Go Back   English Forum Switzerland > Off-Topic > Off-Topic > International affairs/politics
View Poll Results: What would you personally prefer to happen?
I want the UK to stay in an ever-closer union 49 23.11%
I want the UK to stay in a loosely connected EU 68 32.08%
I want the UK out because the EU is bad for the UK 22 10.38%
I want the UK out because the EU is a bad thing 23 10.85%
I want the UK out because this would be good for the rest of us 17 8.02%
I don't really care 33 15.57%
Voters: 212. You may not vote on this poll

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #3541  
Old 02.07.2016, 15:04
marton's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Zürich
Posts: 7,516
Groaned at 164 Times in 139 Posts
Thanked 8,527 Times in 4,670 Posts
marton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Quote:
View Post
And so what milions were killed or wounded? In war terms, that's only a number. Who remembers today of victims? Nobody. As Stalin famously said "People can be born, but land can not"

We are very naive to think wars can be stopped.

Yugoslavia was an example of EU, it was a mini-EU, the same system just like this bureaucratic EU. The war while seemed internal, it was among different nations of different language, religion and culture so it's exactly same as the EU.

Yugoslavia broke apart when money ran out, Slovenia saw Serbs printing money like crazy and knew the economy will collapse. Why I find it the same now with the Draghi keeping the EUR press hot and the British not wanting to support failing economies like Greece and Spain?
"Yugoslavia broke apart when money ran out" The basic issue was that Tito died and then there was no strong man available to hold the country together.
After that it was only a matter of time.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank marton for this useful post:
  #3542  
Old 02.07.2016, 15:27
Banned
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: geneve
Posts: 737
Groaned at 328 Times in 142 Posts
Thanked 1,374 Times in 546 Posts
idefix has earned the respect of manyidefix has earned the respect of manyidefix has earned the respect of many
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Quote:
View Post
"Yugoslavia broke apart when money ran out" The basic issue was that Tito died and then there was no strong man available to hold the country together.
After that it was only a matter of time.
Tito died in 1980. Trouble started in 1990, whole 10 years later.

How did the breakup happened?

First, Beobanka was lending money to businesses like there was no tomorrow. The CEO of Beobanka was.....Slobodan Milosevic. Maybe you've heard of him .

Beobanka invested heavily in Agrokomerc, which was the greatest financial scam that happened in the last century (something like Enron).

When Slovenians found out that the Agrokomerc scandal would bring down the entire economy, they wanted out. Slovenia was much more developed and was funding the other poorer regions like Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia. Belgrade was printing the common currency like crazy so Slovenians couldn't just sit back and watch going down the drain together. Finally, they thought they'll be better of independent and they didn't want to pay anybody elses bills. (sounds familiar? )

After that you know that Serbia wasn't letting the free will of people expressed on independance referendum in Slovenia to become true. (Again... does this sound familiar?!

History repeats itself
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank idefix for this useful post:
This user groans at idefix for this post:
  #3543  
Old 02.07.2016, 16:36
marton's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Zürich
Posts: 7,516
Groaned at 164 Times in 139 Posts
Thanked 8,527 Times in 4,670 Posts
marton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Many thousands marching in UK for "Bremain"; bunch of nutters - the train has left the station.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank marton for this useful post:
  #3544  
Old 02.07.2016, 18:29
marton's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Zürich
Posts: 7,516
Groaned at 164 Times in 139 Posts
Thanked 8,527 Times in 4,670 Posts
marton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Quote:
View Post
Tito died in 1980. Trouble started in 1990, whole 10 years later.

How did the breakup happened?

First, Beobanka was lending money to businesses like there was no tomorrow. The CEO of Beobanka was.....Slobodan Milosevic. Maybe you've heard of him .

Beobanka invested heavily in Agrokomerc, which was the greatest financial scam that happened in the last century (something like Enron).

When Slovenians found out that the Agrokomerc scandal would bring down the entire economy, they wanted out. Slovenia was much more developed and was funding the other poorer regions like Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia. Belgrade was printing the common currency like crazy so Slovenians couldn't just sit back and watch going down the drain together. Finally, they thought they'll be better of independent and they didn't want to pay anybody elses bills. (sounds familiar? )

After that you know that Serbia wasn't letting the free will of people expressed on independance referendum in Slovenia to become true. (Again... does this sound familiar?!

