Did you ever think about how many versions of you exist and how many of them you can make show up in a single day? Sounds schizophrenic? Well, yes - maybe. But let me explain:
Most of the day my business "me" was in charge writing copy, setting up coupon codes, participate in business calls, discussing promotions, margins and pricings. When the last call was finished I had about half an hour to quickly get to the Bavarian State Library to hear the speaking engagement of Vladimir Drobnjak, Chief Negotiator for Accession Negotiations with the European Union and Deputy Head of State Delegation. He was - as you may guess from his impressive title - scheduled to talk about the long and winding process of Croatia's accession to the European Union. I sent, of course, the Croatian version of "me" to listen to the speech in Croatian (and German translated by our friend and great interpreter Renata Čupić) and see what is up with the political and economical future of my favorite country.
Interesting enough memories can be triggered by lots of things and one of the most powerful triggers is definitely a scent. In this case the totally distinctive smell of a huge university library. A lot of books, which went through thousands of hands, smell like nothing else - and it is always the same scent ... anyway if you are in Muenster, in Munich or in New York. The speech was held in the "Eastern" Reading Room, where you can access the huge collection of the library focussing on Eastern Europe, the Orient and Asia. And hello ... there it was - the long lost and almost forgotten student version of "me", which came in handy for the night, because that "me" once upon a time studied political science with visiting several classes about the transformation process of some Eastern European countries as well as modern history with a focus on Eastern European and Slavic history. All this stuff sneaking back into the more frequently used parts of my memory and brain fit very well to the content of the lecture.
When I had just graduated and left university with my Master degree I could not move on quickly enough to do something totally different, but honestly - now a little more than 10 years later - I sometimes miss the world of science.
Drobnjak's speaking engagement itself was a very rare opportunity to look behind the curtains of the giant, complicated and almost absurdly complex accession process, which is already going on for over five years ... with the light at the end of the tunnel in sight now.
He vividly described how a team of over 1.000 people only on the Croatian side is working on solving what seems like a million tasks, requirements, chapters and benchmarks, which all need to be reviewed and approved by the EU institutions in charge.
The good new is - it is almost done. Croatia did everything it was told to do. About 95% of all tasks are done and the final steps should be started soon including setting an accession date, signing the papers, starting the process of ratification (all 27 members of the EU need do that) and having the national referendum about the accession in Croatia.
Looking back to the last 5.5 years it seems almost incredible that Croatia got so far. The process fell into a difficult time for the EU, which had to deal with the enormous eastward expansion of the post communist years, the economical collapse of more than one member country and lot of other things. So the idea of inviting additional countries to the club became more and more unpopular and the requirements Croatia had to meet grew in the same pace.
While Vladimir Drobnjak handeled all topics with the elegant containment of an experienced diplomat, Bernd Posselt, member of the European Parliament and important ambassador for Croatia, was much more explicit about how several political battles were fought on Croatia's expense and how the membership of Crotia is NOT the interest of some of the current members and the reason for many problems Croatia had to solve on its way.
For now Croatia is close, but not there yet. The next couple of months will be some of the most in important in the history of the still young Republic of Croatia. Let's hope for a bright and postive future right here in the middle of Europe.
And by the way ... the fourth "me" for today is the writer "me" ... without that one - no blog post ;)