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Copyright © by Alan Grant
Gusle player in Kalemegdan

No other city engenders so many conflicting images for the peoples who once lived in socialist Yugoslavia. For some, the former federal capital is the heart of evil, the centre of Serbian hegemonism. For others, it represents Serbia's most cosmopolitan and tolerant face, where opposition against the Milosevic regime was strongest. Many people who are intensely critical of Serbia's role in the Yugoslav wars still find nice words about Belgrade and its inhabitants. Others think of the city in nostalgic terms, as a symbol of the old Yugoslavia's brotherhood and unity, when "there was less politics and people lived better". For still others, it is one of South East Europe's leading cultural centres, with a vibrant music and arts scene, good night life and a unique charm residing in the comfortable shabbiness of its turn-of-the-century buildings.

February 2007

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