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The former Yugoslav republic of Slovenia was my next destination. Courageous little Slovenia declared independence in 1991 sparking off a 10-day war but has since enjoyed peace and a standard of living that is the highest in the former communist states in Eastern Europe.

I departed from Vienna's railway station with a great deal of excitement and anxiety. Finally I will be going to Slovenia, the republic that sparked off the Yugoslav wars of succession. I had been tempted to visit Slovenia in 1993 when I was in Venice, but wasn't able to persuade my fellow travellers to come with me, due to the wars in former Yugoslavia - this was even though Slovenia's war had ended long before that.

The train journey itself was interesting. I discussed Sun Tzu's Art of War with an Austrian engineer, and the Yugoslav wars with three Austrian Slovenes (going to Maribor on a shopping trip) and a Bosnian refugee working in Vienna and going to Celje to visit friends. The Slovenes and Bosnian were still rejoicing about the recent Croatian seizure of Western Slavonian region from the Serbs, and not surprisingly, condemned Serb leaders like Milosevic and Karadic. Mehmet, the Bosnian Muslim from Banja Luka, Bosnia's 2nd largest city, while lamenting the loss of his homeland and dispersal of his family, spent quite some time correcting my Slavic pronunciations as well as simple Slovene, Serbo-Croat (or Serb, Croatian, or Bosnian - the current official names of the languages after the breakup of the Yugoslav Federation). I was also provided an insight into Muslim life in Bosnia - or rather how unreligious some Bosnian Muslims are. They drink wine and beer, although pork was avoided for health reasons. As Mehmet explained, those are OK as long as one's heart is with Allah. Try telling an Arab or a Southeast Asian Muslim that !

Coat of arms of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Visit the Bosnia Home Page at Caltech with its links to numerous sites.

Coat of arms of the Serbs

Note the 4 C's in the middle of the coat of arms. They represent SAMO SLAGO SRBINA SPASAVA- ONLY UNITY SAVES THE SERBS ! Read the Serbian side of the story in GEOPOLITICS, and the Republika Srpska (Bosnian Serb Republic) Website

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