|Regions with significant populations|
|Vlach and Serbian|
|Predominantly Eastern Orthodox|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Romanians of Serbia|
The Vlachs (endonym in Romanian: Rumînji or Rumâni, Serbian: , romanized: Vlasi) are an ethnic minority in eastern Serbia, that consider themselves different from Romanians although some think they originated in Wallachia but also claim not to be Serbs despite most of them speaking the Serbian language. They mostly live in the Eastern Serbia region (roughly corresponding to the districts of Bor and Zaje?ar), but also in Brani?evo and Pomoravlje districts. A small Vlach population also exists in Smederevo and Velika Plana (Podunavlje District), and in the municipalities of Aleksinac and Kru?evac (Rasina District).
Vlach could be an exonym for the eastern Romance-speaking community in the Balkans that was considered foreigners in medieval time, which resulted from the occupation and colonization of the region during the Roman Empire and besides that term Vlach is later used to describe not only a member of the population but some occupations like guardians soldiers or frontier troop and cattleman as they were jobs required by medieval state in that time. So Vlach term was practically in one period of medieval time under influence of states to describe some population not necessary ethnicity, because workers they could be from different national groups that often mixed between them-self over time and later created their own new identity under such states' influence.
Early records show Vlach population lived in many parts of today's coastal Montenegro and western Bosnia including Republic of Ragusa - today Dubrovnik and Dalmatia because they migrated or where colonized to that area. During the first half of the 13th century, Serbia kingdom started colonizing different Vlach groups on royal and ecclesiastical estates on the eastern part of the Mideast Adriatic coast. While in 13-14th centuries they represented only 1/20 part of the population of that area toward 15 century Vlach population saw a large increase towards 1/3 of the total population. That increase was from 3 factors: fertility, migrations of Vlach from Old Serbia and converting of other nationality into Vlach because Ottomans conquest and their attitude especially towards conquered Serb population that often resisted occupation. During the Ottoman rule to desolated area of Serbia from Kosovo to Smederevo, Ottomans settled large numbers of Vlachs.
Today, about three-quarters of the Vlach population speak the Ungurean subdialect which is similar to the Romanian spoken in Banat while Vlachs themselves consider that they have their own language. In the 19th century, other groups of Romanians originating in Oltenia (Lesser Wallachia) also settled south of the Danube. These are the rani (Carani, ), who form some 25% of the modern population and speak a variety of Oltenian dialect. From the 15th through the 18th centuries large numbers of Serbs also migrated across the Danube, but in the opposite direction, to both Banat and ?ara Româneasca. Significant migration ended by the establishment of the kingdoms of Serbia and Romania in the second half of the 19th century. The Vlachs of northeastern Serbia share close linguistic and cultural ties with the Vlachs in the region of Vidin in Bulgaria as well as the Romanians of Banat and Oltenia (Lesser Wallachia). According to some Romanian sources, northeastern Serbia is home to several Vlach communities who speak dialects similar to ones in parts of western Romania: in Banat, Transylvania, and Oltenia (Lesser Wallachia). These are the Ungureni (Ungurjani, ), Munteni (Mun?ani, ?) and Bufeni (Bufani, ).
The Vlach language was not in use in local administration, not even in few localities where members of the minority represent more than 15% of the population, where it would be allowed according to Serbian law. mostly because of lack of teachers and because Vlach is more oral than written language so it was not possible to have writings in Vlach's. Since 2012 there is continuous effort to standardize Vlach language into written form and teaching of Vlach language has started in schools. While Vlach standard written language is developed Vlach council in Serbia in 2006. had debate to use Serbian as official language and Romanian language as literary language. That attitude of council is confirmed in its document in 2010 - endorsing Serbian language while written Vlach is developed. In 2012. Council has decided to adopt proposition on written and oral Vlach language and started to work towards its standardization.
Most Vlachs of Eastern Serbia are Orthodox Christians who had belonged to the Serbian Orthodox Church since the medieval times. The Vlachs celebrate the osp (hospitium, in Latin), called in Serbian praznik or slava as a family's annual ceremony and veneration of their patron saint that is a common tradition with Orthodox Serbs. Some Vlach political organizations also have slava. Stefan Nemanja is one of venerated patron among Vlach because he mentioned Vlach people in Hilandar monastery constitution including 170 Vlach who helped a monastery. Serbian orthodox church in Cetinje is called Vlach church - Vla?ka crkva - as remembrance on Vlachs who helped to built church. According to remembrance Vlach Ivan Borojev - built the original Vlach church in Cetnije after coming from Old Vlach country that was in area around mountain Zlatibor.
