Feb 252016
 

People in the various parts of former Yugoslavia may have different opinions about that, but I never understood why the country exploded in such a burst of violence. Of course I saw documentaries on it and of course I read all about it in newspapers at that time, but still I wonder what exactly has turned to the better.

Slovenia has recovered very early. There was almost no war in this northernmost former province, and obviously the Serbs were not interested in holding them in the federation. Slovenia had no Serbian population and no historic ties to Serbia. After all it had just been a part of Austria for much of its history.

Serbia and Croatia were the big opponents. They share a language, but historically they had belonged to different spheres of influence for more than a thousand years.

The Serbs have first been vasalls of the Eastern Roman Empire, and when Constantinople fell, they were swallowed up by the Ottoman Turkish Empire. The first five hundred years gave them their Orthodox religion, the next five hundred left them with a strong desire for independence and self-determination, paired with a fair amount of paranoia and a glorification of their fallen heroes of the past.

Croatia on the other hand had been a part of Catholic Hungary, a state in union with Austria.

Together they had been joined in the comparatively short-lived Yugoslavian state. Still, that time had been long enough to mingle populations. In the end, after a bloody war, Serbia lost its access to the sea, the very mixed Bosnia is hardly more than a protectorate instead of a functioning state, and Croatia has recovered, mostly due to the beauty of its coastline and the resulting tourism.

Today both Slovenia and Croatia are members of the European Union, but there are still disputes about Slovenia’s access to the sea. The problem is, that Slovenia’s short coast is within a small gulf and that its connection to the sea is so narrow, that it leads through Croatian and Italian waters. I’m not even sure what the whole dispute really is about. Most likely it is about fishing rights.

In any case I find it unfortunate that Yugoslavia broke up at all. If it had not, if it had just made a transition from communism to moderate capitalism, for instance like Slovenia did, everybody would have been better off and a huge number of lives would have been spared.

Today’s pictures were taken in the small, picturesque town of Piran, one of the most beautiful places on Slovenia’s coast. I used the Panasonic 12-32, an extremely light and small collapsible lens that rarely sees the light any more.