Author Topic: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history  (Read 74129 times)

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David_Pritchard

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #15 on: August 03, 2005, 02:20:49 AM »
Ballkanic is an adjective which means that it modifies a noun. I have my doubts regarding the existence of such a word in the English language but such a word does exist in the French language as balkanique and in the Italian language as balcànico.

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Offline palimpsest

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #16 on: August 03, 2005, 09:15:35 AM »
OK, but what makes something be "Balkanic" [presuming such an adjective exists]?
What is specific to the Balkans? Can we make such a generalization?

For example Romanians don't all think of themselves as "Balkanic" [those from Transylvania at least]. Some are proud to think of themselves as “B” others reject the very idea.
Do the Balkans stop at the Danube?

In Europe today the Balkans are seen more as a problem. I see it more as a potential. How do you see it?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by palimpsest »
I, Claudius

David_Pritchard

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #17 on: August 03, 2005, 09:52:19 PM »
Quote
For example Romanians don't all think of themselves as "Balkanic" [those from Transylvania at least]. Some are proud to think of themselves as “B” others reject the very idea.
In Europe today the Balkans are seen more as a problem. I see it more as a potential. How do you see it?


If the word is to be used as an adjective then one could have balkanic wines just as one could have french wines. Transylvania is part of Hungary that was expropriated by the Roumanians, so why should they consider themselves something that they are not? Vojvodina is another part of Hungary that is presently under Serbian occupation. Viewing the Balkans as a trouble spot is not new, this has been a widely held attitude in Europe since the Turks encroached on the Byzantine Empire centuries ago.

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Offline palimpsest

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #18 on: August 04, 2005, 01:00:51 PM »
Sweet Prince
There is something rotten in your Balkans!

I can understand why you could see the present situation of Transylvania as unjust. You must be one of those who blame the post-WW I treaty for the wrongs of Europe, as did Hitler. In the case of Transylvania I strongly disagree. Even if the Hungarian Crown has administrated Transylvania for a long time, this doesn’t mean that it was the rightful owner. Even then Transylvania had its own administration, and was never “part” of Hungary.. Romanians where always in majority long before Attila arrived in Europe, as they still are. Transylvania is beautiful, Hungarians are a proud and passionate nation, and we can share that beauty together [with Germans, Gypsies, Jews]. But when it comes to “rights” over that territory I don’t think Romanians will allow to be treated like Native Americans were. Hopefully the future EU will make such “rights” claims seem silly and useless.

The Balkan region is a “problem” only for those who have a narrow understanding of what an ethos should be like, those who project their own small worlds over others and have little patience with “aliens” and difference. I see no reason to look at the Turks from above. The Western-European hegemony over others with “civilization” and “progress” is a dying  myth. You seem to be a lost “colonial” in a post-modern world, my friend.

The Byzantine Empire was ruined by “friendly” Western Christian armies. Who would have expected that Crusaders on their way to Jerusalem will stop to loot Constantinople and to try to make it their own and rule it for themselves? For me it is not surprising that the Byzantines preferred the Turkish rule to a Western one!
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David_Pritchard

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #19 on: August 04, 2005, 01:55:55 PM »
Quote
Sweet Prince
There is something rotten in your Balkans!

I can understand why you could see the present situation of Transylvania as unjust. You must be one of those who blame the post-WW I treaty for the wrongs of Europe, as did Hitler. In the case of Transylvania I strongly disagree. Even if the Hungarian Crown has administrated Transylvania for a long time, this doesn’t mean that it was the rightful owner. Even then Transylvania had its own administration, and was never “part” of Hungary.. Romanians where always in majority long before Attila arrived in Europe, as they still are. Transylvania is beautiful, Hungarians are a proud and passionate nation, and we can share that beauty together [with Germans, Gypsies, Jews]. But when it comes to “rights” over that territory I don’t think Romanians will allow to be treated like Native Americans were. Hopefully the future EU will make such “rights” claims seem silly and useless.

The Balkan region is a “problem” only for those who have a narrow understanding of what an ethos should be like, those who project their own small worlds over others and have little patience with “aliens” and difference. I see no reason to look at the Turks from above. The Western-European hegemony over others with “civilization” and “progress” is a dying  myth. You seem to be a lost “colonial” in a post-modern world, my friend.

The Byzantine Empire was ruined by “friendly” Western Christian armies. Who would have expected that Crusaders on their way to Jerusalem will stop to loot Constantinople and to try to make it their own and rule it for themselves? For me it is not surprising that the Byzantines preferred the Turkish rule to a Western one!


