A series of measures are being prepared with the goal of protecting the Serbian variant of the Cyrillic alphabet, the daily Vecernje Novosti writes.

A culture development strategy, that has recently been put up for public debate, envisages tax breaks for newspaper and book publishers printing in Cyrillic, and incentives for companies displaying their names in the official script of the Serbian language.

At the same time, a draft on changes and amendments to the Law on Official Use of Language and Script specifies the treatment of the Serbian language and the Cyrillic alphabet in Serbia’s public life, and for the first time, envisages money fines for those braking this law.

The draft, that has been set to the government – states that Cyrillic is the mother script, which, along with the Serbian language, will be used in the overall written and verbal communication of state organs, local self-governments, schools, universities, printed and electronic media, as well as companies and institutions – while the Latin variant used in Serbia will have the status of an auxiliary script.

According to the new rules, at least half of all foreign films shown on commercial TV stations will have to have Cyrillic subtitles.

Minister of Culture and Information Vladan Vukosavljevic told the newspaper that this is about protecting Cyrillic, rather than imposing it.

“It is an endangered script in Serbia. And the situation is relatively worrying, above all due to the predominant use of Latin. Of course this is not about any kind of conspiracy against Cyrillic, but about the factual state of affairs caused by the spirit of the time, historical circumstances and the multi-decade process of globalization that has made Latin a globally dominant script. Global trade, media, and especially the internet have contributed to imposing it as the script of universal communication,” said he.

Vukosavljevic noted that existing legislation also protects the Cyrillic alphabet, but said that “young people mostly turn to Latin because of the media, the internet, the logos of global brands.”

Therefore some of the measures the state is proposing are for mobile operators to stop charging more for text messages in Cyrillic, as they do now, and allow equal usage of both scripts.
According to the proposals, those who break the law will pay between RSD 5,000 and 100,000 in fines, which will range between 500,000 and one million for companies.

“Cyrillic is threatened by non-usage, which leads to extinction,” said Vukosavljevic, adding that Latin will “certainly not be erased from or banned in the school curriculum.”