History repeats itself
"Tito died in 1980. Trouble started in 1990, whole 10 years later. "
However the fact remains that if Tito had been replaced with another strong leader then Yugoslavia would still be one country.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank marton for this useful post:
  #3545  
Old 02.07.2016, 18:40
Banned
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: geneve
Posts: 737
Groaned at 328 Times in 142 Posts
Thanked 1,374 Times in 546 Posts
idefix has earned the respect of manyidefix has earned the respect of manyidefix has earned the respect of many
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Quote:
View Post
"Tito died in 1980. Trouble started in 1990, whole 10 years later. "
However the fact remains that if Tito had been replaced with another strong leader then Yugoslavia would still be one country.
No, Tito or no Tito Yugoslavia would have never survived.

Yugoslavia was getting a lot of money for its "planned economy" that dissappeared once the Berlin Wall was gone. As a tampon zone, tito was getting money from the west and the east. Non aligned movement and all of that.

But as Maggie once said "communism works until you have other people's money to spend" it happened exactly that, once money was an issue everybody wanted to skip the bill. If Tito was alive in 1990 I imagine him going the Saddam way.

It's all down to money and nothing else. Stop those subventions for the French farmers and you'll see what happens next
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank idefix for this useful post:
  #3546  
Old 02.07.2016, 18:49
curley's Avatar
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Winterthur
Posts: 567
Groaned at 3 Times in 3 Posts
Thanked 579 Times in 329 Posts
curley has an excellent reputationcurley has an excellent reputationcurley has an excellent reputationcurley has an excellent reputation
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Quote:
View Post
"Tito died in 1980. Trouble started in 1990, whole 10 years later. "
However the fact remains that if Tito had been replaced with another strong leader then Yugoslavia would still be one country.
True, yet I don't think I'd plead in favour of another one like him. It looked good from the outside and people went on holidays there ..... yet I went to school with Jugoslavs who's parents sent them out of the country to grow up in our international school .....
Reply With Quote
  #3547  
Old 02.07.2016, 21:49
marton's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Zürich
Posts: 7,516
Groaned at 164 Times in 139 Posts
Thanked 8,527 Times in 4,670 Posts
marton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Quote:
View Post
True, yet I don't think I'd plead in favour of another one like him. It looked good from the outside and people went on holidays there ..... yet I went to school with Jugoslavs who's parents sent them out of the country to grow up in our international school .....
Indeed

But how many Yugoslavs died from inter tribe violence during his tenure?

And how many thousands later?
Reply With Quote
  #3548  
Old 02.07.2016, 22:05
Banned
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: geneve
Posts: 737
Groaned at 328 Times in 142 Posts
Thanked 1,374 Times in 546 Posts
idefix has earned the respect of manyidefix has earned the respect of manyidefix has earned the respect of many
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Quote:
View Post
Indeed

But how many Yugoslavs died from inter tribe violence during his tenure?

And how many thousands later?
Thousands were killed and imprisoned for doubting the socialist regime. You could end up in jail if your neighbour heard you tuning in "Radio Free Europe".

Tito stopped the violence by enforcing his own.
Reply With Quote
This user would like to thank idefix for this useful post:
  #3549  
Old 02.07.2016, 23:12
marton's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Zürich
Posts: 7,516
Groaned at 164 Times in 139 Posts
Thanked 8,527 Times in 4,670 Posts
marton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Quote:
View Post
Thousands were killed and imprisoned for doubting the socialist regime. You could end up in jail if your neighbour heard you tuning in "Radio Free Europe".

Tito stopped the violence by enforcing his own.
And how many died after 1990 in the internal Yugoslav wars? 150,00? Plus another 150,000 with war wounds?
Reply With Quote
  #3550  
Old 02.07.2016, 23:40
miniMia's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: romandie
Posts: 8,846
Groaned at 85 Times in 76 Posts
Thanked 7,389 Times in 3,727 Posts
miniMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond reputeminiMia has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Quote:
View Post
Not at all- but it was an 'internal' war- but yes, reminds us how important it is to work together.

Richdog, it was Churchill who talked about the ideal of a United States of Europe.

