ACROSS the western Balkans, gleaming new airport terminals are being built—and named in ways that upset the neighbours. A futuristic new facility opened in March in Zagreb, the Croatian capital. It has been renamed Franjo Tudjman airport, after the father of Croatia’s independence movement. He fought a vicious war with Croatia’s Serbs who, backed by Serbia, set up a short-lived breakaway Serbian republic on a third of Croatia’s territory. In 1995 most of the Serbs in Croatia were sent packing.
Among those victims of ethnic cleansing were relatives of the world’s most famous Serb, Nikola Tesla, an inventor. Tesla was born a Serb in 1856 in what is now Croatia, but emigrated to America; both Serbs and Croats claim him. Since 2006, Belgrade airport has annoyingly (to some Croats) borne his name.
There is more. Eighteen years after the end of the Kosovo war you still cannot fly from Nikola Tesla to Adem Jashari, in whose honour Pristina airport has been named since 2010….