Skip to main content
May 4, 1992
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 32
Interview: Andras Agoston

A Dialogue Is Indispensable

by Dimitrije Boarov

Although there was no official announcement after the two hour meeting on April 24 between Mr. Agoston, the leader of the DZVM (Democratic Union of Hungarians from Vojvodina), and Slobodan Milosevic, nor was it shown on TV, it was interpreted as the beginning of a dialogue between the Serbian state and its minorities. Indeed, it was a genuine dialogue, since, as one of the participants revealed, Mr. Milosevic was very talkative. Are we dealing here with "tactical benevolence" on the part of the Serbian president, or with an authentic openness to dialogue? This was our first question to Mr. Agoston.

At this moment it is hard to anticipate the outcome of our talks with Mr. Milosevic. Even before this meeting we showed initiative to talk with the President and Government representatives. The fact is that I personally have met with the President on several occasions, but this is the first time that, on his request, other DZVM representatives participated as well.

I think that this last meeting brought about something new, simply by the fact that we all agreed that dialogue is indispensable. That is the main point. It was of special importance to us that the President received us as representatives of an ethnic minority's organization, thus confirming our political subjectivity.

As for the results, I see two major points. Firstly, the discussion on the issues we started will be continued by a work group, and secondly, we agreed that DZVM should conceive the platform for further talks.

Have some concrete issues been put on the agenda, such as models for the autonomy for the Hungarians, or the fate of those who left the country, fleeing from mobilization?

All these issues were put down in the letter I addressed to the President prior to the meeting. I suggested that we shouldn't go into details before we establish the main direction of our activities.

The DZVM has been accused of "political selfishness" and lack of interest for the status of other ethnic minorities in Serbia. Do you think that such allegations reflect the attitude of the Serbian authorities towards ethnic minorities in general?

I haven't heard of such accusations coming from other minorities' representatives with which we have good cooperation and regular contacts. The fact that we managed to take a step further in our organized political action is another thing. When it comes to concrete solutions, we always bear in mind the specificity of the region. Vojvodina is a distinct territory in which we represent a genuine ethnic minority - we do not pose a threat the state by our number, birth rate and, naturally, in harmony with the political processes in Europe, we do not seek a change of borders, but only collective minority rights.

Could your proposals also be applied to the biggest ethnic minority in Serbia - the Albanians?

We have to deal with real, everyday politics, and with theoretical problems only when it's necessary. We can't say whether these two ethnic minorities can be compared. Nevertheless, when we adopted the proposals concerning a model for autonomy for the Hungarians, we assumed that they were above daily politics and that they could be applied elsewhere.

We have good relations with the Albanian alternative. However, we think that joint political action could favor them at our expense.

The special status autonomy model which you have proposed and which turns Vojvodina into some kind of Hungarian Krajina caused great suspicion. You even mentioned a Hungarian autonomous region with a dozen municipalities on the North of Vojvodina.

According to Carrington's document on the autonomy of minorities, we have indeed considered the possibility of unifying communities with a majority Hungarian population. I saw our proposal as the basis for concrete talks which would bring us to a mutually acceptable solution. Such a unification could have economic importance. I primarily have in mind the opening of Yugoslavia towards the world. Of course, I don't mean to say that the political aspect can be neglected, I accept that.

You've been criticizing certain points in the recently proclaimed Constitution of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, but you were present at the proclamation of third Yugoslavia, unlike most of the opposition parties.

I would like to remind you that we do not intend to get involved in the quarrels of the South Slavs. We accepted the creation of a new Yugoslavia as a political reality. We also wanted to show our traditional loyalty.

Our criticism is aimed at those points of the Constitution which deal with ethnic minorities. We feel that there is a shortage of elementary institutions which would ensure the collective rights, the political subjectivity of minorities. Without them, our ideas of autonomy are unrealizable. This is why we voted against the adoption of the Constitution.

Will you participate in the federal elections?

I have said recently that elections exist in order for political parties to participate in them. However, we still haven't reached the final decision on that matter.

Do you think that the meeting you had with Slobodan Milosevic is a sign of an emerging tolerance?

Indeed, the authorities ensured that our conference was held in peace. I believe that the spirit of tolerance will spread in accordance with the wish of this state to join Europe as soon as possible.

© Copyright VREME NDA (1991-2001), all rights reserved.