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Some impressions

from the Case Study Trip

20.2.99 - 5.3.99

in "Former Yugoslavia"        

by Roman Krais

How to get a two entrance visa for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia? I never had to apply for a visa in advance at a consulate before. The consulate told me that it was not possible to get a two entrance visa - well, in Bonn they gave me a two entrance visa, but I had to pay (nevertheless Novi Sad had an agreement that it should be for free). Markus didn't get a visa in Frankfurt at all, but he got one in Munich for free. Frank had to pay for his visa in Munich. In Berlin, Katrin got a single entrance visa only. I wondered. The second surprise was the Slowenian boarder. The Slowenian officers had a short look at the passport only, they spoke German and wished us a pleasent journey - that was not really a boarder as I had expected.

I was astonished that Ljubljana was so similar to a western European city: the traffic, the architecture, the shops, the number of students with a car and even the wheather was the same as in Aachen: foggy and raining. Everything was perfectly organised (they even did wake us up in the morning) and I felt like at home.

Unfortunately only 10 participants continued the CST in Zagreb. New money in the purse, new organisers, new names again. I saw a lot of uniformed persons in Zagreb and flags and other national symbols all over the nice city where still the influnce of the Donau-monarchy is obvious.  The Zagreb museum we visited was in a absolute perfect condition. It seemed to me that Zagreb is presenting itself to the public from its best side. The lectures in Zagreb were great. A critical jounalist and an official of the Ministery of Foreign Affairs had lectures on the topic of (mainly) press freedom in Croatia. I wondered, but the facts they based their lectures on were the same: The quality of journalists is not good enough, there are problems with the distribution of media and there are problems with the treatment of journalists. Of course both sides mentioned different reasons and solutions (the journalist demanded a private TV to have a competitor to the state TV whereas the official stressed that democracy in Croatia is very young, that the war did end only a short time ago and that Croatia needs of course some time for the developement of a really good system) - but talking about the same facts at least is a good starting point for solving problems.

While passing Slawonia on the way to Beograd then we saw some destroyed villages, many new houses and many fields which are not in use because of mines. There was no war in Slowenia, in Serbia and in Macedonia, but there was war in Croatia. I could understand that people in Croatia did seem to be more nationally conscious.

Crossing the boarder to Yugoslawia then was like in a bad movie: After the end of negotiations in Rambouillet and after some phone calls to some embassies and ministeries we participants of NATO states decided to enter Yugoslawia in spite of the conflict between NATO and Yugoslawia. I wondered, that noone from Zagreb was going to cross the boarder and I wondered that noone from Beograd came to Ljubljana or Zagreb. This boarder was really a boarder. The people from Zagreb dropped us out of the bus behind the croatian boarder station when it was already dark. Then 10 participants crossed the border walking on the highway where there was no traffic at all. Luckily passing the Yugoslave customs did not cause any problems. On the other side three cars from Beogras were waiting for us..

Beograd was different then. It was more like a metropolis - crowded streets at 10 pm, huge roads, the architecture, we were lodged -"ethinical clean" sorted into German, Polish, Dutch, Cypriot rooms - in a hotel right in the center, everything was more relaxed, the program did start normaly one hour later and the problems of students were different: Because of the new University Law students in Serbia have to fight for so many rights wich are accepted as basic rights by everyone at my home. We met severla of these "fighting" students. Sometimes I wondered where they take the energy from to resist for such a long time against the omnipotent system. They are fighting for the following generations of students rather than for themselves. They do not profit from there protest themselves but they suffer somehow because of the protest and they do it nevertheless. I was impressed by the idealism
of these people.

Macedonia (of course I mean the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia) was ful of surprise: 20 people waiting for our arrival for 4 hours in the middle of the night - incredible. Taking a taxi did cost ~1DM - incredible. Macedonia just recognized Taiwan - incredible. The program started sometimes 2 hours later - incredible. I wondered about the rather huge numbers of mosques and about the great hospitality. I liked staying with members of AEGEE which implicated many interesting converstations about the daily live. I felt a little bit to be in a different culture and I liked it. The discussion about minorities set me thinking. First of all there were no students of a minority present. Then there were many prejudices but few fact/numbers. The arguments were difficult to   discuss and often emotional: "The Albanians are eating Macedonian bread", "The Albanians have so many children", " The rights for minorities in Macedonia are the best in the world", "Albanians are primitive", "Albanians with bad marks get a place at the university while a Macedonian
with the better marks is not allowed to study". Yasas remark, that citizenship in modern states is fixed to the citizen living in that country was by mistake interpreted as calling Macedonians nationalists. I felt somehow afraid when I listened to the discussion. Of course,
Albanians are different but why do they get only the negative attributes
primitiv, lazy, crimina? There is no need to find out whether the Albanians (who are of course Macedonians) are better or worse than the "Macedonians". They are different - some things are better some are worse. Speaking about ethinc groups in general, ranking them on a line from very good to very bad is the best way to produce struggel between ethinc groups. I hope this will not happen in Macedonia!

"Loosing" a part of the country seems to be out of discussion in the Balkans. This is very different in other parts of Europe. Not many people really want back the parts of former Germany which are now belonging to Poland or Russia. And I wouldn't mind if Bavaria was getting independent within the framework of the EU - so what? I went home without a solution but with many questions and with many fantastic impressions of discussions and conversations with great people.

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