The Croatian parliament's Committee on Human and Minority Rights on Thursday decided by a majority vote to ask the Constitutional Court to determine if two statutory documents regulating the issue of bilingual signs in the eastern town of Vukovar are in line with the Constitution.
The request for the Constitutional Court to rule if the Statutory Decision on Amendments to the Vukovar Town Statute and the Statutory Decision on the Equal Official Use of the Serb Minority Language and Script in Vukovar was launched by a Social Democrat and former public administration minister in charge of ethnic minorities, Arsen Bauk.
The motion was supported by six committee members, while four committee members from the ruling HDZ and Bridge parties voted against, and former Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) member Mirko Raskovic abstained.
Bauk recalled that the Constitutional Court in August 2014 asked the Vukovar Town Council to explicitly define by August 2015 individual and collective rights of the Serb minority "within a scope that does not harm the substance of those rights while respecting the needs of the majority Croat people arising from the still present consequences of the Greater Serbian aggression on that town."
"The Town Council amended the town statute but not in the way requested by the Constitutional Court," said Bauk.
Committee chair Furio Radin added that the Committee had the right to ask the Constitutional Court to see if the said documents complied with the Constitution based on the Constitutional Law on the Constitutional Court.
Committee member Milorad Pupovac of the SDSS wanted to know if the committee's request had been forwarded to the government and if the government had stated its position on it.
"The government should have approached the Constitutional Court on the matter and since it did not, they obviously think that the regulations of the Vukovar Town Statute are in line with the law," said Bauk, adding that he did not see any reason to forward the motion to the government.
On the last day of his term as minister, in late January, Bauk adopted a decision repealing some parts of the Statutory Decision on Amendments to the Vukovar Town Statute of 17 August 2015 and the Statutory Decision on the Equal Official Use of the Serb Minority Language and Script in Vukovar of 17 August 2015.
He proposed at the time that the government should request the Constitutional Court to check if the disputable parts of the said statutory decisions were in line with the Constitution, thus suspending a regulation based on which, in October every year, the Vukovar Town Council discusses the achieved level of tolerance among residents of Vukovar and decides on the possibility and need for expanding minority rights.