Why couldn't work in Europe? Arizona is so different to New England, Colorado vastly different to Texas, California bears no ressemblance to Maine.
sorry but the difference between Sweden and Greece is galaxies away compared to Arizona and Maine.
Reply With Quote
  #3551  
Old 03.07.2016, 00:10
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: CH
Posts: 5,101
Groaned at 188 Times in 147 Posts
Thanked 6,059 Times in 3,274 Posts
greenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Guys, let's not fool ourselves, the Southern parts of Europe - Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece (to a certain extent), benefited a great deal from the EU deals.
But, in the end, I think we all like it happened that way.
Now, in all fairness, I ask you to answer if it is right to blame the Eastern European parts if they want to see the same kind of development.
Please, ignore your opinions according to which "we" 're "Untermenschen"... for a moment. Let's talk about economics here.




Edit. Protests in London. More people than our regular EFers anyway...lol
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-br...-idUSKCN0ZI0FA

Interesting times, indeed.

Last edited by greenmount; 03.07.2016 at 01:47.
Reply With Quote
  #3552  
Old 03.07.2016, 03:24
Sbrinz's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Murten - Morat
Posts: 10,959
Groaned at 542 Times in 342 Posts
Thanked 10,565 Times in 5,405 Posts
Sbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

More bad news!

The EU are stating that Britain must first leave the EU before trade negotiations can begin. Negotiating will begin as a third country, AFTER Brexit.

At the EU summit this week the 27 government leaders - without the UK - agreed Brexit "divorce" talks should begin and end before any talks on a new settlement for the UK, Chris Morris says.
Brussels sources told our correspondent there was a real determination among the leaders not to mix the two.
The statement from the 27 said they wanted the UK to be "a close partner of the EU". But they also spoke of an agreement to be "concluded with the UK as a third country".
The phrase "third country" means the UK post-Brexit.
Outside the EU, the UK would trade with the bloc under World Trade Organization rules, pending a possible new deal on free trade.
WTO conditions would mean trade tariffs and non-tariff barriers, as the UK would no longer be in the EU single market.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-...endum-36682735
Reply With Quote
  #3553  
Old 03.07.2016, 06:16
marton's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Zürich
Posts: 7,516
Groaned at 164 Times in 139 Posts
Thanked 8,527 Times in 4,670 Posts
marton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Quote:
View Post
More bad news!

The EU are stating that Britain must first leave the EU before trade negotiations can begin. Negotiating will begin as a third country, AFTER Brexit.

At the EU summit this week the 27 government leaders - without the UK - agreed Brexit "divorce" talks should begin and end before any talks on a new settlement for the UK, Chris Morris says.
Brussels sources told our correspondent there was a real determination among the leaders not to mix the two.
The statement from the 27 said they wanted the UK to be "a close partner of the EU". But they also spoke of an agreement to be "concluded with the UK as a third country".
The phrase "third country" means the UK post-Brexit.
Outside the EU, the UK would trade with the bloc under World Trade Organization rules, pending a possible new deal on free trade.
WTO conditions would mean trade tariffs and non-tariff barriers, as the UK would no longer be in the EU single market.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-...endum-36682735
But no surprise
Reply With Quote
  #3554  
Old 03.07.2016, 10:33
Sbrinz's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Murten - Morat
Posts: 10,959
Groaned at 542 Times in 342 Posts
Thanked 10,565 Times in 5,405 Posts
Sbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond reputeSbrinz has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Cameron needs to immediately apply for Britain to become a Union Territory of the Republic of India.

Whilst historically speaking it seems only right and proper to give India a chance to rule Britain for a few hundred years - it actually makes a lot of sense for the British too!

Worried about jobs? India’s economy is growing 4x faster than Europe’s and will overtake the entire EU’s sometime in the 2030s - becoming twice the size of the EU economy by 2050.

In economic terms alone every young Brit should wish to replace their garish red EU passport with a classy blue Indian one ASAP.

Worried about the future of the NHS? India already provides nearly as many Doctors to the NHS as the EU does - and that doesn’t even include those of Indian origin, born or educated, in Britain. 25,055 Indian v 30,082 EU.

Worried about diversity? With over 100 different languages spoken everyday and adherents of every religion - even Britain’s favourite materialist consumption - there truly is something for everyone here!

Worried about being understood? English is one of India's two official languages - which will be a huge relief for all those have struggled to communicate with their continental neighbours for all these years.

Worried about not being part of something bigger? India has more than twice the population of the EU. Half of which are under 35, so the bonus is no more worries about an ageing population!