I re-reading one of your earlier questions, I realise that you asked me for a personal opinion rather than a broad disinterested answer as to why Europe has been sceptical about the Balkans for so many centuries.

Personally, I do believe that the ill thought out "peace treaties" that followed the conclusion of World War I have led to many other troubles. Many millions of people have believed and still believe this, not just me. To mention Hitler in this context to discredit my widely held view seems to be a rather desperate way to counter my thoughts on the matter. It would have been far more credible and productive for you to actually debate the point regarding the treaties.

That Europeans view the Balkans as a less than civilised area could be because of the many petty wars that have taken place there whose end was a Greater Serbia, a Greater Bulgaria or a Greater Roumania, add in bandits, blood feuds, the Roma and the reasoning behind this attitude is obvious.

Why you refered to me as a colonial is lost to me. I have made no comments regarding colonialism other than that of Balkan nations wanting to annex portions of their neighbours' land and populace.

Dvaid

Offline Marlene

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #20 on: August 04, 2005, 02:47:37 PM »

Depends where you are  :)  

The Balkans do evoke horror and war-mongering ...as well as corrupt and ineffiecient governments ...granted, the Balkans, namely, Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, have had to endure far more hardships and political problems than their Western European neighbors.  It will be decades before the general population of these countries moves into the same economic lifestyle as other European countries.  But it will take a lot of work, a lot of foreign investment, and an attitude of good ethics in government and business.

After the collapse of Yugoslavia,  several new nations emerged with serious issues, Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia come to mind, as all lack serious infrastructure.  EU money can only do so much.  Croatia is making good progress, and is moving toward becoming a true tourist destination.  Of all the Balkan countries, Slovenia has made the most strides toward moving up in the European ladder.  Slovenia reaps the benefits of being a buffer EU state, and bordering Austria of major important in economic development.  And all those cheap flights from London cannot hurt.  Having a tourist infrastructure is of major importance because that can lead to other things.  
Serbia is a country crying out for foreign investment -- US Steel has moved in, for starters -- but Serbia still has political issues to resolve both internally and across the borders. Once a democratically elected government becomes the norm, all things are possible in Serbia.
Quote
OK, but what makes something be "Balkanic" [presuming such an adjective exists]?
What is specific to the Balkans? Can we make such a generalization?

For example Romanians don't all think of themselves as "Balkanic" [those from Transylvania at least]. Some are proud to think of themselves as “B” others reject the very idea.
Do the Balkans stop at the Danube?

In Europe today the Balkans are seen more as a problem. I see it more as a potential. How do you see it?

Author of Queen Victoria's Descendants,
& publisher of Royal Book News.
Visit my blog, Royal Musings  http://royalmusingsblogspotcom.blogspot.com/

Offline Marlene

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #21 on: August 04, 2005, 02:49:32 PM »
Quote
OK, but what makes something be "Balkanic" [presuming such an adjective exists]?
?



Actually, Balkanic is the baseball player who advances to first base because of Balk (in baseball)
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Offline Alex_for_King

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #22 on: August 04, 2005, 04:54:02 PM »
Balkanic - I have not heard that word as an adjective but I guess it could be used.

The Balkans - or South-Eastern Europe, which seems to be a more popular term these days, have for long been the troubled and poorer region compared to Northern, Central and Western Europe. We are the "poorer cousins of Europe", so to speak. But, we definetely got a bigger heart and a wider soul. But, the main reason why the Balkans are seen as a playground of trouble is because of constant meddling of "the big players". Whether it's Austria-Hungary, Turkey or Russia at one time, or Germany, England and the United States in another time, the fact remains that  it is not only the governments of the Balkans who should be blamed, but foreign governments who toy with them, for their own interests. Remember, the Balkan peninsula has a strategic location - it is the crossroads between Central and South-eastern Europe, between Europe and the Middle East and Europe and northern Africa.

The Balkans have wonderful nature, warm peoples. Usually, the Balkans include Croatia (as much as they are trying to get away from it, it is not possible), Bosnia and Hercegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and Greece.

