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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 September, 2004, 22:40 GMT 23:40 UK
Ethnic tensions top Serbia talks
Hungarian President Ferenc Madl has said he is confident Belgrade will put an end to reported attacks on ethnic Hungarians in northern Serbia.

Mr Madl was speaking after talks in Belgrade with the President of Serbia and Montenegro, Svetozar Marovic, and his Serbian counterpart, Boris Tadic.

There has been a rise in the number of reported attacks on ethnic Hungarians in Serbia's province of Vojvodina.

The Hungarian foreign minister has described the incidents as atrocities.

Belgrade says Hungarian politicians are exaggerating the scale of the problem.

Multi-ethnic province

President Madl said he was satisfied with the outcome of the high-profile talks in Belgrade with leaders of Serbia and Montenegro.

Serbia continues to insist on the protection of minorities
Boris Tadic
Serbian President
"I'm confident they will put an end to these incidents," Mr Madl said.

At the heart of the problem are reports of increasing incidences of violence by Serb nationalists against ethnic Hungarians, who make up about 15% of the population in Vojvodina.

The violence has included vandalism to Hungarian cemeteries, attacks on Hungarian property and threats against local politicians there.

Belgrade's pledge

The scale of the problem in Vojvodina is disputed.

Hungary wants the European Union to investigate, but Serbian officials say the tensions are being exaggerated by Hungarian politicians for political gain, the BBC's Matt Prodger in Belgrade says.

"Serbia continues to insist on the protection of minorities," President Tadic said, pledging that the authorities would do everything to prevent new incidents.

Vojvodina has for many years been an example of a successful multi-ethnic province in the Balkans.

Serbs, Croats, Hungarians and Slovaks lived relatively peacefully in the province while most of the former Yugoslavia was torn apart by war in the 1990s.


SEE ALSO:
Vojvodina denied self-rule
24 Jan 02  |  Europe
Country profile: Serbia and Montenegro
14 Jul 04  |  Country profiles
Country profile: Hungary
31 Aug 04  |  Country profiles


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