LETTER: A tale of two cities

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The Independent Online
From Dr David A. Norris

Sir: Your correspondent Mrs S. E. Tomlinson (Letters, 10 August) writes of the tolerant atmosphere among Serbs, Croats and Moslems in Zagreb. This is largely my Zagreb experience, too. She also asks whether you can imagine this mixture being allowed in Belgrade.

The answer is yes. During the last four years, as in earlier times, during my visits to Belgrade, I always find myself in the company of a mixture of Serbs, Croats, Moslems, Macedonians, Montenegrins and Hungarians. I recall one recent occasion when all were represented at the same time, all friends and acquaintances, living and working there at the university, in publishing, in the media and the civil service. However, I must admit that I have also met the intolerant face of both Zagreb and Belgrade.

Nationalists on both sides tell you how wonderful their society is, how glorious their history and how rich their national culture by referring you to the ignorance, prejudice and other negative traits which are typical for the other side.

It seems there is a corresponding similarity, in a positive sense, among the vast majority of ordinary citizens in Zagreb and Belgrade who want to get on and rebuild their lives.

On the whole, I think most visitors would be surprised at the similarities between the two cities rather than their differences.

Yours faithfully,

David A. Norris

Department of Slavonic


University of Nottingham


10 August