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Tesla as a motive – the Croatian euro coins cause Serbian protests

It's not a big change for the Croatians.

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Tesla as a motive – the Croatian euro coins cause Serbian protests

It's not a big change for the Croatians. The euro has been a kind of parallel currency in your country for years, and many already calculate in the European currency. However, on January 1st, Croatia will join the euro zone and the euro will replace the kuna in all areas.

The expansion of the euro zone will also be noticed by the other Europeans, in their everyday life at the tills. Because in the new year, new euro coins will come into circulation, which will feature specific Croatian design elements on the reverse.

At first glance, these appear puzzling, but they provide insight into some largely unknown details of European history - and they caused a dispute with the Serbian neighbor in advance.

The two-euro coin is relatively unspectacular: it shows the geographical outline of Croatia. On the other hand, the picture on the Croatian one-euro piece is probably puzzling for most people: it shows a marten.

The reason for this, however, is not a particularly strong bond with nature, rather the name of the previous Croatian currency kuna means "marten" - and this has reasons going back far into history. Animal skins were used as currency in Eastern Europe up until the twelfth century. Furs from squirrels, ermines, but also from martens were used.

Later, silver became a common medium of exchange, and its weight was measured in hryvnia - from which Ukraine derived the name of its currency. If you wanted to pay for smaller things, something was cut from the silver – it was called rubit’ in the Slavic languages, and this became the Russian ruble.

The Croats, on the other hand, remained true to the marten and coined it on a silver coin called Banovac as early as the 13th century. During the Ustasha regime between 1941 and 1945, the country's own currency was named after the marten for the first time, and the kuna was reintroduced in 1994 after independence in 1991 and the subsequent decline of the Croatian dinar. It lives on indirectly in the marten motif on the one-euro coin.

The motif on the copper coins of five, two and one cent goes even further back in history. Because the letters H and R can be seen on it, intertwined – but in Glagolithic script.

This was developed in the 9th century by the Greek monk Konstantin von Saloniki, later called Cyrill, for the missionary work of the Slavs. It was later superseded by a script called Cyrillic, which is still used today for languages ​​spoken by Christian Orthodox speakers.

The peoples with a Catholic majority, on the other hand, went over to Latin letters - only among the Croats did Glagolithic survive for a long time, at least in niches such as for liturgical texts. In the 19th century, the script became a national symbol, with which the Croats distinguished themselves from both the West and the orthodox Serbs.

Finally, the relationship with the Serbs also affects the fourth motif of the Croatian coin design, which can be seen on the euro pieces of 50, 20 and 10 cents. Because the inventor Nikola Tesla is shown on it - and that had already triggered violent protests on the Serbian side when the announcement was made.

Because Tesla was born in 1856 in the village of Smiljan, which today belongs to Croatia. However, his parents were Serbs, his father even an orthodox priest. Therefore, the Serbs consider it one of their own and they have featured it on the Serbian 100 dinar note for many years.

In an online vote in Croatia on the motifs on the euro coins, however, Tesla received by far the most votes with almost 23 percent. Ties, whose Croatian origin is undisputed, as the name already shows, followed in second place with nine percent. No Serb would have objected to a tie motif.

At Tesla, however, some Serbs spoke of "cultural appropriation". Croatia's Prime Minister Andrej Plenković countered at the time that they should be happy that a Serb could be seen on the Croatian euro coins, which ultimately testifies to Croatia's openness.

In addition, Tesla lived most of the time in the USA, became an American citizen and his hometown was part of the Habsburg Empire at the time of his birth - ultimately he was a citizen of the world, someone who had little to do with nationalisms. And in this respect it is a well-chosen motif for a euro coin.

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