Serbia and Albania: Know Thy Neighbour

In October 2017, I went to Tirana for a conference about relations between Serbia and Albania, jointly organised by the Albanian Institute for International Studies and the European Movement in Serbia. One of the topics of the conference was the public perception of the relationship between the two countries, which made me instinctively shudder. Despite the recent displays of friendship between the Albanian Prime Minister … Continue reading Serbia and Albania: Know Thy Neighbour

“Serbsplaining” the West

From the early days of modern Serbia, and arguably before, Serbian perceptions and expectations of ‘the West’ were in many ways inextricable from how Serbians perceived themselves. Serbian uprisings against the Ottomans were from the outset imagined as a way for Serbia to re-join and catch-up with its Christian brethren from the West, who were expected to embrace it with open hands. After the last … Continue reading “Serbsplaining” the West

Poverty and Politics in Serbia

I only became aware of inequality and class division once I moved to a country which is almost synonymous with them: the UK. At both university and work, my British friends frequently dissected levels of “posh-ness” in themselves and others, assessing how appropriate it was to play rugby or vote Conservative, given their background. I was, of course, dumbfounded. In Serbia, discussing “class” and inequality … Continue reading Poverty and Politics in Serbia

Serbia’s paradoxical affair with history

When pundits look for a culprit for instability in the Balkans, their fingers often point to history, or rather the great fondness the people here have for it. Visitors to Serbia are often baffled by Serbians’ tendency to explain contemporary actions and attitudes by referencing events that happened several centuries ago. For example, it is not uncommon for somebody to explain Serbia’s awkward teetering between … Continue reading Serbia’s paradoxical affair with history

Westsplaining the Balkans

Twenty years ago, while the embers of war in Bosnia and Croatia were still smouldering, Bulgarian historian Maria Todorova published “Imagining the Balkans”. In this seminal work, she detailed the ways in which the Balkans have been perceived and documented for centuries both home and aboard – most often as a somewhat brutal and uncivilised forecourt of Europe. Todorova called this discourse “Balkanism” as homage … Continue reading Westsplaining the Balkans

Serbian elites’ long war on clarity

Although it is 170 years since a simplified Serbian language became the norm, Serbian elites still prefer muddying the rhetorical waters  In 1847, after three decades of struggle, Vuk Karadžić and his allies, Petar Petrović Njegoš, Branko Radičević and Đura Daničić, decisively won the battle for the standardisation of Serbian folk language and its literary use. Their victory was achieved by proving that the language … Continue reading Serbian elites’ long war on clarity

Ana Brnabić: the least bad news for Serbia

Appointment of a competent pro-Western openly gay female PM is a good thing, even though Serbia’s democracy is sliding back Today, after a long unwarranted delay Serbia’s president/PM Aleksandar Vučić decided to appoint Ana Brnabić as his successor who is to from the new Serbian government. This function will be almost ceremonial, as Vučić clearly showed intention to keep all the reigns in his hands. … Continue reading Ana Brnabić: the least bad news for Serbia

April in Belgrade: Photos from pro-democracy protests

After a sort of Easter break, the protests for media freedom and democracy continue today. They started on 3 April, after PM Aleksandar Vučić won the Presidential election, and  gathered large crowds across Serbia demanding free media, democratic control, fair elections and social justice. In Belgrade, on Saturday 9 April there were a few tens of thousands marching from the main Serbian government building in … Continue reading April in Belgrade: Photos from pro-democracy protests