City on a Tight Europe

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When will Croatia fold?

On a recent trip to Zagreb, I asked a half-Croatian what she thought of her homeland’s immi­nent entry into the European Union. She had just returned from a peace­ful (and failed) protest against the open­ing of an H&M mega­s­tore on the site of a recent­ly torn down his­toric build­ing. In a com­bi­na­tion of accent­ed Lebanese Arabic and flu­ent English, she replied: “It will not hap­pen bukra.”

The Arabic word bukra means tomor­row, but it takes a local Lebanese to know that it could also mean “soon.” My half Baalbeki, half Zagrebi, all Continental friend refused to believe that the coun­try in which she was born, and which she wit­nessed emerge from the ash­es of the for­mer Yugoslavia will soon enter the third chap­ter of its incu­ba­tion as a European nation, but only on the Union’s terms.

This is a coun­try that while enjoy­ing a whop­ping 98.1% lit­er­a­cy rate (accord­ing to the Croatian Airlines in-flight mag­a­zine) also suf­fers, my young friend says, from polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic cor­rup­tion, an almost total depen­dence on for­eign imports, severe unem­ploy­ment, and a rig­or­ous high­er-edu­ca­tion sys­tem from which only 7% of all Croatians ben­e­fit.

Europe is sure to bring Croatians a grudg­ing accep­tance of Bosnian War’s final score (and salt into the open wounds of a nation that still demands that war crim­i­nals be brought to jus­tice), a Starbucksization of Zagreb’s Bohemian cafe land­scape (the cap­i­tal has, count them, zero for­eign fran­chis­es enjoy­ing wide-spread hege­mo­ny) and a total dis­so­lu­tion of its already frag­ile bor­ders between moder­ni­ty and his­to­ry. The coun­try now walks a tightrope through mod­ern his­to­ry, with the safe­ty net slow­ly being pulled away.

Ćao Zagreb. It was good know­ing you.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

SOOLY July 4, 2011 at 11:04 am

I love the photo + frame

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