Worried about where to go on holiday? The Himalayas are nearly three times the height of the Alps and thousands of miles longer - there are more sandy beaches along India’s coastline than all the Costas you can dream of - and India has tropical rainforests and even a desert too! Plenty of visa free inter-railing adventures as well on the world’s largest railway network.

Worried about not being ruled by an unlected bureaucracy in a far away land? We’ve got that covered as well! Nowhere on the planet has perfected the shuffling of paper and writing of rules better than New Delhi - what’s more India’s civil servants salaries are more than 10x lower than Brussels. Talk about getting more for less!

British MPs, the whole of Whitehall and even the Royal Family (subject to the return of the Kohinor) can all be pensioned off at the fast expanding and internationally renowned Best Exotic Marigold Hotel chain in Jaipur.

Which would free up the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and much of Central London to become a permanent Bollywood film set. With more viewers than Hollywood this is sure to help keep London’s tourist economy going - which within a decade or two will be mostly Indians in any case.

Embrace the 21st Century. Swap Brussels for Delhi. Say Goodbye to Little Europe and Namaste to Incredible India!

Yours in waiting,
An Immigrant of British Origin,
New Delhi, India
Reply With Quote
The following 5 users would like to thank Sbrinz for this useful post:
  #3555  
Old 03.07.2016, 11:06
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Neuchatel
Posts: 19,355
Groaned at 368 Times in 275 Posts
Thanked 22,366 Times in 10,062 Posts
Odile has a reputation beyond reputeOdile has a reputation beyond reputeOdile has a reputation beyond reputeOdile has a reputation beyond reputeOdile has a reputation beyond reputeOdile has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

And here a great article about a young man from Prague- about his first visit beyond the border when he was 10, about their fears from Russia and about what it now feels like to be a second class European.

http://www.theatlantic.com/internati...m_source=atltw
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank Odile for this useful post:
  #3556  
Old 03.07.2016, 11:40
Forum Veteran
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Zürich
Posts: 784
Groaned at 87 Times in 56 Posts
Thanked 1,206 Times in 549 Posts
TobiasM has a reputation beyond reputeTobiasM has a reputation beyond reputeTobiasM has a reputation beyond reputeTobiasM has a reputation beyond reputeTobiasM has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Quote:
View Post
Tito died in 1980. Trouble started in 1990, whole 10 years later.

How did the breakup happened?

First, Beobanka was lending money to businesses like there was no tomorrow. The CEO of Beobanka was.....Slobodan Milosevic. Maybe you've heard of him .

Beobanka invested heavily in Agrokomerc, which was the greatest financial scam that happened in the last century (something like Enron).

When Slovenians found out that the Agrokomerc scandal would bring down the entire economy, they wanted out. Slovenia was much more developed and was funding the other poorer regions like Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia. Belgrade was printing the common currency like crazy so Slovenians couldn't just sit back and watch going down the drain together. Finally, they thought they'll be better of independent and they didn't want to pay anybody elses bills. (sounds familiar? )

After that you know that Serbia wasn't letting the free will of people expressed on independance referendum in Slovenia to become true. (Again... does this sound familiar?!

History repeats itself
This is nothing similar to the break up of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was split along ethnic lines and the country was forcefully created under dictatorship into a Soviet style union. Not sure what your point is?
Reply With Quote
The following 3 users would like to thank TobiasM for this useful post:
  #3557  
Old 03.07.2016, 11:50
marton's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Zürich
Posts: 7,516
Groaned at 164 Times in 139 Posts
Thanked 8,527 Times in 4,670 Posts
marton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Quote:
View Post
This is nothing similar to the break up of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was split along ethnic lines and the country was forcefully created under dictatorship into a Soviet style union. Not sure what your point is?
"Yugoslavia was split along ethnic lines " Ethnic/religious; mainly there were there Muslims, Orthodox Catholics and Roman Catholics.
Reply With Quote
  #3558  
Old 03.07.2016, 11:54
Banned
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: geneve
Posts: 737
Groaned at 328 Times in 142 Posts
Thanked 1,374 Times in 546 Posts
idefix has earned the respect of manyidefix has earned the respect of manyidefix has earned the respect of many
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Quote:
View Post
This is nothing similar to the break up of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was split along ethnic lines and the country was forcefully created under dictatorship into a Soviet style union. Not sure what your point is?
Obviously you were 3 and a half when Yugoslavia broke apart, so you don't know much about it, don't you?
Reply With Quote
  #3559  
Old 03.07.2016, 12:09
marton's Avatar
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Zürich
Posts: 7,516
Groaned at 164 Times in 139 Posts
Thanked 8,527 Times in 4,670 Posts
marton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond reputemarton has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Bit late now but worth reading;
A lecture by a law professor has become an unlikely internet hit after he used it to attack what he called the Leave Campaign’s “industrial scale dishonesty”.