Serbs, Macedonians and Bulgarians are typical Balkanese peoples. They are warm, hospitable, friendly, passionate in love and war, they like to say bad words, they smoke, drink and eat a lot. They are passionate, and life has taught them to be resourceful and to always land on their feet, especially Serbs which have endured A LOT over the centuries. The Balkan peoples can enjoy life with little money and can still be happy. Unfortunately, most Balkanese are a bit rough on the edges and uncomprehendable to their Western, all goody-goody spoiled rich European neighbors. The Balkan peoples have vast and amazing cultures and an interwined history - almost alll Balkan nations have fought each other at one time or another so all Balkan nations carry different scars from the past. The Balkan history is complex and is often a problem because there is so much of it, and so many wars, alliances, annimosities, we remember a lot of things... But, even so, the peoples of the Balkans are wonderful. Those of you who have felt the warmth of a Slavic soul know what it's like. When you would die for your friend - no questions asked, when your spoken word means more than any signed piece of paper, when you do not joke about your religion as American movies do (such as "Dogma"), when you do not make underwear out of your flag (such as what Americans do)... Here, there is a deep sense of tradition and religion.   Even Greece, a Balkan, Orthodox country in the EU, has preserved its history, language, way of writing and Greeks have very strong religious sentiments.

The Balkans are a place that have wonderful customs, cuisines, where people know how to have fun and enjoy the moment, where people are happy with small things and small dreams, a place where passion runs high.

Trust me, I am from Belgrade. I love the Balkans and I would not trade them for anything. They are my home. When I was in Canada, everything was nice but it was too sterile, to ordered. You could not play loud music, smoke if you felt you needed a smoke, you always had to follow a million rules and everything was written and spelled out for you. You knew when the subway would come. Basically, it was too nice and too quiet. I missed the excitement of home. The "controlled chaos" as I like to call it.

Call us a bit crazy, rough on the edges, unadjusted, but that's what the Balkans are. And by the way, most people that come from foreign countries end up falling in love with the Balkans - with the atmosphere of warmth in the streets, amongst the people, with tradition, great food, great nightlife and affordable prices.

I just wish that the peoples of the Balkans will find more understanding rather than conflicts. If France and Germany have overcome their problems, so will Serbs and Croats, Macedonians and Greeks, Hungarians and Romanians and so forth. The Balkans are a vast market with many resources still unused, and are now a great potential for cooperation, rather than the base for most European conflicts.

I hope the answer is satisfactory but I still do not think most of you can understand what the Balkans really are - basically it's all about the people, the atmosphere, the "Slavic soul". Russians will know what I am talking about :)

Greetings from Belgrade.

Spend five days with me in Belgrade and across Serbia, see a village weddding under a tent, go to Guca for the brassband competition, or to Leskovac for the biggest sausage, drink the plum brandy, dance the kolo and only then will you see what Serbia is really like. And Serbia being the central Balkan country, although other Balkan countries are similar in mentality. For example when I was in Bulgaria I found it very similar to Serbia, even the language, but also the folklore, the food etc.

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Alex_for_King »

Offline Alex_for_King

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #23 on: August 04, 2005, 05:36:20 PM »
There is a general feeling amongst the SO CALLED civilized nations such as the UK that the Balkans are LESS CIVILIZED. That is such a huge prejudice!

It all depends from what angle you look at it. When Serbia had a medieval empire, we ate with golden forks while Europeans still used wooden forks. The frescoes in Serbian monasteries in Kosovo are SEVERAL CENTURIES OLDER than the finest works of art during the Renaissance. Now, there is civilization for you.

For me, when the so-called civilized England dropped bombs on my country and destroyed it, that was not civilized, nor humane, no matter how much Blair tried to convince me otherwise. As a matter of fact, that was very uncivilized.

As for the conflicts between various Balkan nations, going into them would require a lot of time and space. It's not simple. Anyways, these matters are of concern to the peoples of the Balkans, yet bigger countries always seem to meddle from the outside for their own purposes.

Let's not forget that Serbs - now generally and mistakenly seen as "the all around bad guys", thanks to Western propaganda, have bled for the allies during BOTH world wars, suffering enormous human and material devastation. In 1918, for one day, the Serbian flag flew over the White House. In 1948, President Truman awarded the Legion of Merit to general Mihailovic for rescuing 500 US airmen from being captured by the Nazis... that medal was given 60 years later. That's the thanks we got from the allies. Betrayal.

The Serbs were historical allies of America, Britain, Russia, France and Greece. While the Serbs bled for the allies, the Croats, Albanians, Bosniaqs etc goose stepped all around with their Nazi friends. We were betrayed by our so-called allies more than a few times.

