Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Random thoughts - the other Europe

This one doesn´t really fit anywhere but is inspired by a my day trip to Serbia and a few things I heard on the city tour today.

Belgrade struck me at the time as less European than other cities and in some ways thats true, it was ruled by the Ottoman Turks for centuries but in another way the fact the city was at war just over a decade ago is more typical of Europe than anywhere else. It is the 66 years of peace in western Europe that is odd, I mean really odd on the continent that was known for so long for its incredible violence. The place that invented religious wars, that gave us the word holocaust. In Belgrade the past was closer, it felt like just around the corner but on the long view we are all in Belgrade, all in the peace after wars that we hope won´t return but always did before.

But here´s the thing that struck me, I learnt today that the start of the Balkan wars was trigged when the economy collapsed due to government debt.

Of course there were ethnic divisions in Yugoslavia but is the difference between Serbs and Croats who speak the same language bigger than that between Germans and French, or any other pair in the EU? I hope we don´t find out but with every crisis we get a little bit closer to doing so and all the time the other Europe, the real Europe for most of history is just around the corner.

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