Freitag, 1. August 2014
Top 10 Non-Capital Cities to Visit in the Balkans
"The famous Balkan Peninsula is the territory that covers the southeastern Europe and it’s well-known for rich greenery and beautiful nature, which is making the region perfect for both, summer and winter vacation! The region takes its name from the Balkan Mountains and this place is a home of 11 wonderful countries!" (Source: Top Inspired)

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Dienstag, 23. März 2010
Endlose Asylströme für UNHCR "Mythos"
"Kriegerische Konflikte, Verfolgung und Folter treiben weltweit nach wie vor Hunderttausende Menschen in die Flucht. Im Vorjahr suchten in Europa und sechs weiteren westlichen Industrieländern über 377.000 Menschen Schutz und stellten Asylanträge. Doch den oftmals von der Politik beschworenen, immer rasanter wachsenden Strom aus der "Dritten" in die "Erste Welt" gibt es nur als "Mythos", wie das UNHCR anhand seiner neuesten Daten erklärt." [Quelle:]

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Samstag, 24. Oktober 2009
Beton auf dem Balkan
"Ob in Pula, Rijeka, Novi Sad, Skopje, Prishtina oder Novi Beograd. Die Städte im ehemaligen Jugoslawien mögen ihre Nationalität gewechselt haben. Ihre gemeinsame architektonische Vergangenheit aber lebt munter weiter. Und das ist auch gut so, findet Ralf Niemczyk." [Quelle:]

Ich trage dazu doch gleich was bei. Und nehme mir vor, die Ausstellung Balkanology im Wiener Architekturzentrum zu besuchen.

Prishtina, Kosovo.
Monument. (novala)

Belgrade. (novala)

Belgrade. (novala)

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Dienstag, 18. August 2009
Balkans Demystified
What's so special about going to the Balkans, I once was asked. Nothing. Nothing anymore.

Travelling to the Balkans has shifted from journeys of discovery to vacation trips. It doesn't trigger my curiosity anymore. My stories came with seeing and touching the unknown. I am sure there is lots more out there, but my view is blocked by the known.

What I saw are changes - Montenegro is so overcrowded with tourists that there is no space left on the beaches. Sarajevo is so overcrowded with tourists that there are even signs directing the way to museums, mountains and waterfalls. Višegrad even has a sign for tourists saying "Ivo Andrić's Bridge on The Drina" and the once run down restaurant is fully renovated and ready for all the visitors on the bridge. Hospitality hasn't changed for the better - I've never felt so not welcome in Sarajevo before. Maybe this comes with the increase of tourists. Who knows.

So no stories to tell, but some pictures to show. Since I still haven't finished Montenegro from last year you might have to wait for this year until 2011.

Some Sarajevo for now.
Sarajevo. (novala)
Click to see panorama pic: sarajevo_nachts_xl (jpg, 100 KB)

or see short video:

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Montag, 3. August 2009
New Adventures in Montenegro and Bosnia
coming up. 5 more days!

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Samstag, 11. Juli 2009
Balkan Express on Demand
I have just noticed that the web Standard presents the entire series of the Balkan Express videos initiated by Erste Foundation and the European Stability Initiative ESI. 10 on demand videos on Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey. Check it out. It's worth it.

More info

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Freitag, 28. März 2008
Return to Europe — Talking Balkans
An international symposion with fantastic speakers is taking place in Vienna next week:

"The international symposium "Return to Europe. Talking Balkans", presented by ERSTE Foundation and ORF RadioKulturhaus, announces the start of the first season of the TV documentary "Balkan Express", which will be broadcast on 3sat (starting 27 April 2008) and ORF (autumn 2008). At the "Großer Sendesaal" studio, international representatives of politics, culture, business and science will discuss the "Balkan concept" on 3 - 4 April 2008. In addition to exclusive clips from the documentary series, the programme also features examples of video art from the region."