We have proven to be a worthy ally, we have kept our word, we have shown our strength - and by the way our soul, spirit, heart is way bigger than that of the West. The West has totally drifted from Christian values and has lost its way. Only money matters. People have become alienated, they rarely know how to pause and enjoy the moment. When you go shopping for a simple yoghurt you have to spend half an hour to choose between 50 brands. The people in the West are just running, going through life fast without stopping, just to have more and more... while we in the Balkans tend to slow down, find inspiration in smaller things and enjoy them fully and passionately.

So, please do not tell me that I am uncivilized. I've just been through a lot more than most of you guys can even imagine. And even so I have kept my spirits, my faith, and I live a life style very normal and similar to your life style, but with much less money and in much harder conditions.


Offline Alex_for_King

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #24 on: August 04, 2005, 06:22:52 PM »
Quote from: David_Pritchard
Vojvodina is another part of Hungary that is presently under Serbian occupation.[/quote


Don't even go to unchartered territories. Serbia has UNIFIED with Vojvodina after WW 1, when Austria-Hungary and Ottoman Turkey fell apart. And all those countries that have entered Yugoslavia have decided to do so at their local assemblies. Now they all say we occuppied them but it's not true.

What about the Serbian lands that the communist Tito had given away - he made Kosovo a province, as well as Vojvodina, and yet no other provinces existed in other republics, he gave part of Vojvodina to Croatia, he made Macedonia, which used to be Southern Serbia, into a republic (now an independent state). Etc.

So, don't even go there. Vojvodina is a tranquile part of northern Serbia and will remain so, because it has a Serbian majority. Considering the fact that 36 nationalities live there in relative harmony (there have been some problems but all that is nothing when compared to what went on in Bosnia, Croatia or Kosovo).

As a matter of fact, Serbia and Montenegro is the only truly multiethnic, multireligious, multicultural country of the former Yugoslavia. Croatia is almost ethnically Croatian pure, as is the province of Kosovo (almost Albanian pure). Bosnia and Macedonia are internally divided amongst ethnic lines. But, that is not the case in Serbia and Montenegro.

Different territories have changed owners in the Balkans. Greece was once part of Serbia, under Tzar Dusan, so what do we do? Claim Greece??

We could all go back 10, 50 or 500 years and territories will have changed, no doubt. Remember that most of Europe was once part of the Roman Empire. Does that mean that Italy can claim Europe? Or, can Britain reclaim half the world that it held as a collonial power?

But, Vojvodina is NOT occuppied by Serbia, and the way you said "presently", sounds as if you would like it to split from Serbia soon. Well, it is not going to happen. Vojvodina has been a part of Serbia for 80 years, I know the Hungarians would like the Austro-Hungarian empire back, but it is not going to happen. Leave Serbia alone! We have had just about enough of you people from the West taking away bits of what historically are our lands - Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia... etc. Leave the Balkans to the Balkan peoples.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Alex_for_King »

Offline Alex_for_King

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #25 on: August 04, 2005, 06:54:01 PM »
Quote from: Marlene

granted, the Balkans, namely... Yugoslavia..., have had to endure far more hardships and political problems than their Western European neighbors.  
[/quote


Thank you Marlene for such optimistic comments on Serbia. I think Serbia will be the key player in the Balkans, both economically and politically, particularly since there have been Al Qaeda ties discovered with the Bosniaqs and Albanians - whom the West had initially supported. Serbia has made huge progress in just 5 years since Milosevic was toppled. There is still a lot to do but we will get there.

Anyways, Serbs are, perhaps like Jews, Russians or Armenians, a people who have endured incredible hardships over the course of their history. 500 years of islamic terror rule (the Ottoman Turks), both world wars (in the First war, we were occuppied by Austro-Hungary, Germany and Bulgaria) and we lost almost a third of our entire civilian population (23%), in the Second war Yugoslavia was occuppied and divided by Germany, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Albania. The Nazis had killed about 70,000 Serbs. The communists have over the decades killed some 200,000 Serbs and the Croats have killed about a million, in their Nazi state.  And after both world catastrophes, on which we fought on the allied side and suffered greatly, came communism - what hurts is that Yugoslavia was literally handed to communists by Churchill. After Tito came Milosevic's experiment. The country fell apart. Sanctions. Nato's bombs. And still we survive, to an amazing degree of normalcy - you'd be surprised to see that my life does not differ much from yours, except you have more money and your future seems more easy to grasp. But, compared to you, I have been through A LOT. I do not think you guys can even imagine... Sometimes I feel how is it possible that Serbs have survived all this?

