Balkans & Beyond EN

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BALKANS &BEYOND by Cafébabel


Croatia, Refugees Reloaded

Coming Out in Kosovo

Belgrade, Dubai of the Balkans

by Barbara Matejčić and Matic Zorman

by Fisnik Dobreci

by Marina Lalovic and Jasmin Brutus


Balkan Beats

Goodbye Tito, hello chaos? The war in ex Yugoslavia started

either through the wars or the collapse of Yugoslavia, but they

twenty-five years ago in 1991. Firstly, it was Slovenia to

also share a mutual sense of history and a strong will to share it.

move towards independence and then, the Croatian War of

While the participants of Balkans & Beyond are infatuated

Independence contributed to the continued dismantling of

with the region, and its open-minded culture, with its «strong

Tito’s once united and glorious Yugoslavia. The conflicts in

cigarettes, strong coffee, and strong characters,» they are also

Bosnia and Kosovo in the mid-nineties completed the bloodiest

aware of the dangers they’ll have to face, from economic crisis

decade in recent European history.

to corruption, accompanied by the rise of nationalism.

The Balkans are only a few hours away from Paris, London,

In these troubled and dangerous times, it was essential for

Berlin or Rome by air but Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia,

us to find a way to convey a sense of mutual history, as well

Montenegro, Macedonia are still considered ‘strangers’

as the wish to look toward the future. Over the course of the

to the European Union. The region still evokes images of

project, we began to ask ourselves what symbol we could use

Kalashnikovs, mafia and slivovitz fruit brandy, rather than

to represent and highlight this mutual history. It soon became

peace and prosperity.

clear: Tito’s various public monuments.

Achieving peace is sometimes more complicated than winning

Spread throughout former Yugoslavia are strange, concrete

a war. But it is time to go beyond those wounds. Beyond clichés.

sculptures built by Tito that were meant to convey the

Beyond hate. Beyond the past.

confidence and strength of the Socialist Federal Republic of

What about Balkans now? How do the citizens of the former

Yugoslavia. In the 1980s, these monuments attracted millions

Yugoslavian republics live today? What do its younger

of visitors per year, especially the young pioneers, who visited

generations aspire to? What about Yugo-nostalgia and Tito?

these monuments as part of their «patriotic education.» After

When cafebabel Berlin decided to launch Balkans & Beyond,

the Republic dissolved in the early 1990s, they were entirely

a journalistic project generously supported by the Allianz

abandoned, and their symbolic significance was lost forever.

Kulturstiftung, the idea was to give a voice to young people from

But not for everyone . . .

seven Balkan countries: Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina,

Our art director decided to redraw these monuments, adopting

Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Macedonia. To give a

a minimalist approach to the graphics seen throughout the

face to a new generation, which is curious, energetic, and ready

e-book, as a reminder of the former unity of Tito’s Yugoslavia,

to forgive, but not forget. To discover how they view their own

while simultaneously giving them a futuristic aspect that strives

region, in order to get them to work together across borders.

to convey the promise of unity in decades to come.

Well, the Balkans as viewed by their people.

Balkans & Beyond has been a wonderful project to work on,

The result of Balkans & Beyond has been astounding. It

and in the name of the entire cafebabel network, from Paris to

showcases not only original but also subjective stories, which

Berlin, Pristina to Belgrade, we are very happy and honoured to

beautifully illustrate life and politics in Post-Tito Yugoslavia.

present this tableau of life in the Balkans.

Based on the large number of applications we received to

We hope you’ll have as much pleasure reading it as we had

take part in the project, we realised that there was incredible

creating it.

creative potential in the region. Aside from their outstanding professional credentials, our fourteen journalists and photographers brought additional insights to the table: Not

Prune Antoine

only have they all had personal experiences with disaster,

Editor in chief of Balkans & Beyond 5





Balkan Beats

The New Balkans in the Spotlight

Books that Burn on Piles of Wood

by Prune Antoine

by Michael M. Thoss

by Jeton Neziraj




New Youth, Old Power

Belgrade, Dubai of the Balkans

No Country For Young Men

by Jelena Kulidžan and Tomislav Georgiev

by Marina Lalovic and Jasmin Brutus

by Natasha Kramberger, Jelena Prtorić and Mirza Ajnadžić





Sarajevo’s postDayton Generation

Croatia, Refugees Reloaded

Coming Out in Kosovo

by Lana Pasic and Nemanja Pančić

by Barbara Matejčić and Matic Zorman

by Fisnik Dobreci



The Macedonian Contributors “Women’s Revolution” by Zaklina HadziZafirova, Muhamet Hajrullahu and Tomislav Georgiev 7

The New Balkans in the Spotlight

“The Balkans” have always unsettled the collective

emigration is present throughout the Balkans, leading many

subconscious of Western Europeans. Since the collapse of the

citizens (not politicians!) towards increased solidarity with

Ottoman Empire, the region has been seen as a flashpoint—

refugees from the Middle East. And everything will come down

from the splitting of Macedonia into Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria,

to this: making legal migrants out of those who have been

and Albania, to the collapse of former Yugoslavia and the

humiliated, who have fled their homes, and allowing them to

“Third Balkan War.”

travel between their home and guest countries in order to

There is disagreement over where the Balkans even start

contribute to the reconstruction and peace of both their old

and end—consider that the “Great Balkan” mountain range

and new home countries through money transfers, know-how,

begins in western Turkmenistan! In one of her stories, the

and the transfer of knowledge. But as long as we don’t establish

Croatian author Slavenka Drakulić described the Balkans as

legal immigration opportunities for non-Europeans, illegal

a phenomenon that becomes more obscure the closer one

immigration will not cease.

nears it.

The multi-perspective reports gathered here point in the

However, the associations that are stirred up by the Balkans

right direction. In them we discover the life stories of bold

are almost exclusively negative: the Balkan Wars, Balkan

young people who gather and exchange their first European

conflicts, Balkan-isation, etc.— and added to that, of course,

experiences on the Balkans route wishing to contribute to the

is the Western Balkans route! As a result, the Balkans have

creation of a peaceful and prosperous Europe. The Allianz

become synonymous with danger and uncontrollable chaos

Cultural Foundation has repeatedly supported cafébabel’s

for Western Europeans. But the current “Geopolitics of the

journalistic projects in the Balkans in the past, bringing the

Feet,” as Historian Karl Schlögel called it during one of our

former Yugoslavian countries closer together in discussion

conferences, will thoroughly change the cartography of Europe

and strengthening civil society. Maybe one day, thanks to

and the composition of our societies.

cafébabel, the Balkans will become a synonym for Europe’s

If we compare Europe, which is currently splitting itself into

social laboratory.

pieces, with countries such as Jordan or Lebanon, where every third or fourth citizen has become a refugee, then to refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, or Iraq, the region must still seem praiseworthy.

