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World - Europe

Generation Y: Yugoslavia's disillusioned youth

Ivana is an economics student who lives off of the tips she makes washing windshields at traffic lights  
CNN's Matthew Chance reports on the post-Milosevic generation.
Windows Media 28K 80K

September 4, 1999
Web posted at: 10:19 p.m. EDT (0219 GMT)

By Correspondent Matthew Chance

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (CNN) -- Nationwide, they are known as Generation Y -- Yugoslavia's Milosevic generation.

They've grown up in a country bombed by NATO and ravaged by four wars in a decade.

Now, their country is isolated by the international community and facing economic ruin.

"The situation in our country has been bad for years," says a youth known only as Snow White. "So it's just another point in the scale of things in our country getting worse."

For many of them, their homeland is also their prison.

Disillusioned and lacking the right political connections, many young Serbs feel they have few prospects for a career at home.

The lucky ones can leave

Talk at a university cafe isn't of learning, but of leaving.

Sonia is only 21, but she sees no future for herself in her homeland.

dance club
Many young Serbs escape their troubles in nightclubs  

"I've decided to go right now. I have a chance to study abroad in the United States," Sonia says. "It's not my first choice. I don't want to leave here because this is my country and I love it, but I can't see me getting a job here."

Sonia is one of the lucky few. Since the NATO bombing campaign, even the option of leaving the country has been removed for many.

Ivana is an economics student who normally pays her way through college as a diving instructor in Greece or Italy. This summer, her visas were denied.

Now she washes motorists' windshields as they are stopped at intersections. The tips she earns at the traffic lights are her only source of income.

"This is survival ... nothing else," Ivana says.

Leaving the country for a better future or even carving out a living at Belgrade's traffic lights isn't for everyone.

Many young Serbs flock to the nightclubs, choosing to escape their troubles for a few hours. With bright lights and mirrored disco balls shining down on them, it could be anywhere in Europe.

But compared to their Eastern European counterparts, Yugoslavia's disillusioned youth have a dark future ahead when the disco music fades into the grim light of day.

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