Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Plus Ce Change....

You know the old saying (which sounds much more intelligent in French) that the more things change, the more they stay....yes, the same. I couldn't help but think of that truism (and the Thai phrase I used to love, "same, same but different.") That's how I was thinking about Belgrade during this last visit.

On the surface, yes, a great deal has changed. For God sake, there is a Zara and a Mango on main street...can't even imagine that back in 1997 when I was changing money with dodgy looking currency "traders" (quite a generous term) in back rooms and shady kiosks and trying to make sure to budget correctly before I could get to the U.S. Embassy to write a check. No money machines. No European banks. Not a tourist in sight for kilometers. Certainly nowhere to shop.

But somehow I still feel that this country is being pulled back from the European community thanks to politicians who remain focused on the political cause du jour -- in this case, Kosovo. President Kostunica and his DSS party -- not to mention Milosevic's Socialist remants are making threats about pulling back from the EU and NATO over the independence tug of war. Having lived there during part of that isolationist era, I hope that does not occur.

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