Michael M. Thoss Director of Allianz Kulturstiftung

Partially within the EU and partially without, the Balkans currently serve as a real test for Europe, given the newly erected border fences and checkpoints. However, a democratically agreed-upon refugee policy, which would be transformed into a European migration policy, could give the region a new identity. The memory of their own history of 9

Books that Burn on Piles of Wood

On several occasions over the course of the last twenty years I

of her office and told me I could take as many books as I wished.

have witnessed the intentional burning of books.

I have had bags full of books, dragging them throughout airport

At the beginning of the ‘90s, with the collapse of communism,

terminals. And in order to unload the weight of my suitcases, I

the grown-ups of my family took the “red” books of communism

enveloped myself with books, just as suicide bombers envelop

out of the house where I lived and burned them in the

themselves with bombs.

backyard—books by Karl Marx, Engels, Tito . . . They spared

“Why are you taking all these books? They’re in German. You

only one book, by Rosa Luxemburg, which apparently did not

don’t read in German,” I was once asked by a German friend

seem that horrible to them as compared to other books.

while filling my bag with books.

Afterwards, during the 90s, I saw how Serbian workers took

“I’m not taking them to read them, but to have them,” I said.

out piles of books from the National and University Libraries

Part of the struggle to put an end to this trauma was also the

of Kosovo and loaded them onto a tractor, sending them off to

Polip International Literature Festival, which we organize every

be burned. During the war we saw, from the mountains, houses

year in Prishtina. Every year we host around thirty writers,

being burned down. When some of those houses burned more

mainly from the surrounding region. This is the festival where

than others, we would jokingly say: “they must have lots of

Serbian writers, for the first time after the end of the war, read


their poems in Serbian in front of an Albanian audience.

A strange hatred towards books had simply taken place, and

When I am asked what it was like to initiate such literary and

that, mainly towards books written in the language of the other,

cultural interaction between Serbs and Albanians after the

the language of “the enemy.”

war, I say: “like an ordinary man walking into a minefield.”

I thought that burning the books of others is perhaps worse

The Balkans of today are different from the ones of the 90s.

than burning their homes, destroying their properties, or

They has changed for better, of course. However, the traumas

expelling them from their homeland.

of flames engulfing books, people, houses, and memories

During the battles, I took the books out of my house and buried

lingered like the weight of the cross on our shoulders. In order

them in order to save them from the flames. Later I heard that

for these traumas to fade away, each and every one of us

many people did the same thing.

should carry books (just as I do), write books, translate books,

There is something mythical about this entire hatred and love

and, above all, save books. Save them from ever being burned

of books. I wouldn’t have been surprised to find, at a certain


point in the future, that primitive curses such as, “may you die

The more books we have around us, the better our future in the

without posterity” or “may you disappear off the face of the

Balkans will be.

earth” were substituted by “may your books burn down.” During the ‘90s, book burnings were a phenomena found throughout former Yugoslavia, in the areas of battles, displacements, in the areas of violence. Images of books being burned created a kind of trauma for me.

Jeton Neziraj

Playwright from Kosovo

A trauma that perhaps one day all books will be burned and we’ll have nothing left. I have often imagined myself living in a world without books—this idea terrified me. Thus, since the end of the war I have carried, perhaps in order to confront this trauma, books from the four corners of the globe. A few years ago in Calgary, a professor opened the door 11

Sarajevo’s PostDayton Generation Text by Lana Pasic and photos by Nemanja Pančić

Young people, who live divided between Sarajevo and East Sarajevo, discuss their individual dreams and their common futures, twenty five years after the collapse of Yugoslavia.

During the 1980s, the famous Sarajevo-based television show Nadrealisti (The Surrealists) entertained the citizens of Yugoslavia by mocking the rise of nationalism. One of their sketches, which was set in the future, depicted a division of Sarajevo into “East” and “West.” Years later, this incredible and absurd prediction became a reality: Sarajevo, a former symbol of unity, coexistence and multi-ethnicity during Tito’s time, was split in two. The madness of the Yugoslav Wars tore apart Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H, Ed.), along with its citizens and the streets of its capital. Although the Dayton Peace Agreement, signed at the end of 1995, stopped the conflict, it also divided Bosnia into two entities—the majority-Serb Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat Federation. This separation of state is also reflected in the partition of its main city: There is East-Sarajevo in the Republika Srpska, and Sarajevo, capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the Bosniak-Croat Federation. Today, if you walk through Sarajevo, sit in one of its many buzzing cafes, go out for traditional ćevapi, hike

the many surrounding green hills, or visit the sites of the 1984 Winter Olympics—which Sarajevans in both parts of the city are very proud of—you probably won’t notice the difference. Although the central parts of Sarajevo seem more lively and crowded than the streets of East Sarajevo, people regularly move from one place to another, commuting to work and doing their shopping in the many malls that have sprouted in the city centre and on the outskirts in recent years. Although an administrative border exists between the areas of East Sarajevo and Sarajevo, there are no tangible dividing lines or barriers—there are only the somewhat neglected road signs signalling your entrance into a different “entity”. Unlike Berlin, which used to be physically divided in two by a concrete wall, the partitions in Sarajevo are more subtle and mental—young people on both sides are divided by separate ethnic-based educational systems as well as different political and social influences. However, in reality they have much in common, especially in terms of a shared future. 13


Ahmed, 20 from Sarajevo Ahmed is an Economics student and President of the Bosnia & Herzegovina Youth Press Association. Intelligent, eloquent and enthusiastic about his work, he believes that young people today can make a difference in Bosnia.

“I want to be an entrepreneur - I believe this is the only way to be prosperous in Bosnia. But entrepreneurship is stigmatised in our society. Our parents want to us get stable jobs, not to venture into something on our own. Our educational system does not really encourage us either. We have a very high rate of youth unemployment - 60%, which is causing massive brain drain; some 150,000 young people have already left B&H since 1995. They leave to study or work abroad, and they usually do not come back. This is disappointing, because there are many opportunities here, many underutilised resources. 14

Young people just need to get out of their comfort zone and try something new. Of course many things in B&H need to change, from transport infrastructure, economy, and our constitution, to our attitude towards the environment. We need high-quality education and all the rights associated with that, as well as practical skills. I hope that through my engagement in the media and the economy, I can create opportunities for other young people and give at least a small glimmer of hope to my society.�


Dobrica, 20 from East Sarajevo Dobrica just completed his military training. Although he trained and worked in the IT sector, he believes that the Army will offer him better opportunities. Ambitious and determined to build a better future for himself, he is happy with what he has accomplished so far, and is already setting himself new goals for his education and career.