3 and 4 April 2008

ORF RadioKulturhaus
Großer Sendesaal
Argentinierstr. 30a
1040 Vienna

Free admission

On stage are:

Alfred Gusenbauer (Federal Chancellor of Austria)

Opening presentation:
Slavenka Drakulic (author, Croatia)

Introduction, presentation of research and film projects, excerpts from the 10 documentaries:
Gerald Knaus (ESI chairman, Turkey),
Boris Marte (Managing Director, ERSTE Foundation, Austria)

Discussion I: The state of the Balkans - Spring 2008 19:00 — 21:00 Moderation:
Tim Judah (journalist, BBC, The Economist, UK)
Slavenka Drakulic (Author, Croatia)
Gordana Igric (Journalist, Serbia)
Edi Rama (Mayor of Tirana, Albania)
Ivan Vejvoda (Executive Director, Balkan Trust for Democracy, Serbia)

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"A ten-part documentary starting on 27 April 2008

Hop on and let's take a ride across the south-east of Europe. ORF und ORF/3sat take you on an exploration into the Balkans. The route takes us through landscapes and cities situated at the Adriatic Sea, along the Danube River, across South Eastern Europe to the region's largest city, Istanbul. What is so fascinating about this multiform entity called the "Balkans"? Where are its myths - but also those distorted images which have persisted until today - coming from? How do the inhabitants view themselves? History is told on old Roman and Ottoman roads. With stories written by life - and with the results of sound scientific research."

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Montag, 19. November 2007
European Young Journalist Award: "Enlarge Your Vision"
"Young journalists from all over Europe are invited to participate in a pan-European competition. The organiser is the European Commission, Directorate-General for Enlargement, in cooperation with the European Youth Press association. The objective of the competition is to encourage young journalists to reflect on and express their views on the European Union's enlargement policy.

During its 50 year history, the European Union has grown from originally 6 member states to 27. With a population of close to 500 million inhabitants, today's Union is much stronger and more influential than with its 6 member states and a population of less than 200 million. Enlargement is one of the EU’s most powerful policy tools. The pull of the EU has helped to transform Central and Eastern Europe into modern, well-functioning democracies.

All European citizens benefit from having neighbours that are stable democracies and prosperous market economies. Enlargement is a carefully managed process which helps the transformation of the countries involved, extending peace, stability, prosperity, democracy, human rights and the rule of law across Europe.

Young European citizens in particular are taking advantage of this community of diverse values and cultures, as it is getting easier for them to travel and learn other languages through EU exchange programs. In the long run, they are the ones who will benefit most from EU enlargement.

By formulating their ideas of the future Europe, young journalists are important opinion-leaders for their generation. In the framework of the competition, participants are asked to submit a recently published article (publication date between January 2007 and March 15, 2008).

On the special competition website ( ) they can find articles on the EU enlargement, written by their colleagues, as inspiration for their journalistic work. Entries for the competition can be written in one of the official EU languages or one of the languages of the
candidate and potential candidate countries. At the end of the competition each participating country will select a national winner and all 35 winners will undertake a 3 day trip through Western Balkan countries together."


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Montag, 30. Juli 2007
Bosnia and Kosovo: "Still critical"
An acquaintance drew my attention to a travel report in Sunday's edition of the Austrian newspaper "Kurier". ORF journalist Wolfgang Godai had done the great tour of former Yugoslavia and Albania. He drove 4.400 km in three weeks. Kurier published the SMS he sent during his journey.

Mercedes SLK. (Kurier)

Most of the short messages mention things like bad beds, bad food, noisy places, corrupt policemen, strict Serbian customs, missing or cyrillic street signs in Belgrade, no water in the hotel ... In Mostar the journalist got almost robbed. Some criminals stopped him in his car and wanted to cut the tires. He took off with 120 km/h, got caught by a radar trap and stopped by the police.

The article finishes with two recommendations:
- Kosovo is not recommended for individual tourists.
- Bosnia is not recommended for individual tourists.

When you look at it more closely, I am not sure, that it's very streetsmart to use "an almost brandnew Mercedes SLK Convertible"* for a trip of that kind through the Balkans.

But isn't it nice to find enough proofs of every single prejudice of the Balkans? Yes, due to power outages we sat in the dark, too, in Montenegro. So we turned on the radio in the car, opened the windows and listened to corny old Željko Samardžić from the balcony (and all the neighbors with us). Yes, due to water shortage we took just a quick shower or none at all that day. Yes, corruption is a problem. There is no excuse for that.

No, it's not necessary to solely focus on the rainy days. There is a significant sunny side of the Balkans.

I haven't been to Macedonia yet, but when it comes to the rest of his travel report I am happy to tell a totally different story. Am I the only one?

* I am not saying that it's ok to steal cars.

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