Lifestyle & Culture

Nina Avramovic Trninic: Yugoslavia is a cautionary tale for Brexit and the UK

When I wrote “Dear Brits,” I got A LOT of comments from readers.  Most of the negative comments said I did not have a right to predict how the life of an average Brit will look after Brexit since I came from a shitty country, unlike the Brits who were about to be affected by the Brexit.

But, here’s the deal.

I was born in the “Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia” that was formed during Tito’s regime after World War II. During the 1960s, Yugoslavia even sold space technology to U.S. That is how advanced our country was.

At the time I was born, not only were education and health care free, unemployment was at a level similar to the European Union right now (9 percent), jobs were well-paid and secure and on top of that employees got free apartments from their companies!

Can you imagine that?!  “You need an apartment? Here you go: Yours, free of charge!”

And they were not low level, social apartments. When we moved into ours in 1984, it was newly built, with spacious playgrounds, a lot of parking space, a nearby kindergarten, and school.

An American friend who worked with my sister for an American army newspaper said, “The only thing this apartment is missing is the sea view.”  Can you imagine living in a country where you get a college education, a job and an apartment for free? A life without debt?

I spent the first 10 years of my life in such a country. So no, Yugoslavia was not a shitty country.

What is scary is that just a decade after that, I found myself living in Graz, studying and simultaneously working three of the lowest-level jobs in order to put myself through college. A decade. That is how our “Brexit” ended.

The SFRJ was over. The component countries such as Serbia wanted out, but they had no plan. They were not prepared, they just had a few loud, charismatic, crazy politicians rooting for the separation.

Does that ring a bell?

Most of those politicians ended at the International Criminal Tribunal in Den Haag. So that is why my reaction to Brexit was negative. Because the UK did not go into it prepared. It relied too much on haphazardness.

Did you feel well informed at the time of vote? Do you feel confident in your current plan? Do you think it is enough to hope Theresa May shall negotiate good conditions for you?

Do you know the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was proposed in 2006 by Angela Merkel, but will not be complete until at least 2020? 

That is 14 years of negotiations. Do you want to wait for 14 years? Do you know where you will be in 14 years?

I want to believe that Brexit will bring a positive and happy ending for the EU and Great Britain, but unfortunately, the previous experience indicates exactly the opposite. It is like hoping a couple can divorce and separate their life and love but still do great business together.

Instead of staying in the EU and working on the shortcomings from within, the UK “divorced” the EU. Through that, a big portion of highly paid, qualified workers and employees exited the European market, leaving and giving their workplaces to the poorer EU countries.

So now Croatians, Bulgarians, Romanians and many more shall work those jobs for less money and put the standard of the whole EU economy to the new low level. That WILL influence the UK also, in a negative way. It is the butterfly effect of Brexit.

Remember, it takes only a decade to take you from a country with free college, free health care, secure jobs and free apartment to waiting tables in Austria in order to survive!

Here is how Terry Boyd, an experienced journalist and businessman who has worked around the world and now calls the Netherlands his home, sees the consequences of Brexit for an ordinary UK citizen.

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