A Bosnian was applying for a job.
“Weren’t you, Bosnians, too lazy?” asked the employer.
“Oh, no” said the Bosnian, “It is the Montenegrins who are lazy. We are the stupid ones.”
by Ivalyo Ditchev. I wanted to leave the quote stand alone at first … but of course, I don’t want to withhold the context. Ditchev writes:
In the Balkans, a very high level of solidarity is expected of the national in front of foreigners when questions of symbolic importance to the imagined community are approached. Under communism and the different Balkan dictatorships the act of “presenting a bad image of the country” was often considered to be a crime and could be punished by prison or reeducation camp. After the change in the 80-s the pressure on the individual was obviously diminished, but did not disappear. It could be best observed in the cases of the sacred taboos, that each Balkan national culture has imposed upon itself and that produce the linguistic rituals of belonging or not-belonging. The name “Republic of Macedonia” should not be pronounced by a real Greek, a Bulgarian should deny the existence of a Macedonian language, a Turk should never admit the occurrence of the Armenian genocide, etc.
At my workplace we had to learn this the hard way during an international seminar: when auomatically copy-pasting the country of origin as stated by the participants in the application forms onto the name badges, a Greek person was infuriated when she saw “Macedonia” written on the badge of another participant.