Thursday, June 24, 2010

On names and monuments

In this post some random thought on ongoing conflicts:

In the conflict on the Macedonian name I think Greece should take some actions regarding the people who fled Greece during the civil war. It might for example offer Greek citizenship to those Macedonians who fled Greece during the civil war and people who have two parents from Greece. Just as the Hungarian citizenships these most probably would be used mainly as an entry-ticket to richer countries like Germany, but the symbolic content might do much to undercut the nationalistic fever that drives Macedonia's present politicians. And once Macedonia becomes an EU member Macedonians will have the right to settle in Greece anyway, so why not hurry up the process a few years and claim credit for it as a big gesture?

In Kosovo there is the issue of the monuments. The Serbian churches and monastries are by far the best Kosovo has to offer to tourists. The Albanian Kula's and other monuments may be interesting for historians and Albanians but the average foreign tourist will not be exited about them. But this doesn't fit right with Albanian nationalists who like to claim everything in Kosovo is Albanian. So some of them are claiming that those churches were once Roman Catholic - a religion that is considered Albanian in the Kosovo context. They may be right or wrong, but it is even less interesting than the fact that the Aya Sofia in Istanbul was once an Orthodox church. It is quite common for buildings to change religion and if we could look into the past we might well find that on the places of many churches and mosques were once devoted to pagan deities. It is the present splendor of the building that counts and those churches in Kosovo have been Orthodox for many centuries. I believe that instead the Kosovo government should embrace Kosovo's multi-ethnic past and the fact that many Albanians have at least some Serbian ancestors when they go back a couple of generations.

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