Croatia, a Paradise wrapped in paradox.
It is always difficult to start working on a project like this. I was offered the chance to write about my country, my people and it is well-known that I can get very toxic on that topic, beause my country and my people make me mad practically all the time. Some would say, yeah, she is a hater. But no, I am not, I love my country and its people a lot, and because of this love I feel justified to write about it and them in a cynical way. Because I think things can get better only if we do not put stuff under the carpet but take it out in the open for everyone to see. This is exactly what Paul Bradbury has been doing for the last couple of years.
Croatia is a Paradox Paradise. We have it all, and we kill it all. We know everything yet cannot do anything properly. We are proud to be Croats and very many Croats make me feel ashamed. Paradox is a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true. Just like Croatia. The key words here are common sense. Many things in Croatia today are against common sense, yet somehow they are there and tolerated which leads us to Paradox No.1.
Croats are very proud of their archipelago with more than 1200 thousand of islands that is the fourth in Europe as per size after Sweden, Finland and British Isles. Croatia has the second largest indented coast in Europe after Norway, and this coast is a knockout because of its pristine beaches. Until last year the slogan of the Croatian Tourist Board was ‘The Mediterranean as it Once Was’, which was retired and replaced by ‘Croatia, Full of Life’ as of February 2015. With such a focus on tourism, it is only natural that it was decided by the current Government that Croatia would award tenders for exploration and exploitation of oil in the Adriatic. How likeable and clever is the willingness to switch beauty, comfort and security for such a high-risk relationship?How ridiculous and absurd is to go for oil with all the solar energy at hand? Who will reap the profit and who will suffer the consequences?It will not stop at that since a large international campaign SOS for Adriatic: NO Oil Drilling was officially launched by Croatian, Italian, Albanian and Montenegrin stakeholders to prevent this short-sighted and paradoxical project.
Paradox No.2 – 22 June 1941 is regarded as the beginning of Croatian anti-fascist movement which started by formation of First Sisak Partisan Detachment and organized fighting against German and Italian occupying forces. On 12 June 2015 a Nazi swastika was imprinted on the pitch of Poljud Stadium in Split and was there for all the world to see during the European qualifier between Croatia and Italy. What progress we have managed to achieve in 76 years!
To end on a paradoxical note, there is a journalist in Croatia who got fired earlier last month. Big deal, people said. Thousands of people have lost jobs in Croatia, some due to privatization, some due to recession, some due to other causes, so one guy more or less does not make a big difference. Except, that this guy was awarded the European Press Prize for excellence in journalism for his column »Vukovar: a Life-Size Monument to the Dead City«, published by Globus, Croatia, on 19 November 2013. What exactly did he do to deserve it? He called some people lice. Lice people sued the paper, they got about 20,000.00 EUR in damages from the court, 2,000.00 EUR each. Lice people are not nice people, they are Citizens’ Initiative of intellectuals who became widely known among Croatian public when they expressed their views about Gay Pride and tried to prevent its happening in 2012. The lice people said some very nasty things at the time using words such as malignant presssure of homosexuality and other hate speech which is a criminal offence in Croatia. However, since this is election year, and a turn to the far right is expected, the Board of the paper in matter decided to terminate the co-operation with the journalist who wrote about it. Freedom of speech at its best.