// sweet twentysomething ///

2013 is THE year: twenty years of independent Slovakia, twenty years of diplomatic relations between Austria and Slovakia, and twenty years since my friend Martin left Bratislava to the neighbouring Austrian small town of Hainburg to buy himself a device, that back then was still only scarcely available in his hometown: a walkman. 1993 was also the year when the English dance music duo 'The Beloved' released its insipid hit single 'Sweet Harmony', reaching top chart positions all across Europe. Though Martin claims he listened to Nirvana back then, I can't help to imagine him, happily cycling from Hainburg back to his hometown with his walkman, chanting: "Let's come together, right now, oh yeah, in sweet harmony." According to its lyrics, this song could well have been adopted as a sugar-coated sort of manifesto for Austrians and Slovaks to connect. But well, in reality it just didn't seem to spark between here and there.

Ten years later, like out of nowhere, the concept 'Centrope' appeared, defining a cross-border region spanning between the cities Bratislava, Vienna, Brno and Györ. It claims that "[g]rowing prosperity, efficient and export-oriented industries, globally networked service hubs and a highly educated workforce are among the trademarks of the Central European Region". (1) No doubt that this game is mainly in favor of powerful economic actors, especially as its web-domain, with its ending mistyped as www.centrope.at or www.centrope.net (instead of www.centrope.com), hooks you up straight with Austria's biggest bank group. Despite such powerful alliances, Centrope is still far from being established as a name for the region. But that shall change soon, at least according to the recently introduced 'Centrope Strategy 2013+', promising the region's inhabitants "gains through greater prosperity, sustainability and convenience". (2) Reading through that document, I had to think about that one song again: "Let's come together, right now, oh yeah, in sweet harmony." Sounds like
the perfect Centrope-anthem, doesn't it? And as Stadlnova is located right in the middle of Centrope, I decided to do a re-make of 'Sweet Harmony', all inspired by inspired by "The Centrope Vision" (3), which should smoothly direct the people of our fictive suburb to act accordingly to the promise of a bright future for their region. To make sure the message will be properly internalised, I propose a karaoke version of the song, requiring a sort of participatory approach. In such a manner people might even be eager to adopt a top-down concept, no matter how detached from their everyday realities, in a smooth way. The sound quality, though, is pretty beat-up, just as it happens with cassette tapes after countless playbacks in a walkman, as well as with worn out phrases from the cross-border cooperation kit.

So, who will still sing along?

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(1) http://www.centrope.com/en/centrope-region/centrope-at-a-glance Retrieved 2013-08-23

(2) http://www.centrope.com/repository/centrope/downloads/centrope_Strategy_Action_Plan_2013_en.pdf Retrieved 2013-08-23

(3) Ibid., p. 5


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