Spite: Petty ill will or hatred with the disposition to irritate, annoy, or thwart; a desire to hurt, annoy, or offend someone. Merriam-Webster & Oxford Dictionaries
“Inat” is the Serbo-Croat word that is best translated into as “spite”, but in the lexicon of ex-Yugoslavia it is not just a noun but a mindset that best describes the relationship between the now independent republics. A perfect example of the Yugoslav “inat” phenomenon was recently featured in the pages of The New York Times.
Some years after the United Nations was established the reconstituted Yugoslavia, then a communist regime, purchased a luxurious, definitely not a proletarian apartment at 730 Park Avenue in New York City to house its Ambassador to the United Nations. The 14 room duplex, housed in a luxury apartment building built in 1929, is “considered one of the most prestigious addresses on the Upper East Side, 730 Park [being] at the peak of the avenue below 79th Street”. The apartment next door that once belonged to Mike Wallace, the trailblazing broadcast journalist [CBS’ 60 Minutes], sold for $20 million while a 12 room duplex penthouse went for $39 million, both in 2012.
In 1992, as the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was breaking up, her last Ambassador to the United Nations Darko Silovic, a Croat, walked out of the apartment without bothering to turn out the lights or secure its future maintenance. For reasons unexplained he delivered the apartment’s keys to Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the UN Secretary General. The ultimate “fuck you” gesture to the old SFRY and the other five constituent republics. Since then the apartment has remained unoccupied, unattended, uncared for and deteriorating, falling into disrepair.