Friday, March 31, 2006

Civil War

I definitely was not going to post again today as I should be packing, but this little civil war (see the comments) between Jane and Reidski about Jane's post on the bombardment of Dubrovnik during the civil war between Croatia and Serbia from 1991 onwards reminded me of a story I was told when we were there in 2004. As you read it you will realise how it relates to this report about why Europeans move and this report about love. In 2004, I was at a seminar in Dubrovnik with a number of participants from across the states of the former Yugoslavia. In particular, one participant was a woman from Slovenia, who related that she had flown down to Dubrovnik with her aunt. She told us a rather sad story about her aunt. Her aunt had been living in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, in the 1960s. She met a man doing his military service in the Federal Yugoslav Army. Tito's Yugoslavia had a policy of posting men in the army to republics other than the ones from which they came. This man was from Bosnia, and I think he was a Bosnian Muslim. One reason for this policy was precisely to promote intermarriage across the republics. Anyway, they fell in love, and after he had finished his service they settled in Dubrovnik, which is hardly a million miles from Bosnia (like about 10 kms). They married and had two sons. At a certain point, the aunt worked up at the airport, during the 1970s or 1980s when tourism started to take off. One day a Spanish family turned up at the airport, and their luggage had gone missing. Being the hospitable sort (a Balkan trait), the aunt invited the family to stay at their flat until their luggage turned up and they were able to continue their travels. The two families became friends.

In 1991, when the war started, the two boys were called up. I am not sure for which army. Probably the Croatian one. With a Slovenian mother and a Bosnian father. Nuff said. The family got the two boys out to Spain and they have settled there and married Spanish women. The father died soon afterwards - effectively of a broken heart, according to my informant. The aunt lives on, dividing her time between Ljubljana, the city of her birth in the country of her now citizenship, Spain to see her sons and grandchildren, and more recently Dubrovnik. A multinational existence you might say.

But the poigancy of the story lay in the fact that there is no similar mechanism to the Yugoslav federal army to create cross-border love in this part of the world now. The fact that the army is gone is probably a good thing. But the mechanisms for interconnection remain important. The EU is an incredibly important political force in that part of the world, and the prospect of EU membership for states like Croatia and Macedonia in the medium term, and perhaps Serbia/Montenegro (together or separately), Albania and Bosnia in the longer term. TheEU operates as such a broadbased mechanism for interconnection, not least because of the political conditionality which applies to those who seek membership, including rules on regional stabilisation which foster cooperation amongst the formerly warring states. The funny thing about the report on mobility within the European Union reveals that love remains the most important reason why people migrate within the EU. Presumably the same mechanism of cohesion could apply in the event that all of the states referred to here become members of the European Union. In that event, we could be back to the same scenario envisaged by Tito so many years ago.

But I can't finish this post without also linking back to that form of interconnection through which Reidski and Jane met and fell in love. I wonder what harmony it could foster in the former Yugoslavia as well :-)


Blogger Just Jane said...

Thank you for that story. It really is very touching.

And he may be a very arguementative sod, but I can't thank blogging highly enough for bringing us together.

Saturday, April 01, 2006  
Blogger BondBloke said...

Jane I am not sure if BW will be responding as she is of on one of jaunts - again - this week. Yes a very touching story indeed. So he's a bit like me then, arguementative! I know what you mean though, BW and I met online so we understand how it happens, beleive me it can only get better...

Saturday, April 01, 2006  
Blogger BondWoman said...

I will be responding, although not with a blog tonight as I am uninspired after a 12 hour journey. FYI am in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I have a nice view. I will try to blog it.

Saturday, April 01, 2006  

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