“I spent months preparing for the examination, and I went through numerous assessments and interviews before joining the program. Military training was tough— the first few days were especially difficult—but it was all worthwhile. Just like other young people here, I want a normal life, health, and stability. It isn’t true that young

people in B&H are lethargic and lazy. We want to work, but we know there are great inequalities in our society that limit us. There are few opportunities, and there is a lot of corruption, which affects our drive and motivation. Young people need to be more persistent and have strong wills to achieve their goals.”



Adi, 24 from Sarajevo Adi is a Master’s student of Criminology and a volunteer with Unicef and the local NGO, NARKO-NE. We met him in his neighbourhood of Dobrinja, a part of the city on the invisible “border” between Sarajevo and East Sarajevo. Friendly, outspoken and actively involved in his community, Adi wishes his society would provide fair opportunities for all children and young people.

“ When I started my studies, I wanted to work in politics and conduct research on crime prevention. But the older I get, the more aware I am of my society and its many challenges, such as corruption, nepotism and lack of transparency regarding employment in the public sector. The system is rotten, and there are limited opportunities for young people. Volunteering opened a world of new opportunities for me. This year I want to volunteer abroad so I can learn more, so that I can contribute to 16

my community, my peers and future generations when I come back. Young people from B&H should travel more, learn about how things function elsewhere, and discover what we’re lacking here in terms of security, richness of life, diversity, quality education and opportunities to express creativity. I have faith in young people here; we have the potential to make positive changes because we’re looking ahead, not focusing on the past. ”


Sonja, 21 from East Sarajevo Sonja is a Law student in East Sarajevo. She is friendly and keen on travelling and learning from different cultures, but her main concern is also whether she will find employment.

“It’s difficult to live here if you don’t have a good job; there’s a lot of poverty, the quality of healthcare is poor, and there are work-related stresses and existential life questions that plague us everyday. Many people have PTSD. Young people feel the effects of the Wars, too, especially if their parents teach them to be nationalists and not to interact with other ethnicities. I look at people as individuals, not as members of a particular

ethnic group. We need to respect each other and work together. I believe that individuals can change a lot. If we stress less, if we have hope and optimism, we will be able to make improvements. The biggest problems in our country are corruption, economic instability and unemployment. Yet, in spite of all these issues, I see myself having a future here because I love this country and its people. ” 17


Hajrudin, 20 from Sarajevo Hajrudin is studying to receive a teaching degree. Passionate about his chosen field, he runs Sarajevo’s Youth Council’s education program.

“My goal is to work with and conduct research regarding disadvantaged populations, refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons, Ed.), the Roma, and disadvantaged children. I plan to acquire my specialisation in Austria or Portugal, where I’ll build my knowledge base—considering we don’t have practical training programs in formal education—and then I’ll come back and use those skills here. I want to continue working with young people. There is a perception in our 18

society that young people are passive, but this isn’t true. Those who have formal positions may not be working as much, but members of civil society and individuals are putting a lot of effort into making a difference in their society. We just need more positive stories to be shared through the media, and we need to focus on good things and on having better opportunities, so that we can be motivated to push forward with our work.”


Jelena, 19 from East Sarajevo. Jelena is moving to Berlin with her family. She is energetic, mature for her age, determined, and eager to seize new opportunities.

“I never really thought about leaving, but this opportunity came at the right time. I don’t think it is going to be easy, but I’m excited to try something new, and I will receive a better education abroad. After learning German, I’ll probably study microbiology or economics. Opportunities in B&H are limited, and I wish people here had access to better education and more freedoms to pursue their interests. There is neither real democracy

nor rule of law, which has made young people feel disillusioned. We have a lot of potential, but it isn’t being used to its full potential; the government doesn’t facilitate opportunities for us. Young people don’t have enough work experience, which makes it difficult for them to get jobs in the first place, and even if they are creative, they can’t exercise this creativity because they lack the financial means to pursue their creative interests.” 19


Zlatan, 24 from Sarajevo Zlatan is a Psychology and Political Sciences student. His demeanour is very Zen-like as we talk about philosophy, his studies, and his writing aspirations.

“I recognise the shortcomings of my university, which is why I have always sought to volunteer and work during my studies in order to expand my skills. There is always uncertainty about the future, and that is the reason why people go abroad. There is a perception that we have no control over our lives and our environment. Young people often create negative narratives of the present, taking on the views of their parents and idealising Yugoslavia in the process. Reality may sometimes seem gloomy, but I believe that the possibilities are endless. I 20

hope to have the time, space, and resources to pursue my passions—writing, research, and psychology, and I wish for everyone else to have that same freedom. It’s important for young people to search within themselves first, to disconnect from the news and Facebook, to go to the library, to think and speak positively and then to see how their lives have gradually changed. We should look at our society from a wider perspective, with more humanity and empathy—only then can we recognise the opportunities we have right here before us. ”


Milan, 24 from East Sarajevo Milan is a Mechanical Engineering student. He used to be President of his university’s student association in East Sarajevo. Bright, yet uneasy about the future, Milan is fascinated with the Caucasus and is an avid football fan.

“I aspire to have a normal life—to graduate, get a job, and have a family. I’d like to work in mechanical engineering, but the industry here is weak and there are limited opportunities. In Germany there’s a lot going on in terms of my field, so I could work there, or with one of the foreign companies that have branches here. Young people in B&H are mostly thinking about their employment prospects, but there are also other issues that concern

us: politics, nationalism, low standards of living, and rising national debt. In order to contribute to our society, we need to educate ourselves, we need to learn something new every day, not just through formal education, but by exposing ourselves to different countries and cultures, music, sports and films—all these things will help us broaden our horizons.”


Croatia: Refugees Reloaded Text by Barbara Matejčić and photos by Matic Zorman During the Balkan war of the 90’s, thousands of Croat refugees were gathered along the Croatian-Serbian border. Today, the area is still a crucial hotspot for the EU migrant crisis: Thousands of Syrian refugees, fleeing the turmoil in the Middle-East, are passing through the camp of Slavonski Brod. There, former Bosnian refugee Lorena Franjkić helps 22 them on their journey towards a new life.

Slavonski Brod, Croatia - January 24, 2016 A member of the Croatian Red Cross gives instructions in Arabic to the newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers as they arrive to Slavonski Brod refugee registration center.


Slavonski Brod, Croatia - January 24, 2016 Lorena Franjkić poses for a portrait at the end of her shift as a volunteer in the refugee registration center in Slavonski Brod. Lorena was a refugee in the Bosnian war, now she is active as a volunteer, helping the refugees and asylum seekers on their way through Croatia towards Slovenia and other countries of the European Union.

