Serbian Minister of Trade Tomislav Momirovic said on Sept. 4 that the destruction of a sign reading Subotica in the Hungarian language in that city was an act of vandalism, which he believes primarily targeted the security and interests of Serbia.
While visiting the site of the vandalized sign at the south end of the city, Momirovic denounced the act on behalf of the Serbian government, saying it "is completely unacceptable and must not be tolerated," the ministry said in a press release.
Subotica Mayor Stevan Bakic also condemned the demolishing of the sign, saying that it was an act of vandalism through which "the perpetrators want to harm historic relations between Serbs and Hungarians," and urged all denizens of Subotica "not to be taken in by the provocation."
Decorative signs with Subotica spelled out in Serbian and Hungarian, installed at the city's outskirts two months ago, were vandalized last weekend at three approaches to the city. Bakic said a Cyrillic sign was also damaged on July 26.
Brankica Jankovic, Serbian commissioner for the protection of equality, said she expected the smashed sign in Hungarian to be restored as quickly as possible and the perpetrators punished, noting that such "individual acts of vandalism are especially harmful and needless in ethnically mixed environments and could negatively affect the values of living side by side and the wealth of diversity."
Serbian ombudsman Zoran Pasalic said in a press release that "the act of vandalism that happened this weekend violates the rights of the ethnic Hungarian community to the official use of their language and alphabet in a very ugly way and represents a form of provocation that should have no place in Serbia.