Wednesday 3 July 2013

Belarus and Ulster

It's party-time today in Minsk . . . and Pinsk, Vitebsk and Slutsk; indeed in the whole of Belarus to toast the liberation of Minsk from the Wehrmacht in 1944.  In my 1921 vintage Cassell's New Atlas, only the Eastern half of the current country is shown as White Russia which is a literal translation of the local name Белару́сь.  But that's only because the Allies wanted to create Poland out of the rubble of war.
I'm a European, and proud.  With my mixed genetic background and history of shifting residence it's the only political designation I really feel happy about and I can't wait for full Union so we can forget the piffling little countries and their delusions of self-importance, sovereignty and national identity. I push for an inclusive, integrated Europe in any way that seems to make a difference.  
I wrote a month ago about my project to integrate Ukraine on recognising a remarkable geographic similarity between that country and the island of Ireland.  As Ukraine is divided into 25 Oblasts and our Republic into 26 Counties it was easy enough to map one set of data to the other.  I am delighted to note that the Republic of Belarus is divided into 6 administrative regions which gives it a 1:1 match with the six historic counties of Northern Ireland.  I don't even need to tip one of the participants in this happy jumelage (I slip into French here as the language of diplomacy) as I was forced to do with Ukraine and the Republic.  The map to the left shows who partners with whom - I have spoken.  Perhaps, as a first step, "we" could twin Derry with Minsk  - Derry City Council please note.

I feel sure that recognition of the potential for amicable relations and opening channels of cultural exchange with people from the other side of the continent will emphasize how little we differ on either side of The Border.  Accordingly this artificial line wriggling across the island will fade away and we'll all eat bacon and cabbage together.  Meanwhile, exporting some tasty things from Ireland across the continent to Belarus and Ukraine (we'll leave Russia to the Brits) will create such good feeling that they will recognise how much they too have in common. At least товариш/таварыш we neither of us feed cheese-strings and billy-roll to our діти/дзеціAn Bord Bia please note that you can do better than pushing porridge, scones, butter and marmalade: try a more typically Irish  porridge, scones, butter and plum jam. Seville can promote its own fruit.  And I'm sure an Ulster Fry will go down a treat with both our Eastern partners.

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