It seems that some people took the old adage “things are too serious not to be taken lightly”, well, too seriously. Admittedly, Slovene-Croatian border dispute is giving ample material to make fun out of, but there are funny jokes and then there are just sheer egotistic stupidities.
Operation South Shield by Dejan Steinbuch. Yes, it really does include bears (source)
An example of the former are the amazing columns in Dnevnik daily by Boris Dežulović (already featured on this blog), a Croatian journalist, currently based in Belgrade, Serbia who (almost invariably) every week sheds light on various dark corners of the joint Slovene-Croatian trauma and exposes them for what they really are: small-time provincial petty disputes fanned by enormous egos of two-bit-hustlers-turned-politicians who run the show. From time to time, although more rarely, this wry humour approach is complemented bErvin Hladnik Milharčič, a Slovenian journalist and a Dnevnik columnist as well, who just happens to be a friend of Dežulović’s. Between the two of them, there isn’t much of the last 25 years history of what once was Yugoslavia that they didn’t witness first hand, including the war which ravaged the once-common country and the prospect of which is (sometimes more seriously, sometimes less) often spoken about vis-a-vis the dispute.
On the other hand, there are plenty of mental adolescents who indulge in fantasies and what-if stories, compare sizes of both countries’ militaries and – although jokingly – play out war scenarios of one sort of another. An example of this came some weeks ago in Croatian magazine Globus, which ran an item titled Imaginary Fight On The Border. Although not totally serious, the article by Boro Krstulović and Igor Tabak played out a possible war scenario between the countries, where – naturally – Croatia came out victorious.
And only days ago Finance (Slovenian would-be WSJ) ran an item titled A Fantasy Story: How Croatia Returned To Europe by Dejan Steinbuch, former editor of Žurnal, a free weekly. Steinbuch wrote a travesty which includes top echelons of Slovenian politics as well as literally every Slovenian who – disguised as tourists – occupy Croatia during the summer. Only this time they do it for real. I imagine the story was prompted by an apparent joke by Croatian PM Jadranka Kosor, who reportedly said to Slovenian PM Borut Pahor that the only way Slovenia will lift the blockade is for Croatia to become part of Slovenia.
Both these articles have a problem – they miss their targets completely. War between Slovenia and Croatia may seem improbable. Hopefully it is. But let us not forget that there have been stand-offs between Slovene and Croatian police in the past and that after every failed round of negotiations a new round of escalations followed. And this summer every time an incident involving a Slovenian in Croatia or a Croatian in Slovenia happens it makes first pages of newspapers.
I realise both articles meant to be funny and – I may be reaching here – tried to show that conflict between the countries is absurd. But to do that in a tongue-in-cheek manner requires considerable skill. These two articles and their respective authors failed miserably in that enterprise. They just look pathetic, terribly not funny and do precious little to help the overall situation. I just wish they were available in English as well, so the world could see the amount of ineptitude one sheet of paper can hold in this part of the world.