Balkans

Kosovo Cries Out for Change

Kosovo is crying out for change, writes Peter Geoghegan, and, increasingly disillusioned with the political system, voters have turned to electing a comedian to office. Are comedians the political voices for the apathetic generation? If the reaction to Russell Brand’s recent decrees is anything to go by, they could well be. But while Brand was […]

LRB Blog: In Tirana

The Palace of Culture in Tirana has housed Albania’s national library, opera and ballet companies for almost 50 years. Khrushchev laid the first stone, in May 1959, during what one American newsreel described as a ‘lengthy visit with mysterious overtones’. These days the ground floor of the opera is a count centre during national and local elections. […]

Albania: Can one of Europe’s poorest countries change its ways?

HAJMEL, Albania — Wine production has a long history in the northern region of Zadrima: The first recorded planting of its signature grape Kallmet took place in 1555. Today, rows of well-tended vines filling the neat fields around this small village bask under a hot sun. It feels as if nothing has changed for centuries. […]

Polls to test turbulent Albanian democracy

Tirana, Albania – Under the secretive Communist regime of Enver Hoxha, Blloku was the most restricted district in Albania. Only high-ranking apparatchiks in the ruling Party of Labour were allowed to reside in the tight grid of tree-lined streets located in the centre of the capital, Tirana. In the middle of “the Block” stood Hoxha’s own […]

Croatians divided over EU accession

Zagreb, Croatia – As Croatia prepares for its accession to the European Union on Monday, many in the capital say they are hopeful the move will revive a moribund economy, but others aren’t optimistic ordinary citizens will benefit. Croatia’s capital recently hosted a volunteer week to encourage people to get involved with groups that assist those […]

On eve of EU accession, Croatia cautiously optimistic

During the recent local elections in Zagreb, almost every candidate was keen to stress their pro-European Union credentials. In the city’s Cvetni Trg, or Flower Square, some councilors handed out bumper stickers with the EU’s starry logo to passing shoppers. Others appeared on platforms festooned with Croatian and European flags. Croatia is not yet a member of the […]

After smoothing tensions in Slovenia, PM Bratusek seeks to win over Europe

If a week is a long time in politics, then two months can feel like an eternity. That has certainly been the case for Slovenian Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek. Ms. Bratusek, the country’s first female premier and the telegenic leader of Pozitivna Slovenija (Positive Slovenia), only took office in late March. But she has spent […]

Slovenia prepares for summer of discontent

Ljubljana, Slovenia – In Slovenia, few traits are as highly prized as gospodariti, literally the ability to manage finances prudently. Gospodariti was often cited to explain Slovenia’s emergence as an industrial motor of Marshal Tito’s Yugoslav system during the Cold War. As Yugoslavia collapsed in bloody fratricide,gospodariti again came to the rescue, helping a newly independent nation of just two million […]

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