Central Europeans reflect on life before the fall of the Berlin Wall
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Jurina Soltysová,
Jaro Michalco

Complete freedom it is limited by the freedom of somebody else

Bratislava, Slovak Republic, 2009
Slovak English

Jurina Soltysová,
Jaro Michalco, Students

Jurina: Some older people think that we don’t appreciate what they had to go through during communism. But I think that, that is normal. It is that way between people of different generations. Yes we can travel more and do many things that they could not do, but I don’t think that complete freedom exists. When you want to have complete freedom it is limited by the freedom of somebody else. You go certain places and there are signs that say don’t do this or that and it is a limitation of your freedom.

Jaro: Yes, I am happy that I have this freedom to go to the States, Italy, Asia, to anywhere, but in other ways I live a life that is similar to my parents and grandparents. I have certain freedoms, but other things are much the same.

Jurina: I don’t know what it felt like to live in socialism and I cannot imagine it so colorfully. The only experience that I have had, to make a comparison, is to how it was before we were a part of the Schengen zone (The European Union’s border free zone, where people can travel without showing passports). When we wanted to go to Austria just shopping, many times there were long queues of cars and we had to wait. 

Jaro: And many times the Austrians they didn’t allow you through the border or they were very slow.

Jurnia:  The world is becoming more global, but I am proud to be a Slovak. When I meet foreigners I want to tell them about my country.

Jaro: Yes, I would never say that I am from Europe, or from the European Union. I say that I am from Slovakia, from Bratislava and that I live in a very beautiful country. I correct people when they think we are still Czechoslovakia. Many people confuse us with other countries in this region, or think that we are a part of Eastern Europe rather than Central Europe. I am really proud of my country and of being Slovak.  

Jurnia: I think that it is normal because Slovakia is quite a small country. Because we are really small we do not play a major role in global politics. But, I think that this is really positive for Slovakia because we cannot get involved in some bigger conflicts. On another level we can take some individual action in problems like global warming by doing certain things like separating our garbage and not using cars so often.

Jaro: More and more people need to be involved in this. There is nothing that I can change alone. But I can try to do some small things and encourage other people to do things too. We have to all come together to make these positive changes.  

This conversation was in English
Photo by Janeil Engelstad 

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