The relative isolation of the Vlachs has permitted the survival of various pre-Christian religious customs and beliefs that are frowned upon by the Orthodox Church. Vlach magic rituals are well known across modern Serbia. Some customs of the Vlachs are very similar to those from Southern Romania (Wallachia).
In the last few decades, especially since 2001, Romanian Orthodox Church non-canonically tried to claim and convert Vlach Orthodox believers in Serbia as theirs and at the same time called them Romanians, but Vlach people in Serbia did not adhere to Romanian church as the majority of Vlachs still venerate Serbia Orthodox Church saints and have their own slava. Some Romanian priests tried to have services in Serbia in places populated with Vlach. Prior to this, there was no Romanian church in places where the Romania Orthodox church in Serbia is trying now to build them.
Since 2009. there is international "Gergina" Vlach festival of music and folklore held in Serbia with many awards in different categories. There are also multiple efforts to save original Vlach poems and music and perform them to the modern public. There is also many cultural festivities including Balkan festival of traditional Vlach culture where traditional Vlach customs, dance, cloths and songs are presented.
?umijare in Vlach or ?mare - Serbian lat. is one of traditional Vlach dishes. It is made from corn flour, sheep meat, onions and cooking oil. Since 2009, there is festivity in Petrovac na Mlavi in cooking ?mare.
In the 2002 census 40,054 people in Serbia declared themselves ethnic Vlachs, and 54,818 people declared themselves speakers of the Vlach language. The Vlachs of Serbia are recognized as a minority, like the Romanians of Serbia, who number 34,576 according to the 2002 census. On the census, the Vlachs declared themselves either as Serbs, Vlachs or Romanians. Therefore, the "real" number of people of Vlach origin could be much greater than the number of recorded Vlachs, both due to mixed marriages with Serbs and also Serbian national feeling among some Vlachs.
In the 2011 census 35,330 people in Serbia declared themselves ethnic Vlachs, and 43,095 people declared themselves speakers of the Vlach language. The Vlachs of Serbia are recognized as a minority. Therefore, the number of people of Vlach origin could be bigger than the number of recorded Vlachs, both due to mixed marriages with Serbs and also Serbian national feeling among some Vlachs.
The following numbers from census data suggest the possible number of Vlachs:
The Vlach population of Central Serbia is concentrated mostly in the region bordered by the Morava River (west), Danube River (north) and Timok River (south-east). See also: List of settlements in Serbia inhabited by Vlachs.
The community is known as Vlasi ("Vlachs") - in Serbian and Vlachs are by some standards considered highly assimilated into Serbian society because it is mostly bilingual in the Serbian and Vlach languages, similar as Sorbs in Germany and in same time they are adhering to the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Some Romanians, as well as international linguists and anthropologists, consider Serbia's Vlachs to be a subgroup of Romanians. However, the results of the last census showed that most Vlachs of Eastern Serbia opted for the Serbian and Vlach exonym vlasi (= Vlachs) rather than rumuni (= Romanians).
While Vlach culture have some traditional rituals and language in parts similar to Romanians in same time Vlach names and other customs provide conclusions that they are of Old Balkan people or Slovene ancestry and they share names with Serbs. There is many people folkloric society of Vlach that are preserving customs and traditions of Vlachs.
Vlachs, since the effort of standardization of their language in 2012, started to have their own Vlachs language learned in schools in Serbia since 2017.
Vlach is commonly used as a historical umbrella term for all Latin peoples in Southeastern Europe (Romanians proper or Daco-Romanians, Aromanians, Megleno-Romanians, Istro-Romanians). After the foundation of the Romanian state in the 19th century, Romanians living in the Romanian Old Kingdom and in Austria-Hungary were only seldom called "Vlachs" by foreigners, the use of the exonym "Romanians" was encouraged even by some officials, and the Romanian population ceased to use the exonym "Vlach" for their own designation. Only in the Kingdom of Serbia and Bulgarian Kingdom, where the officials did not encourage the population to use the modern exonym "Romanian", was the old designation "Vlach" retained, but the term "Romanian" was used in statistical reports (but only up to the Interwar period, when the designation "Romanian" was changed into "Vlach").
According to Constitution and Law on protecting freedom and right of national minorities in Serbia any discrimination towards Vlach is prohibited since they are representative people that have their own language and culture. Since 2006. Vlachs had according to law formed National council of Vlachs in Serbia that has registered in mart 2007. in Serbia national registry of minorities.
Law on official using language and letters in Serbia has enabled Vlach language to be used in local communities administrations if they have enough representation in population. Beside that biggest obstacle to using Vlach language was that it is most oral language but since 2012. efforts are made toward standardization as written language since enabling with development of standardization soon to be used in local communities in schools and in administration with significant Vlach population.