Lorena Franjkić leans over a fence and dangles a plastic bag to the other side. A girl of four or five immediately pokes her head inside, working her way through its contents. As Lorena reaches lower to make the bag more easily accessible to the child, an inscription wishing “Welcome” becomes visible on her fluorescent orange vest. The girl emerges from the bag. She surveys the ragdoll monkey, which she has fished out, then frowns, throws it back in, and disappears into the bag again. After a brief commotion, a hand-holding a doll emerges from the bag, followed by the girl, smiling. Lorena is smiling, too. She doesn’t ask questions, as if it were quite normal that in a white tent, at minus one degrees Celsius, in a place that, only an hour before, the girl’s parents didn’t even know existed, a small being is choosing a toy from a garbage bag. “Hani,” the girl says, happily pointing to the doll in pink clothes. Other children approach, dig into the bag, take out teddy bears, plastic crocodiles, velvet monkeys. The girl reappears with another doll in her hand. “Who’s that?” Sandra asks in Arabic. Sandra’s father is Syrian, her mother Croatian. She has been helping the refugees ever since she fled Aleppo for Croatia. “Hani’s mama,” the girl answers, while her mother warns her that she should choose between Hani and her mother since they cannot continue their way with two dolls. “I’ll take care of them!” the girl exclaims and hugs the dolls firmly. 24

The girl is one of the 850 refugees who arrived by train in the afternoon of January 25, 2016 at the refugee transit camp in Slavonski Brod, a small town on the Croatian border to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is the border between the EU and the other European countries. The refugees travel from Serbia by train and stop in Slavonski Brod, where they are registered by the police before continuing on their way by train, first to Slovenia and then further, deeper into the Europe. Slavonski Brod is only a brief stop on their journey. The Croatian Ministry of the Interior, which is in charge of the camp, doesn’t give them much time to rest from their long and weary journey. However, the refugees say that it is the best-organized camp on the Balkan route. Lorena is distributing clothes from an assorted heap. A young man asks her for warm shoes. Men’s shoes are highly coveted, so there is scarcity. Lorena must lean over the fence in order to estimate whether he really needs a new pair of shoes. It doesn’t feel right when she is forced to judge over other people’s needs, but she has no choice: Someone might appear who really needs those shoes, and she won’t have any left. Her job sometimes consists of hard decisions, as she cannot help all those in need. But satisfaction prevails. There are the smiling faces of children, refugees raising their thumbs as they

Slavonski Brod, Croatia - January 23, 2016 Lorena is using her phone to chat and check news with other volunteers regarding the refugee influx in the Balkans. Lorena was a refugee in the Bosnian war and is now volunteer in the refugee registration camp in Slavonski Brod, where she helps the refugees from the Middle East.

shout “Very great!,” and messages from those who have finally reached their destinations. Lorena is a volunteer helping those refugees for whom Croatia has become a stop on their way along the Balkan route. As she is watching the children, Lorena cannot help but remember herself when she was not only their age, but also in their situation. She remembers the tanks and the uniforms of the UN Peace Corps, and the moment when she left the occupied town where she lived in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was in 1994, when she was barely four years old. She left with her mother for Germany on a refugee bus. Her father stayed and fought in the war. She remembers the toys she received, especially a monkey that she took along wherever she went, and a white clown, which is still sits on her work desk. “The only thing my parents ever say about the war is: ‘May it never happen again.’ It is only now, when I see these people, that I realize how difficult it must have been for them, and that it is probably why they never talk about it,” says Lorena. In 1997, they returned from Germany and settled down in Croatia, in a small Dalmatian town. In the early 1990s, Croatia received around 650 thousand refugees, mostly from the occupied Croatian territories, but also from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Around the same time, some 150 thousand persons fled Croatia. Two and a half decades later, Croatia faces another wave of

refugees. “Had I been older during the war, I would have been a peace activist. When this humanitarian crisis started, I knew that I had to help, since human lives are at stake again. I felt that this time I could do something.” When Hungary closed its border with Serbia in September 2015, refugees from the Middle East were left with a single option: to cross Croatia on their way to Western Europe. Thus, in mid-September, thousands of people started entering Croatia over the fields in villages along the Serbian border, where the population had similar memories from the war in former Yugoslavia, since the Serbian forces had occupied this area. Again we could see hundreds of exhausted and hopeless people walking with plastic bags in their hands. In villages along the border, the former refugees came out to meet the present ones, bringing them water bottles and their children’s clothes, while women offered them sweets and volunteers created hotspots where refugees could charge their cell phones. “When we had to leave our homes, we also needed other people’s help. That’s why we feel for these people who are currently fleeing,” says a woman from Tovarnik, the closest village to the border. 605 thousand refugees entered Croatia in the time since the migrant crisis began to when Lorena goes to aid the refugees in Slavonski Brod. Meanwhile, almost all of them have already left. Croatia is not a country 25

Slavonski Brod, Croatia - January 24, 2016 Sandra with a refugee children, who arrived to the refugee registration center in Slavonski Brod. Sandra, from Aleppo, fled the war in Syria to live in Croatia, where she now helps refugees and asylum seekers coming from the Middle East as a translator.

in which they would willingly choose to stay. Slavonski Brod is now the only place in Croatia with an influx of refugees. “Everyone wants to go to Germany. It’s just like that joke, where a Croat asks a Bosnian what he would do if the world were about to end, and the Bosnian answers: ‘I would take my wife and kids and off to Germany we go!” says a volunteer in Slavonski Brod. Croatia is not a country where young people like Lorena would choose to stay either. With its high youth unemployment rate, Croatia being among the top EU countries with the highest unemployment rates (third just after Spain and Greece), as many as 85% young people have considered moving abroad. The generations that grew up in a society marred by the traumas of war and stunted by meagre economic growth are now stuck in a prolonged economic crisis of increasing social inequalities. As for Lorena’s friends, many are studying abroad, just like she is—she travelled down to Slavonski Brod from Brno, in the Czech Republic, where she is enrolled in a joint sociology programme. She plans to continue her studies abroad, but she would like to return to Croatia afterwards. “I have spent a semester in Finland and it is easy to live a carefree life in such an orderly country, but I feel responsible for contributing to my own community. Croatia is my field of struggle,” she says. 26

We drive back to Zagreb. Lorena’s five-day volunteer shift has ended. We are listening to the news. The new, rightwing government has taken the place of the previous, left-of-centre government in Croatia. Lorena fears that closing the borders for refugees will be among the new government’s first decisions. She is afraid of nationalism and xenophobia gaining ground. The election campaign of the new government played a card that widened the ideological gap in the society. “Young people my age are more traditional and closed-minded than the generations before the war. They have grown up in an ethnically and religiously homogeneous Croatia, where they haven’t gotten used to people being different than them,” says Lorena. She still has hundreds of kilometres ahead of her before she reaches Brno, where the little clown is waiting for her that has comforted her over the past twenty years since she was a refugee in Germany. Soon she will return to Slavonski Brod to “welcome” once more the new refugees coming to Europe.

