Autumn has come to Zagreb. The August heat was washed out yesterday in an unusually long downpour. Today the long sleeves are out.
The Main Square is busy, taken over by a local produce fair. The white tents hold typical Croatian goodies; the jams, I am told, are the hot ticket items; the lavender is overpriced.
There’s music playing over the loudspeaker, and in a spot not taken over by the fair, a couple, surrounded by a group in blue, dance with banners – NE HVALA, No Thank You, it says. Above it the EU sign is crossed off in a bold red.
Anti-EU protests. This is the second one I’ve stumbled into this week.
I love their Tees. They are in the EU blue, with the EU stars, but instead of EU, they say NE. No.
Its a small crowd, but larger than the last one. No one is paying much attention though. The press is present, snapping photos for tomorrow’s deadline. I pull out my phone too when I spot a familiar face. He is holding a sign almost as big as him. London Bridge is Falling Down, EU is Falling Down. It doesn’t necessarily make sense, but it gets the point across.
I go say my hellos and ask a few questions.
It’s a small protest, I say. He says, I can’t believe people are so apathetic. They refuse to participate but tomorrow they will be the first to complain.
Why not join the EU? We’ve already been in one bad union (A sign in the background equates EU to YU – Yugoslavia). We had a very small voice there, here it will be even smaller. He puts down statistics, votes the bigger countries get Vs Croatia. His point is clear – 8/10 times Croatia will have to toe the line.
Why all the music? We can’t be angry or violent. It’s takes very little to get dismissed as Fascists, so we have music, and banners, and tees for sale.
I wish him luck. He picks up his banner and heads back to the group. The referendum is close, there’s no time to waste, he says.