This Valentine's Day, I was in Belgrade's Delta City Mall watching dressed up couples cooing at each other in the food court next to McDonalds. Then we tooka few days off to visit my husband's family in Croatia and now it seems 800 youth are breaking various Belgrade McDonald's' windows.
Watching events via TV and Internet while temporarily outside the country, I begin to wonder if our Serbia dreams will have to be delayed. What does recalling ambassadors mean to the ordinary foreigner? Will I need to get a Visa someday soon to visit my own home in Sombor? Am I risking being turned away at the border someday soon because I bear a US passport?
The situation makes me think of the other foreign-born spouses of Serbs who want to return to their homeland. There are plenty of us, I know because many of them email me privately. I also consider the many young adult Serbs - often aged 22-30 - who were primarly raised and educated outside Serbia, who have been strongly considering moving back to their parent's homeland. There are thousands of them, including my own step-children. I know because many of them email me as well, asking for relocation or employment advice. (I'm sorry I'm not much help as I do not have the connections or knowledge yet to be useful.)
And then I think of my own husband, whose hopes were raised about the future of his country so much that he wanted to buy that flat in Belgrade this month... and now he exclaims "Oh God it will take another decade for the Serbia to be even half normal!"
I am not blaming any for this situation, or suggesting any kind of solution.
But then, there on the counter of my local Croatian Internet cafe are displayed a fat stack of glittering, colorful brochures on very heavy paper. They explain in glorious promotional detail, the wonderful economic benefits Croatian Expats now get if they move back home. Including no customs on your household goods or your car when you ship it over. Plus, there's more glowing copy outling for supposedly-fabulous quality of life you'll have when you move. Internet, culture, medicine, highways, etc. Not to mention the pretty pictures.
Former Croatians are being wooed back by their homeland. Expat Serbs are wondering what on earth will happen next.