Slavonski Brod, Croatia - January 24, 2016 A silo next to the refugee registration camp in Slavonski Brod.

Tovarnik, Croatia - January 24, 2016 Train station in Tovarnik, which served refugees and asylum seekers coming from Serbia, to proceed their way through Croatia into Slovenia and other countries of the European Union. Thousands of refugees used this train station during the peak of the refugee crisis in September 2015.


1 Slavonski Brod, Croatia - January 24, 2016 Lorena Franjkić displays a paper with available shoe numbers for refugees who ask for a new pair of shoes. Lorena, once a refugee from the Bosnian war, works in the refugee registration center as a volunteer, providing refugees with new shoes, clothes and other logistical tasks.


2 Slavonski Brod, Croatia - January 24, 2016 An improvised cigarette shop and exchange office is set up in the refugee registration center in Slavonski Brod, where refugees and asylum seekers can legally buy cigarettes at regular prices and exchange money. 3 Bosanski Brod, Bosnia and Herzegovina January 23, 2016 Lorena Frajnkić poses for a portrait near the border of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Lorena, a refugee during the war in Bosnia is now active as a volunteer in the refugee registration center in Slavonski Brod. 2 4 Slavonski Brod, Croatia - January 24, 2016 Refugees and asylum seekers disembark a train to get registered in refugee registration center in Slavonski Brod. 850 refugees and asylum seekers arrived in Croatia on the daily train from Serbia on January 24. 5 Slavonski Brod, Croatia - January 23, 2016 Lorena, Sandra and Ali, volunteers in the refugee registration center in Slavonski Brod, are discussing plans for dinner in apartment where they live while on their shift.










1 Tovarnik, Croatia - January 24, 2016 A payphone at Tovarnik train station. 2 Slavonski Brod, Croatia - January 24, 2016 Refugees and asylum seekers disembark a train to get registered in refugee registration center in Slavonski Brod. 850 refugees and asylum seekers arrived in Croatia on the daily train from Serbia on January 24. 3 Tovarnik, Croatia - January 24, 2016 Leftovers of food and a garbage lays in one of the rooms at Tovarnik train station, where thousands of refugees crossed into Croatia and proceeded towards Slovenia and other countries of the European Union during the peak of the refugee crisis in September 2015.


4 Slavonski Brod, Croatia - January 24, 2016 A desk in the apartment of Lorena and Sandra, a volunteers helping in the refugee registration center in Slavonski Brod. 5 Slavonski Brod, Croatia - January 23, 2016 Graffiti reading ÂŤ The LegionÂť, as the supporters of the Brodski Sport Klub - Slavonski Brod Sport Club, call themselves is sprayed in a neighborhood of Slavonski Brod.



Coming Out in Kosovo Portfolio by Fisnik Dobreci

Lendi faces the challenges of being one of the first openly transgender teen in Kosovo. The discrimination of sexual minorities remains a sad reality in this very patriarchal society.




A nineteen year old from Pristina, Kosovo, Lendi was born female but lives and identifies as male. The fact that Lendi is one of the first openly trans individuals in Kosovo is a clear indication of the highly stigmatized circumstances the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, Ed.) community finds itself in.


While Kosovo, which celebrates in 2016 the 8th anniversary of its existence, struggles to stay afloat amidst the difficulties of establishing statehood and democracy. “Less important� tribulations - such as the ones faced by Lendi - are simply swept under the rug.




Lendi has taken direct control of his life and has found a place for himself in a society that has yet to embrace him. To make a living, Lendi works as a barista at a local rock café bustling with teenagers. In his spare time, he hangs out with friends and coordinates various activities at “QESh,” a local NGO promoting LGBTQ rights.


Montenegro : New Youth, Old Power Text by Jelena Kulid탑an and photos by Tomislav Georgiev 40

Youth tries to release stress on Friday night at „District“. Some are stressed from work, others because they do not have one: 30% of unemployed are under the age of 30. 41

Montenegro is the only country of the Western Balkans where civil war has never taken place - even though it did act as an aggressor, sending troops into neighbouring territories and committing war crimes. And that is not the only thing which makes the country exceptional: Unlike their peers in neighbouring countries, Montenegro’s youth hasn’t experienced a change in government for 25 years.

It’s an unusually quiet Sunday morning in Podgorica. The half-empty streets don’t signal the current political situation that has taken hold of the nation: Tomorrow, a vote of confidence will be held in parliament. Ilija Gajević, a student of languages and literatures, is convinced that the Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Ðukanović will remain in power, just as he has remained in power over the last 25 years. After meeting him in a park, in front of a statue of Petar II Petrović-Njegoš—the famous Montenegrin poet and ruler from the Petrović dynasty— Ilija says in a voice tinged with disappointment, “I wonder what Njegoš would think of us if he saw us now. Maybe it’s better we don’t know what he’d think.”

Who is Milo Ðukanović? Ilija hadn’t yet been born when Ðukanović began to pave the way for his political career. As a young member of Tito’s party, Ðukanović rose to the top of the League of Communists of Montenegro thanks to the anti-bureaucratic revolution of the late ‘80s. At the time, mass protests of citizens dissatisfied with the economic situation at the time began flirting with the idea of nationalism, which began to develop throughout the country, and forced the old party leadership into resignation. Their vacant seats were filled by Milo Ðukanović and his closest friends and allies. After the collapse of communism, the first parliamentary elections were held in Montenegro in December 1990. Not surprisingly, the League of Communists won with an overwhelming majority, and soon changed its name to the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS). Over the last 25 years, the Democratic Party has ruled Montenegro. Milo Ðukanović was first elected Prime Minister on February 15, 1991—his 29th birthday—making him the youngest Prime Minister in Europe. Ilija was born a year and a half later. Over the course of life, he hasn’t seen a change of government, despite having lived in a parliamentary democracy and having voted three times during past elections. “I’ve never once thought it possible to see a change of government,” says Ilija. Ðukanović has 42

assumed the role of Prime Minister seven times, and has served one term as President of Montenegro. Although he briefly stepped down twice to take care of private business affairs, he later returned to strengthen the DPS’s base. According to The Independent, Ðukanović is the 20th richest politician in the world. His immediate family is likewise very wealthy. The Prime Minister’s brother, Aco Ðukanović, is owner of Prva Banka (the First Bank)—the only financial institution that the state aided considerably, with 44 million euros, during the economic crisis of 2008. The Prime Minister’s sister, the successful attorney Ana Kolarević, was involved in the Montenegrin Telekom scandal. In 2005 the national telecommunications company was privatized under questionable circumstances. According to the findings of U.S. investigators, the Hungarian Telekom subsidiary bribed several Montenegrin officials with $7.35 million in order to purchase the Montenegrin Telekom subsidiary. Allegedly, among the bribed officials there was an attorney—the sister of the “highest government official.”

