We’ll Always Have Barcelona

Editorial by Robert Čoban, Publisher

In early October, I spent three days at the W Hotel in Barcelona. On my last day in the town, just before lunch, I went to the Museum of Catalan History located in the former harbour building. Perusing through the exhibits in the dark of the museum and ponder-ing over the historical facts that speak of the centuries-long aspiration of this Spanish province for autonomy, I forgot how beautiful the day was. I covered on foot the stretch between La Barceloneta and the W Hotel surrounded by thousands of tourists and locals spending a dreamy weekend on the Mediterranean coast. The next day I saw in the news that, following the sentencing of the leaders of the Catalan secessionists, tens of thousands of protesters took it to the streets of Barcelona, the airport was blocked, numerous flights cancelled and there were injured people on both sides. Alec Wainman, an American photographer who spent much of the Civil War (1936-1939) in Barcelona and at that time, one of the Republican main-stays, crossed my mind.I remembered the finals of the European Football Championship in Kyiv in June 2012. One hundred thousand people at Queen’s concert in Maidan Square, fans of Spain and Italy, the finalists, hugging each other, shiny billboards wherever you looked and neon signs on the buildings around the square. Only one year later, Maidan was burning, other parts of Ukraine followed, several people were set alight in a besieged building in Odesa, and a real war was waging in the east of the country, which, six years later, is still smouldering as a frozen conflict. How fragile is this world that we live in where everything can be turned upside down overnight, where bitter winter can quickly oust the sunny October days and where the peace and tranquillity of Vienna, Belgrade, Zagreb, Ljubljana, Budapest or Prague can be replaced by street unrest or worse? How much can we predict future events even in parts of the world that seem completely calm and trouble-free? Did anyone imagine only a few days before Breivik did what he did in idyllic Norway or Brenton Harrison Tarrant in a mosque in faraway New Zealand that would happen? The Europe we know and love might change quite soon and we might remember Barcelona from our romantic travels, like the hero of the movie Casablanca, dreaming of the idyllic pre-war Paris. We need to remember this when we are tempted to vote for an ad-venturous and so easily seductive political option in the next election.

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