Back in the 1990s when all hell broke loose, a group of German school children had been asked what they would like to be when they grow up. They all said - Serbs. When the shocked teachers asked why, they said - because Serbs are indestructible, nothing can harm them and in the end they always manage to survive, somehow, like cats with 9 lives. And this is true. Nothing can really hurt us. If neither the genocide nor communism managed to destroy us (although it gave us a lot of pain), nothing will.

Look for Serbia in the near future. It will become a leader in the Balkans but Marlene is right, there are issues which need to be solved - Montenegro, Kosovo, the Hague tribunal etc. Serbia needs to be given support, not just blackmailed and punished. We have suffered enough because of Milosevic. We have gotten rid of Milosevic and are now a democratic country.
It's about time we were given a break.

My appeal to Western governments is - either help us or leave us alone. But stop the two-timing policy, the double standards, the deceiving, the blackmailing etc.

Marlene has been in Belgrade and she has given an interesting analysis, although short. For an American, it's very well done. Thank you again Marlene for having faith in us. We will do better, you'll see.

Offline Alex_for_King

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #26 on: August 04, 2005, 07:00:13 PM »
I was inspired and having given you guys plenty to read, I must say good night. Please forgive me for the lengthy messages, but I simply had to react to some postings and hopefully, after reading my messages, you will understand what "Balkanic" means.

It's 2 am in Belgrade and some cool weather has finally arrived, it's been really hot past few days - 36 degrees C.

My warmest regards to everyone.
Peace and Love.
God Bless.

Offline Marlene

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #27 on: August 05, 2005, 09:13:22 AM »
[quote author=Alex_for_King , when you do not joke about your religion as American movies do (such as "Dogma"), when you do not make underwear out of your flag (such as what Americans do).... When I was in Canada, everything was nice but it was too sterile, to ordered. You could not play loud music, smoke if you felt you needed a smoke, you always had to follow a million rules and everything was written and spelled out for you. You knew when the subway would come. Basically, it was too nice and too quiet. I missed the excitement of home. The "controlled chaos" as I like to call it.


I[/quote]


Alex, darlin'  It would be quite offensive for an American flag to be worn as underwear.  We have have rather strict rules about the flag.  Americans have a rather unique attachment to their flag.  As a practicing Lutheran, I would never joke about my faith - but can laugh and joke about the culture of being Lutheran ... it's not about the religion itself, but  the cultural entities.

Far too many people smoke far too many cigarettes.  It's awful.  I could not enjoy a meal in one restaurant because of all the smoke.  Plain and simple, smoking is bad, whether it is the smoker or the second hand smoke.

and that law ... if you don't finish the exterior of your house, you don't pay tax on it ... ergo, many homes are never finished on the outside.. now that is one loophole the Serbian govt needs to address to bring in more revenue.

Serbians are interested in the latest products, too.  They want variety, and stores filled with goods and they want choice.  There is an Escada shop on Knez Mihaila and I also noticed a Porsche dealership as we drove out of the city toward Topola.
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Offline Marlene

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #28 on: August 05, 2005, 09:17:53 AM »
[quote author=Alex_for_King
Marlene has been in Belgrade and she has given an interesting analysis, although short. For an American, it's very well done. Thank you again Marlene for having faith in us. We will do better, you'll see.[/quote]


I think I will take it as a compliment ... we are not dumb on this side of the Pond, you know.
:)
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Offline TampaBay

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Re: The Balkans--their cultures, languages, religion and history
« Reply #29 on: August 05, 2005, 09:44:00 AM »
Quote

Trust me, I am from Belgrade. I love the Balkans and I would not trade them for anything. They are my home. When I was in Canada, everything was nice but it was too sterile, to ordered. You could not play loud music, smoke if you felt you needed a smoke, you always had to follow a million rules and everything was written and spelled out for you. You knew when the subway would come. Basically, it was too nice and too quiet. I missed the excitement of home. The "controlled chaos" as I like to call it.



Alex_for_King,

On your next trip to North American, come to Florida.  I will personally introduce yo to "Floridian" culture.

I cannot promise you "controlled chaos" only total chaos as we have a large supply always on hand.

Just tell me when and wear to meet your plane or Yacht. ;D ;D ;D

TampaBay

PS

Was Tito Serbian or Croatian or Montenegrian?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by TampaBay »
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