Access through Party Membership Cards Montenegro has a population of 620,000, among which 40,000 are unemployed. According to the Employment Agency of Montenegro, a third of the people under the age of 30 are unemployed. 28-year-old Aleksa Bečić, Chairman of The Democrats, the opposition party in Montenegro, points out that unemployment is a contentious issue in Montenegro. The primary reason for its prevalence, according to him, is the nepotism of politicians and widespread corruption within public institutions. “Our basic value system, the very backbone and foundation of society, has been broken. Quality, expertise, and education play a marginal role in young people’s success. In reality, getting a party membership card is what will grant them access and opportunity,” says Aleksa. But DPS’s rule of a quarter-century has been pockmarked by allegations of electoral fraud, according to local and international news sources. In 2013, a scandal leaked out and showed that the DPS

According to census, 45% population in Montenegro are Montenegrin by nationality. Near 30% declare themselves as Serbs

used state resources and public monies to buy votes in the 2012 parliamentary elections. “Remember [former Employment Agency director] Zoran Jelić’s famous claim . . .” asks Aleksa, “when he said during a party meeting that each member is worth 4 votes?” The State Prosecutor’s Office later responded that, “none of the participants committed any offence prescribed by the law,” so the case was never filed. Jelić’s wife, Vukica, later assumed the role of head of the same Employment Agency. Currently, Jelić is a DPS member of Parliament.

The DPS’s Army of Youth The DPS Youth Council is made up of around 15,000 members—more than the voters for some of the other parliamentary parties—making it the largest youth organization in Montenegro. Its hierarchical structure is the same as that of the early DPS, with 23 municipal boards and hundreds of local communities in which everyone has a role to play. Nikola Pešić, a 27-year-old graduate of managerial economics, is head of the DPS Youth Council. He wishes to have a successful political career, but knows he won’t be able to fill the shoes of his political idol: “There can only ever be one and only one

Milo Ðukanović. No one like him will ever again be born,” declares Nikola. When asked whether he would prefer to be part of a legislative or an executive body in the future, Nikola says he sees himself becoming a minister, but that, “I’m prepared to work wherever my party needs me and wherever my party believes I can contribute the most.” Unlike Ilija, Nikola doesn’t see anything controversial about the fact that Montenegro has been ruled by the same government for a quarter-century. However, he admits that compared with other European democracies, what’s been seen in Montenegro is out of the norm. “I am proud and honoured to be a part of an organization that has endured through turbulent times and managed to stay in power for so long,” Nikola says with a smile.

“You’ve had your fun, now pick up your things and leave!” The opponents of DPS sporadically organized protests, mostly motivated by national issues. Divisions between Montenegrins and Serbs have always been a hot topic, especially since the 2006 referendum, in which Montenegro voted for its independence from Serbia. 43

Culture club “Harlequin” described itself on Facebook as place where people come to drink beer, kill war, laugh at the odds and live their lives so well that Death will tremble to take them.

The DPS still uses these national divisions to overshadow real social issues. “Issues like domestic violence and violence against the LGBT community, for example, or salary rates and employee pension benefits, are considered less important,” states Aleksandar Novović, who had a very different picture in mind 5 years ago, when he started to organize student protests. Over the last 25 years, youth protests has reached the national level only once in 2011, when students demanded better educational conditions and opportunities. Several thousand demonstrators stepped out onto the streets, offering the hope of what may have become something similar to the Arab Spring. Aleksandar was at the front lines of the protests, together with his colleagues from the Faculty of Political Sciences. “The way it stood, students should have come out of their small worlds and demand more than just student benefits like cheaper food in canteens and free education. Students should have acted as citizens and shouldn’t have allowed themselves to be blind to other issues,” says Aleksandar. Their aspirations, however, were never fulfilled. Later it was revealed that the official student representatives held DPS membership cards. It wasn’t long after that that the idea of rebellion fell completely flat. “We were 44

essentially able to protest because the system allowed us to do so. But after a while they said, ‘you’ve had your fun, now pick up your things and leave!,’” Aleksandar believes.

A silent resistance to the system Aleksandar now lives in the suburbs of Podgorica with his father and girlfriend in a place called Mareza. He keeps goats, plans on getting chickens soon, grows vegetables, and eats primarily things he produced on his farm. “Regardless of how imaginative and creative we want to be, we can’t escape the framework the system has put in place. The system tells us what we can and cannot do.” He decided to defy the system by creating a life of his own in the country—a silent but persistent form of resistance to the system. Aleksandar started an urban garden project and invited people to plant and grow vegetables on his farm, a social initiative that’s free to the public. “The problem with today’s youth is their lacking willingness to take risks and be impulsive. People who want to be artists or travel the world can’t do so because, first and foremost, they have to be able to eat. So they give up their dreams

Youth at antiGovernment protest organized by Democratic Front, the biggest political alliance in opposition.

and ambitions, find menial jobs and make a series of compromises,” says Aleksandar. His former classmate, Ana Bogavac says she isn’t willing to compromise. She’s a journalist who recently earned a Master’s Degree in Politics and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She doesn’t have a permanent job at the moment, because she doesn’t want to work under the current standards of journalism in Montenegro. “What a large portion of the media publishes these days is not journalism, and I’m not willing to work and receive a salary to be what they consider to be a ‘journalist,’” says Ana resolutely. She believes the key to solving the problems in Montenegro is the education of new generations, which might make it easier for people to explore and make use of natural Montenegrin resources (fertile land, a beautiful coast, bauxite reserves). Ana proudly quotes her good friend Vuk Uskoković: “Over the past 25 years, the government has proven its inability to utilize these resources. The fact that a Mediterranean country that’s rich in natural resources is in such bad economic shape is the result of not only political greed and insolence, but also extensive ignorance and incompetence.”

