Reflections from the future in the Balkans II
1- I passed from the most quiet zone in the Balkans to the most disrupted one, where during the 90’s different wars took place, in the former Yugoslavia. It’s where the things got “balkanized”. After reading quite a bit and talking with the locals in different countries, I understand less than before, I only know that a lot of people died, almost 200.000, in 4 useless wars caused by exaggerated nationalism, religious-ethnic fights and economic interests. They are all the same, but, of course, the Croats are Catholics, the Serbians are Orthodoxs and the Bosnians are Muslims. And they all speak the same language, but they call it Bosnian, Croatian or Serbian, depending on where you are.
2- Bosnia-Herzegovina was the most affected country. At least 20.000 women were raped, it’s full of cemeteries everywhere, bullet holes in nearly all the buildings, houses in state of ruin, and the landmines and dead bodies are still being found nowadays, 20 years after the first act of genocide since the 2nd World War: the Srebenica massacre, when the Serbian-Bosnians annihilated 8.000 Muslim-Bosnians. Now the country is recovering, divided in 3 parts, 3 religions, and the ethnic discrimination is everywhere. For instance, if you’re a Muslim-Bosnian don’t expect to get a job in Croatian-Bosnian company, and vice-versa. And better not to talk about the Serbian-Bosnian region. Bosnia hurts, as well as Cambodia and many different places where the war is recent or current. And here the 1st World War started, when a Serbian-Bosnian nationalist shot at the Archduke of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. They don’t take shit from anyone, but maybe they overreact.
3- On this side of the Balkans, three things draw my attention. One is that many people don’t pay for the bus/train, specially by night, is like a generalized corruption. Another one is that it’s allowed to smoke everywhere, and is suffocating to be in a bar by night, because almost all the young people smoke. And last, they drink hot wine with cinnamon to fight the cold weather, it’s called gluwein, it’s originally from Austria and it’s quite good. I already told them that if you make something like this in South America or in certain European countries, they would hang you in the public square. By your balls.
4- Well, Serbia. I don’t know if I should hate or love Belgrade, because of being the epicenter of all the wars, of the centralism in the Tito era, of the Kosovo disaster, of the self-management socialism, of the Milosevic madness and of all the Yugoslavian contradictions. But is a nice city, resentful with United States and NATO for all the illegal bombings of 1999, still a mixture of the best form of socialism and the most psychopath ultra-nationalism. The city that gave birth to the partisans that defeated the fascism-nazism, the former capital of Yugoslavia swings between the anti-imperialism of the Kosovo war and the insane assassination of the Prime Minister Dindic in 2003. And it also hurts, is capricious, almost incomprehensible.
5- Croatia is lovely. A touristic country, nationalist, also hard to understand. But as a large part of Game of Thrones was shot there, I definitely support them. Too bad that they are sooo catholic, and unfriendly with Serbia, Slovenia… a normal thing among the Balkan neighbors. And they also invented the tie knot, being the tie the most useless and elitist accessory on earth. They also swing between the most consumerist capitalism and the nostalgia of the free houses and the work-for-everybody.
6- Slovenia is a cute little thing, with a good socioeconomic level, which don’t keep them from doing some crazy things like selling horse meat burgers and having a hitch-hiking museum, founded by a guy that did 300.000 kilometers by auto-stop (that is like traveling all the way around the world 7 times). And I almost froze to death there, really.
Anyway, the Balkans are insane. In the good and the bad turn of the word. I met amazing people by hitch-hiking and staying with locals, and Belgrade gave me the opportunity of taking part in the Transeuropa Festival to learn a lot about alternative European movements, urban interventions and different ways of resistance against the attacks of the transnational capitalism.
I’m already in Italy, my 20th country… one of our mothers, gorgeous, old and crazyyy, I’m already choking on so much pasta, pizza and wine. Ci vediamo ragazzi, buona fortuna!
Originally written on October 19th, 2015, in Padova, Italy.