Nr. 21: Slovenia
Slovenia is a small country squeezed in between the Balkan, the Mediterranean and the Alps. Its two million inhabitants became EU citizens on 1 May 2004 and the country has been steadily catching up with `older` EU members.
Slovenia only has a short history as an sovereign nation. It only became independent after successfully separating itself from Yugoslavia in 1991. The dismantlement of Yugoslavia followed soon after, but Slovenia managed to escape the devastating Balkan war and the profound consequences it had , and still has, for the regions involved in the conflict.
..likes living in a small country
Unlike the Hungarians, the Slovenians seem quite satisfied with the country they live in.
Jasmina (24, photo) is proud of the mountains. She likes how her country is small and `sweet`. `Nothing is every really far away`, she says, even though the size of the country is also one of the national frustrations. `In international matters, we do not have the weight of the big countries, so we have a much harder time protecting our interests on the international level.`
Jasmina is not happy about the rising prices and stagnating salaries. `Slovenians feel ambiguous about the European Union. They like the fact that they can travel much easier than ever before, but the cost of living is just getting higher and higher.` Jernej (28), after listing the beautiful natural and cultural sites in Slovenia, says that he would sometimes prefer Slovenia to be like Switzerland. Neutral, but still taking advantage of its position at the heart of Europe. `But at least, we have managed to rapidly become a stable country after our independence and a large part of that is due to NATO- and EU-membership.`, he says.
Iris (26) says that Slovenes were much looking forward to the introduction of the Euro, but they came out deceived. `I think we saw it as an achievement, but it just drove up prices even quicker than before.` Iris`s friend Iris (also 26) is not too happy about the relations Slovenia has with its neighbours: `The relation with Croatia is not too good. See, this little piece of access to the Adriatic Sea we have in the south, they would take it off us if they could. If I had any reason to still feel Yugoslavian, then the nationalism of Croatia would erase the last remaining bit of that.`
Boiana (23) likes her country, but insists that Maribor is a better place to live than Ljubljana. Dean (23) likes the mountains, the beaches, the people. `I can`t tell whether they are friendly to everybody but at least they are friendly to me. They are also open to foreigners, although people from Northern Europe may feel more welcome than people from the South-East or Turkey. Many Erasmus students find their way to Slovenia, as it is known for its pleasant studying climate. The government is very supportive to students in Slovenia.`
Gregor (24) thinks that the rapid development in Slovenia is related with the overall ambition to be perfect. `Economically speaking, we have always been the best of the worst, and the worst of the best. In the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, we were behind on the others. In Yugoslavia, we used to be ahead of the others.`
`Slovenians are good at anything they want to be good at, but their motive is not always very noble. Most of it is jealousy`, Gregor says. `We tend to play by the rules, but we are very competitive when it comes to success and very eager to show off. It`s the regular list of having a nice house, a good car and a beautiful wife. Some tend to confuse success and happiness. There have been so many changes in the last decades that people have not only left their traditions behind ? they have even forgotten what purpose those traditions ever served. Looking to the future is good, but it`d be helpful if Slovenians cared a bit more about their personal relations and their history.
photo | Link
to this article