A silent resistance to the system Meanwhile, Milo Ðukanović’s government has managed to win the vote of confidence in parliament. Despite the smaller coalition member SDP having revoked its allegiance to the DPS, Ðukanović prevailed thanks to votes from Pozitivna Crna Gora (Positive Montenegro, or “Pozitivna” for short, a center-left party, Ed.), an oppositional party, which has since disappeared from the political stage, but still holds parliamentary seats. Once again, political corruption has triumphed. “It’s become so obvious how they abuse the system, and the more we are aware of this, the opportunities to change things become greater,” says Ilija. “It is time to build a real citizenship in Montenegro.” The first opportunity for real change comes this October, when parliamentary elections are to be held. After being accused numerous times for electoral fraud, Prime Minister Đukanović offered the opposition four ministry positions as well as the vice presidency, in order to undermine the upcoming electoral process. It is the first time in Montenegro’s political history that the opposition has had a chance to take on a role in government. Maybe, come October, Ilija will see a change after all. 45





1 Aleksa Becic (28) with young members of his opposition party Democrats. Red tie is their trademark. 2 Bojana is ex journalist and civil activist. Her husband Nebojša works at Television Vijesti, one of the few independent media in Montenegro. Both represent “modern youth”. 3 Aleksandar Novović has several cats, dogs and goats. He made his own “playground” as silent but persistent resistance to the system. 4 Student Ilija Gajević believes society will be ready for change very soon, because everybody become aware how DPS abuse the system.


5 Nikola Pešić looks up to his role model Milo Djukanovic. Nikola become part of DPS when he was 18 years old. Today he govern party’s Youth Council with 15,000 members.




Belgrade: Dubai of the Balkans Audio by Marina Lalovic and photos by Jasmin Brutus

The Belgrade Waterfront project - a completely futuristic urban landscape on the banks of the Sava River and financed by Emirati millionaires - has strongly divided the citizens of the Serbian capital.

Hostess explains project detail to visitor in Geozavod where model of Belgrade Waterfront is located.

I was born in Belgrade in 1981 and belong to the so-called last generation of Tito’s Pioneers of Yugoslavia. In 2000, I was one of the hundreds of thousands of youths who decided to leave Yugoslavia to move abroad. Ever since then, I’ve been living in Rome, capital of [art and] beauty. Compared with my hometown, little to nothing at all has changed here in the Eternal City. Vračar the historical district of Belgrade where I grew up, which is famous for its small houses and green hills, has been completely reshaped with brand new tall buildings. Over the last 15 years, every time I came back, something had been changed, reshaped, demolished, reorganized, modernized. For many expats, scepticism and frustration about urban city changes are the very common. But a much bigger change has been taking place in the very heart of the city: the construction of the Belgrade Waterfront—the completely futuristic urban landscape, right on the banks of the Sava, will rise up towards the sky in its completed state by 2019. Costing a total of €3.5bn (£2.5bn), the project is being financed by Emirati billionaire Mohamed Alabbar.


Belgrade Waterfront will include the construction of a new business district, which will stretch over nearly 2 square km, including apartments and luxury premises, shopping malls, hotels, parks, a 200 metre skyscraper—the tallest in the Balkans—and the Serbian Champs Elysées”. The citizens of Belgrade are still divided about the project. Some see the Belgrade Waterfront as a necessary step for progress towards modernity in the Serbian capital; others are terrified by the prospect and danger of becoming citizens of the “Dubai of the Balkans”. Since 2015, civil unrest has been growing, with activists denouncing the project’s corruption and lack of transparency.




Slovenia: No Country For Young Men by Natasha Kramberger, Jelena Prtorić and Mirza Ajnadžić

Slovenia used to be considered “top of the class” in former Yugoslavia: In the ‘90s, while war was raging across the Balkans, the country developed a market economy in which many companies became privatised. However, since 2008 Slovenia has been struggling with an economic crisis, which has largely affected younger generations. In Maribor - formerly a town of the working-class - new ideas and political processes are blossoming, converting the city into a social and cultural laboratory. 52


After completing his studies in art history in Ljubljana, Simon Žlahtić, 28, returned to his hometown of Maribor and went looking for work at the job centre. The social worker glanced at him from across the table, and asked: “Do you speak German?” “Yes,” he said. “There’s nothing for you here. Go across the border to Austria—you’ll find work there.” Simon Žlahtić speaks not only German, but also English, French, Croatian, Latin and perfect Slovenian. He has a driving licence and an abundance of professional experience. He is a restaurateur, curator, and farmer. An expert in permaculture and vegan cuisine, it is just as easy to talk with him about industrial architecture in Yugoslavia as it is about indigenous plants. He knows how to bake pizza in wood-fired ovens and hot to shear sheep, and reads archival documents with great passion. Still, there is no work for Simon in Maribor. Statistically, he belongs to the 18.4% of people under 30 years old in north-eastern Slovenia who are unemployed—a statistical demographic released by the Statistical Office of Slovenia. And of those who are employed, 27.2% work abroad, commuting daily across the border into Austria.

Maribor, former ‘Yugoslavian Manchester’ in dire straits The city of Maribor, having approximately 100,000 citizens, is the second-largest Slovenian city, well known for its strong working-class. Due to its flourishing

industry, it was dubbed the “Yugoslavian Manchester” of communist Yugoslavia. The textile, metal, and car industries represented the pillars of the city’s social life for decades. Troubles began when Yugoslavia collapsed, and the city’s industries lost access to the Balkan market. From 1992 to 2009, 257 Maribor companies were closed and thousands of workers lost their jobs. Today, 16% of the local population live below the poverty line. “Most families have at least one family member working outside of Slovenia,” says Simon. “The proximity of the border provides a sense of security to many families and individuals. On the other hand, it doesn’t solve regional and city problems.” After the fall of the major industries in Maribor, everyone was pressed to find alternative means of earning a living, not just young people. Some people hoped that Maribor becoming the European Capital of Culture of 2012 would help boost the city’s image, thereby improving its tourism industry. Massive sums of money—21.9 million euros— were invested in cultural development and expensive theatre productions, concerts, and exhibitions. In total, more than 405 projects and 5,264 cultural events took place in the city. However, despite the 4.5 million visitors who came to Maribor that year, it had little effect on the economy. Frustrated, Maribor’s citizens become angry about the inefficiency and corruption of politicians, who seemed unable to tackle real issues. By the end of 2012, the mayor’s decision to install a large number of traffic control radars ignited a large wave of protests. Civil 53

disobedience later spread throughout Slovenia, where the general population was already fed up with the government’s ineffective policies and grim economic perspectives. “The economic situation here is bad. We are trying to resolve it by applying the “bottom-up” solution [through which workers, as opposed to executives, dictate the structures of their companies],” says social activist Karolina Babič. She is one of the founding members of CAAP (Centre for Alternative and Autonomous Production), which was established in 2011 and whose aim is to gather ecological and social ideas “under one roof.” By the end of 2013, Karolina was made aware of an abandoned, six-floor building at the heart of the city centre; what was formerly a pharmaceutical laboratory soon became the headquarters of her organization Tkalka (the Weaver). After thousands of volunteer hours, they turned this ruin into a shared office space, much like in Berlin or London. Facing a lack of life-long job stability, which had existed in communist Yugoslavia, many citizens of Maribor have turned to alternatives such as Karolina’s. “Europeans know of shared office spaces in the context of creative industries primarily. But Maribor doesn’t have enough critical mass for something like this,” says Karolina Babič. “At Tkalka, there are people from creative industries, but also people in technological fields, like bricklayers, machinists, biologists, and ecologists, among others. People from the Roma community also work here, in addition to people with PhDs in the sciences.” Today, Tkalka hosts more than 45 different organizations employing more than 140 individuals. The maintenance costs run between 60 and 70,000 euros annually, which members split evenly amongst themselves. “Most of the organisations and individuals live from the activities they perform here.” 54