Michael Dougan, professor of European Law at Liverpool University, said watching the Leave campaign had been: “Probably the equivalent of an evolutionary biologist listening to a bunch of creationists tell the public creation theory is right and evolution is completely wrong.”

Source
Reply With Quote
The following 2 users would like to thank marton for this useful post:
  #3560  
Old 03.07.2016, 12:17
Forum Legend
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: CH
Posts: 5,101
Groaned at 188 Times in 147 Posts
Thanked 6,059 Times in 3,274 Posts
greenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond reputegreenmount has a reputation beyond repute
Re: The Brexit referendum thread: potential consequences for GB, EU and the Brits in

Quote:
View Post
And here a great article about a young man from Prague- about his first visit beyond the border when he was 10, about their fears from Russia and about what it now feels like to be a second class European.

http://www.theatlantic.com/internati...m_source=atltw
Thank you for this article, Odile. I think I agree with the author, it's hard not to take it personally.

Quote:
A 'Second-Class' European in a Post-Brexit World

For those of us who grew up behind the Iron Curtain with dreams of owning real jeans, the U.K.’s vote feels like a personal rejection.


A happy trio of East German refugees shout "Freedom, Freedom" as their train leaves a railway station in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1989.

In 1990, my family drove the 125 miles from a newly post-communist Prague to the Czechoslovak border with Austria. Crippling travel restrictions had recently been lifted, and we were going to visit the West on vacation for the very first time. I was 10 years old and, though the line of cars at the border was several miles deep, and though it was sweltering in the back of our yellow Škoda, I spent the trip in a state of awe at our good fortune.

By the time I’d finished fourth grade, I’d heard stories of those who'd been killed while attempting to leave the prison that the Eastern Bloc was; the last to lose his life at the Czechoslovak border had in fact been a child, a boy slightly younger than myself, when his family was trying to escape East Germany. But then, seemingly overnight, the old restrictive system had begun to disintegrate. In 1989, after Hungary allowed a group of East Germans to cross into Austria, which was part of the West, many of their compatriots hoped to follow suit. Suddenly, tens of thousands of East German refugees flooded into Prague, sleeping in makeshift tents in its historic center, right near our home, before they continued on their journey.


To be permitted to cross a national border: This was the stuff of dreams.


Wearing our best clothes to make a good impression on this first trip, we practiced polite German phrases and conversation starters on each other in the car, getting ready for our grand audience with the West. But when we were finally let across, the first places we entered on the Austrian side had posted notices that read, in glaring capital letters: CZECHS, DO NOT STEAL HERE!

For the rest of the trip, we tried to keep our voices down in public, so no one could hear us speaking a Slavic language, and hoped that no one would notice our Czech license plates. As we drove deeper into Western Europe, the sense of longing grew. Surely we’d meet someone, somewhere, who would not be able to tell that we were only Czechs?

Of course, we were used to feeling second class. This was built into our upbringing and culture. We Czechs, like other Central Europeans, had lived for decades with a feeling of failure for not having been able to free ourselves from Soviet dominion, along with its absurd, backward, and cruel politics.

Even before communism ended, most of my friends and I suspected that shelves in stores were not meant to be empty, that toilet paper was not meant to be scarce, and that there were more enjoyable ways for an eight-year-old to spend an afternoon than standing guard in a tiny uniform in front of a pro-Soviet monument. (This was one of my duties as a member of the Young Pioneers.) Our parents, despite strict censorship, got their hands on samizdat copies of Orwell novels. None of us had any doubt that the Europe we knew then was on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.

