moving from various part of the Balkans (for example, Slavonia in Croatia and some parts of Bosnia ).
As we can read simply opening  wikipedia’s pages,  “during his history Subotica has belonged to several states and empires. Most of the ethnic communities have a common centenarian history, while others are newcomers as refugees and displaced persons from war affected areas”. The current population of Subotica is in fact composed of Hungarians 38,50, Serbs 24,14%, Croats 11,24%, Bunjevac 10,95%. The remaining 17, 17% are composed of: Yugoslavs, Montenegrins, Roma, Albanians, Ruthenians and a few other nationalities.
During the first part of the 90s,  the attention was concentrated on Bosnia and just  some time after, in 1999, on the Nato bombing of Serbia. Due to these tragic events, even the experts of the area have concentrated their attention on other parts of the Balkans, forgetting this part of the country. In times of European Integration and after the Irish referendum, we cannot avoid to look at this example which enhances the hope of a successful candidature of Serbia in the European Union.

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