Thoughts about the Serbians' response to the refugee crisis

If you're older than 30 like me (at 48) I think its hard for perceptions of Serbia not to be coloured by its role in the terrible events that accompanied the fragmenting of the former Yugoslavia into several smaller countries: endless news stories of genocide and crimes against humanity, mass graves, NATO bombing, etc. By any account Serbia had a starring role in the worst period in European history since World War II.

Like all countries with a dark period in their past - and lets face it to one degree or another every country them - it is easy to see Serbia through the lens of that darker period long after it is over.

I say all this because in the migration crisis we see a different Serbia. Look at how Serbia's neighbour Hungary has treated refugees: fencing them out, tear gassing those who arrive, and arresting them. By contrast Serbia has welcomed them, allowed them to pass through, and despite being one of Europe's poorer countries does what it can to make their journey humane and safe. So do its NGOs, who play a central role in services for the refugees that pass through, services that are funded to a significant extent by donations of average Serbians.

Only one person out of more than 700,000 has died passing through the Serbian camps I'm working in (he was old and had a heart attack) whilst dozens, at a minimum, of new babies have been born safely. Those statistics say clearly that Serbia is doing something right - and much morethan many EU member states can claim.

No country should remain imprisoned by its past forever. Look at Germany: we all know the Germany of today is not the Germany of the wars of the last century. We should recognise that Serbia isn't either.

I hope the Serbian people are proud of what their country is doing - they certainly should be. So should the rest of us.