My friends had a slang word for cool: If something was top-notch awesome, it was “British.”
The West, we sensed, was a better place: polished, rich, and free. My friends even had a slang word for cool: If something was top-notch awesome, it was “British.” Of course, we knew to say this only quietly, because any complimentary talk about the West could be overheard by our schoolteachers and get our parents in trouble. We were the West’s biggest fans and groupies, like players who hadn’t made it onto the team but kept cheering for it in the stands. Or like players sold to another team against their will because they did not matter enough.


Václav Havel became president in 1989, and the last Soviet soldier left Czechoslovakia in 1991. Countries in my region were eager to join NATO and the European Union, and spent most of the 1990s making reforms and pleading with the West to let us in. Fortunately for those who wanted to look toward Europe, Russia, preoccupied with its own economic implosion, was busy. The Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004. But the familiar long border lines lasted well into my 20s, with customs officers meticulously checking whether Czechs—and Hungarians, Slovaks, and Poles—headed for an Italian beach had enough money on them or whether they were the real owners of their cars, since the EU Schengen Area that guaranteed free movement of persons was not open to us until 2007.

There are criticisms—some unfounded, many wholly legitimate—that people in my region, just like everyone else, have of the EU today. But openness within Europe and between Europeans is the most valuable thing about our continent. It allowed us to fully engage with Europe, trade, make, buy, sell, move, love, learn, and earn. And more than Germany, France, or Denmark, the U.K. was the country that had for decades given us familiar music, movies, humor, and literature, and held the greatest appeal for me and my friends. There are wonderful Scandinavian bands and Dutch DJs, but Adele, The Rolling Stones, and Paul McCartney sell out humongous arenas, still. Britain has the culture my compatriots and I, in the absence of our own regional idols and contemporary cultural giants, look up to. English is the second language we now most comfortably speak.

As a result, for those who wanted to try their luck abroad, many Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, and other neighbors felt the United Kingdom or Ireland made most sense as destinations. London offers opportunities in every imaginable field. It also allows multi-national couples a shot at success that other European capitals simply lack. I work in international development and my husband in tech: Buona fortuna to us in finding a competitive career for both in Rome.


And so it is difficult for me not to take personally the U.K.’s rejection of staying open to Europe. Polls show that the decision was largely driven by backlash against immigration, and that some of the districts with the highest support for Brexit were those that had high concentrations of Poles, Romanians, and other Eastern and Central Europeans. Laminated cards reading, “No more Polish vermin” and “Go home Polish scum” were found in Cambridgeshire after the vote, and the U.K.’s Daily Mirror just ran the alarmist headline, “Brexit to cause immigration surge as 500,000 East Europeans 'will rush in before borders close.'”

It now appears that second-class Europeans—Europeans who grew up with smuggled vinyls and dreams of owning real jeans, while hiding from informers and censors, or whose parents did—are not so welcome in the Europe we thought we’d come to share. It does not need to be printed out in capital letters to be obvious.

But many people on the streets of Prague, Bratislava, and Warsaw understand another thing, too. An inward-looking, destabilized European Union is not good for anyone except for Russia, which has never stopped seeing our region as an area to claim, and whose military and agents have been pushing closer. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and even Poland, are all worried about their long-term security. Given that for a country like mine, the last two and a half decades were the longest period of freedom in modern history, we don’t take not being invaded for granted. It is truly disheartening that it was we, and other immigrants, who U.K. voters seem to perceive as the threat to stability.

As Havel pointed out, a defining Czech characteristic is self-doubt. Some say anxiety. I feel both now more than ever. Despite my best efforts, I was not able to hide deeper in Europe at all.


Aargh, and the last phrase is brilliant. Touching and sad, but so true. Thank you, Zuzana Boehmova.

Last edited by greenmount; 03.07.2016 at 12:29.
Reply With Quote
The following 4 users would like to thank greenmount for this useful post:
Reply




Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Latest Referendum, what will be consequences for EU (C permit and B permit) holders? expat2014 Permits/visas/government 3 11.02.2014 08:59
Importing vehicles and the VAT consequences in Switzerland from France BEFO Finance/banking/taxation 6 07.08.2013 15:11
The (Available in CH) Dog Food Review Thread meloncollie Pet corner 44 08.05.2012 20:15
Common-law marriage and consequences in CH Mishto Family matters/health 9 01.10.2011 22:03
Something for the Brits: M&S in CH mark Daily life 11 15.11.2007 12:18


All times are GMT +2. The time now is 15:46.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
LinkBacks Enabled by vBSEO 3.1.0