The Romanian ethnonym for Vlach is Rumâni and the community Rumâni din Sârbie, translated into English as "Romanians from Serbia". They are also known in Romanian as Valahii din Serbia or Românii din Timoc. Although ethnographically and linguistically related to the Romanians, within the Vlach community there are divergences on whether or not they belong to the Romanian nation and whether or not their minority should be amalgamated with the Romanian minority in Vojvodina.
Romanian media gave false report that in a Romanian-Yugoslav agreement of November 4, 2002, the Yugoslav authorities agreed to recognize the Romanian identity of the Vlach population in Central Serbia, but the agreement was not implemented. while in actual agreement such thing is not written as there is no mention of Vlach's and document is publicly available for clarification.
In April 2005, 23 deputies from the Council of Europe, representatives from Hungary, Georgia, Lithuania, Romania, Moldova, Estonia, Armenia, Azerbaïdjan, Denmark, and Bulgaria protested against Serbia's treatment of this population.
The Senate of Romania in order to pressure Serbia to convert Vlach to Romanians postponed the ratification of Serbia's candidature for membership in the European Union until the legal status and minority right of the Romanian (Vlach) population in Serbia is clarified.
Predrag Bala?evi?, president of one of many Vlach party's in Serbia, accused the government of assimilation by using the national Vlach organization against the interests of this minority in Serbia.
Since 2010, the Vlach National Council of Serbia has been led by members of leading Serbian parties (Democrat Party and Socialist Party), most of whom are ethnic Serbs having no relation to the Vlach/Romanian minority. Radi?a Dragojevi?, the current president of Vlach National Council of Serbia, who is not a Vlach, but an ethnic Serb, stated that no one has the right to ask the Vlach minority in Serbia to identify themselves as Romanian or veto anything. As a response to mister Dragojevi?'s statement, the cultural organizations Ariadnae Filum, Dru?tvo za kulturu Vlaha - Rumuna Srbije, Dru?tvo Rumuna - Vlaha "Trajan", Dru?tvo za kulturu, jezik i religiju Vlaha - Rumuna Pomoravlja, Udru?enje za tradiciju i kulturu Vlaha "Dunav", Centar za ruralni razvoj - Vla?ka kulturna inicijativa Srbija and the Vlach Party of Serbia protested and stated that it was false.
Apoi, Valahii din Serbia, sunt harnici, muncitori, economi ?i de mare dârzenie în privin?a portului ?i a limbei.
Prin acordul privind minoritatile, semnat, luni, la Belgrad, de catre presedintii Ion Iliescu si Voislav Kostunita, statul iugoslav recunoaste dreptul apartenentei la minoritatea romaneasca din Iugoslavia al celor aproape 120.000 de vlahi (cifra neoficiala), care traiesc in Valea Timocului, in Serbia de Rasarit. Reprezentantii romanilor din Iugoslavia, profesori, ziaristi, scriitori, i-au multumit, ieri, la Pancevo, sefului statului pentru aceasta intelegere cu guvernul de la Belgrad. Acordul este considerat de importanta istorica pentru romanii din Valea Timocului, care, din timpul lui Iosip Broz Tito, traiesc fara drept la invatamant si viata religioasa in limba materna, practic nerecunoscuti ca etnie. "Nu vom face ca fostul regim, sa numim noi care sunt minoritatile nationale sau sa stergem cu guma alte minoritati", a spus, ieri, Rasim Ljajic, ministrul sarb pentru minoritati, la intalnirea de la Pancevo a presedintelui cu romanii din Iugoslavia. Deocamdata, statul iugoslav nu a recunoscut prin lege statutul vlahilor de pe Valea Timocului, insa de-acum va acorda acestora dreptul la optiunea etnica, va permite, in decembrie, constituirea Consiliului Reprezentantilor Romani si va participa in Comisia mixta romano-iugoslava la monitorizarea problemelor minoritatilor sarba si romana din cele doua state. In Iugoslavia traiesc cateva sute de mii de romani. Presedintele Ion Iliescu s-a angajat, ieri, pentru o politica mai activa privind romanii din afara granitelor: "Avem mari datorii fata de romanii care traiesc in afara granitelor. Autocritic vorbind, nu ne-am facut intotdeauna datoria. De dragul de a nu afecta relatiile noastre cu vecinii, am fost mai retinuti, mai prudenti in a sustine cauza romanilor din statele vecine. (...) Ungurii ne dau lectii din acest punct de vedere", a spus presedintele, precizand ca romanii trebuie sa-si apere cauza "pe baza de buna intelegere".