Saturday, March 21, 2009

Тиха вода брег рони

"As a future NATO member and as a country that is very close to EU membership, Croatia will give full support to its neighbours"

Ivo Sanader, Croatian Prime Minister

Last week, in a rather brief statement, Croatia's Prime Minister effectively pledged to support Serbia's bid to join the European Union and other European institutions. Given the bitter and turbulent relationship between Croatia and Serbia over the past couple of decades this extension of a friendly hand towards the latter was, for many, surprising. There is a lot that has been dividing the two countries: the bitter memory of the war of Croatia's independence, the mass exodus of the Serbs of the Krajina, the still outstanding suit -originally filed by Croatia in 1999 - against Serbia for genocide before the International Court of Justice and the public disapproval within Serbia of Croatia's recognition of the independence of Kosovo in 2008.

And although Croatia's own EU bid has been delayed over a border dispute with Slovenia, just as Serbia's application is on hold until it arrests Ratko Mladic, indicted for genocide by the U.N. war crimes court, the gesture is of high symbolic value. As Sanader said the two countries should not "forget the past but not continue to live in it."

As an old Serbian proverb goes - Тиха вода брег рони - it is the quiet water that wears down the shore. It is the quiet, painstaking policy of normalization and reconciliation that will break down the walls that separate the peoples of former Yugoslavia.


  1. It was high time someone pulled Croatia from the black hole of nationalism.

  2. For those who emailed me on the proverb Тиха вода брег рони - it literally means 'the quiet water wears down the mountain (брег)' but брег in older usage often metaphorically refers to river banks or lake shores. Spyros