Putting Nikola Tesla's image on the national side of euro coins if Croatia joined the euro zone would "represent appropriation of the cultural and scientific legacy of the Serb people," said the Serbian Central Bank (NBS) on Thursday.
“The famous scientist declared himself as Serb by descent and birth,” the NBS said, adding if his image ended up on the Croatian euro coins, “appropriate action would certainly be taken at the relevant European Union institutions.”
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic announced on Wednesday that Tesla’s image will appear on 50, 20, and 10 cent euro coins when Croatia joins the euro area.
Both Serbia and Croatia consider Tesla as their own, as he was an ethnic Serb who was born and spent his youth in Croatia.
Tesla was born in the Croatian village of Smiljan, then a part of the Austro-Hungarian military frontier. His father was a priest of the Serbian Orthodox Church. After receiving an education first in the Croatian towns of Gospic and Karlovac, and then in Graz, he moved first to Budapest and later to Paris, before leaving for New York, where he became a naturalised US citizen. Tesla himself is widely quoted as saying he was “proud of his Serb origin and Croatian homeland.”
Citing sources at the NBS, the Serbian Tanjug news agency said the bank’s statement on taking action on the EU level would “point to how inappropriate (Croatia’s) proposal is.”
The motifs for the Croatian national side of euro coins were voted on by the people in Croatia in an online survey, where they could choose between the five offered suggestions or put in their own. The image of Nikola Tesla was one of more than 11,000 free suggestions, and it received over a fifth of all votes.
As a result, the Croatian Central Bank’s Currency Committee on Wednesday defined a final proposal of the motifs, which included the image of Tesla.
The other motifs will be the Croatian coat-of-arms, a map of Croatia, the marten (after which the Croatian currency is named), and the Glagolitic script.