As we drove from one part of Slovenia to another, we crossed briefly through a slice of Italy. The border is marked by a sign and several abandoned checkpoint buildings. For those not used to thinking historically, this may seem like old news – after all, the EU has been a fact for a while, and recently has been more criticized than praised. Just 70 years ago, however, Italy was running brutal concentration camps in Slovenia. This open border without occupation is both unprecedented and a great boon for the well-being of all in the region.
Meanwhile, Croatia has recently been admitted to the European Union, though it has not yet become a member of the “Schengen” customs union, as Slovenia has. Thus the crossing between the two requires a (fairly gestural) stop, which will disappear in 2015 or so, when Croatia is admitted to Schengen. While a young Croatian I spoke with is worried that EU membership will turn them into Greece, again my bias is that less nationalism is better.
Reinforcing my belief in the need to transcend nationalism are the various stories of the siege of Zadar by Serb forces in the 1991-95 war. It is strange to live in and walk these streets and imagine this beautiful seaside town without electricity or sufficient food and medical supplies, intermittently shelled.