Direct democracy and plenums But in the eyes of Karolina Babič, “social processes, such as plenums and direct democracy, are the most important legacy of the 2012 protests.” After the protests, the people of Maribor started to more actively participate in local political life, through a system of direct democracy relying on “plenums.” Plenums were directly inspired by the global “Occupy Movement” and the idea of horizontal democracy, with the aim of giving everyone the same power in the decision-making process. Starting in 2013, the citizens of Maribor began meeting in regular neighbourhood meetings, which were facilitated by “neutral” moderators. People jointly decide on public and mutual issues. Simon Žlahtić, who runs a farm with his friends, thinks that the image of Maribor as a place where nothing gets done and no one can succeed has changed since 2012. “TV Slovenija aired a story about the 2012 events in Maribor, saying that the people of Maribor responded to the lack of culture with culture. That isn’t true—we just wanted jobs. ” The slow reconversion of Maribor as a political experiment and a social laboratory in response to the economic crisis didn’t stop horizontal democracy. Since then, dozens of new social initiatives have been launched in the city. Many people have squatted in a large number of vacant industrial spaces, turning them into shops, cafes, and galleries, which today form the bedrock of life in Maribor. Besides having empty industrial spaces, Maribor is also known for its rural surroundings. Food cooperatives link small farmers with consumers in the city, creating new jobs in nearby rural areas and providing the city with locally and sustainably produced food. The cooperative Dobrina, which is also a part of Tkalka, has brought more than 60 small farmers together, each of which having

between 3 and 15 hectares of land, who now jointly sell their produce in food markets in Maribor, selling their products to hospitals, schools, kindergartens, and individuals. Dobrina’s shop is also a part of Tkalka. Anything from local varieties of carrots and apples, to bread, oils, and handmade wool socks can be bought there.

New economy is an organic process Marko Brumen, a cultural producer working in the public institution Narodni Dom, considers the flourishing of independent initiatives in Maribor to be a sort of “organic process.” Although the authorities still don’t apply the principles of direct democracy, progress is still visible. For instance, the municipality has established the first formal participatory budget. “The principal is simple,” says Brumen. “It is up to the local community to decide how a portion of their budget will be spent. Everyone can propose a project, which is put up to a vote. Citizens can have a direct impact on how public funds are spent, whether in the form of playgrounds, roads, or street lamps.” “Narodni dom” operates out of Vetrinjski dvor, the building in which the European Capital of Culture directorate formerly had its headquarters. Hidden behind its large medieval iron gates is a white two-storey building overlooking a cobblestoned inner courtyard. On the first floor, spacious, bright rooms house local NGOs, which rent their shared office spaces for the duration of three years at a time. Two art residences welcome Slovenian and international artists. Friday evenings, however, the streets of Maribor seem unusually empty. This is because, as some people tell us, “it’s winter” and, “the students haven’t yet returned.” Still, the city bustles to the sound of swing music in the Salon uporabnih umjetnosti (Salon of Applied Arts). Like most

of Maribor’s new initiatives, the Salon is also a sort of café, design shop, bookstore, and bar all in one, in what was formerly an abandoned space. A sign hanging above the café’s bar is all that is left of the casino that once existed here. Handmade bags, clothing, and books appear by the windows and on the shelves between tables. The Salon soon became the hotspot for local bohemians. On “swing night,” you can see older and younger generations dancing together. For the young, Salon is a new, hip place to socialise, for the older generation it is a place to “relive memories . . .” According to Miha Horvat, an independent artist and a member of the art collective Sonda, Maribor “has the potential” to become an art mecca. According to him, Maribor is just the right size: “I tend to say that Maribor is both too small and too big, because, although the city is small in reality, it has large ambitions”. The slogan “Maribor is the future,” which adorns a wall near Tkalka, is Sonda’s brainchild. Miha believes in this future. He explains how his project, GT22, grew out of an art project into an initiative bringing together eighty people in the fields of theatre, photography, radio, and visual arts. According to Miha, artists should be more politically involved, in order to create other similar initiatives in the future. “If I pay my taxes and give something to the state, then I want to feel empowered. Our industry has collapsed, but the people here are competent, our location is interesting historically, and all the art here, both amateur and professional, work somehow. I believe we need to keep following this path. In my mind, Maribor could be the perfect social laboratory.”


The Macedonian Women’s Revolution 56

Text by Zaklina Hadzi-Zafirova Photos by Tomislav Georgiev Interview by Muhamet Hajrullahu

Opposition protests of May 2015 in Skopje, in front of the Macedonian Radio and Television (MRTV). 57

Macedonia was once the most peaceful of the republics in the Yugoslav Federation. In the ‘90s, it left the socialist “kingdom,” having faced neither a single fired bullet nor civil unrest. In recent years, however, social discontents have been growing in Macedonia, leading to an unusual wave of uprisings in which women stand on the front lines. In 2013, hundreds of young girls and women took to the streets of Skopje to protest an amendment of the abortion legislation. In Tito’s Yugoslavia, it was enough to see a gynecologist to talk about abortion. Decades later, the Parliament moved backwards, rushing to pass a very restrictive bill on the termination of pregnancies. Although Macedonian women’s rights may have been at stake, the law finally passed. This was a real scandal for Savka Todorovska— the renowned President of the Union of Women’s Organizations of Macedonia. Todorovska recalls how women’s rights were better protected in the communist era. «For example, there was a Court of Associated Labor. If a woman’s rights were violated in certain sectors, she had the right to appeal and this court always helped her. When I look back I realize that Macedonian women had all the rights, but were not aware of that.” Today, women’s rights “exist only on paper,” she adds, “but in this capitalist system, employers only care about their own interests. Women are often disadvantaged, working nights and weekends, despite not being able to find childcare facilities that are open during these later work hours. Reconciling work with family was easier under the communist regime. Back then, a woman wasn’t allowed to work more than 8 hours, and could shorten her work hours to breastfeed her newborn child,” says Todorovska. Curiously, this cruel workplace discrimination is not reflected in politics. In 1991, there were only five female members of Parliament – now there are forty-two. According to the 2014 Annual Report of the Ombudsman, of the 108,848 employees in administration, 52% are men and 48% are women. But the number of men in managerial roles is higher than that of women, though there are more women with advanced degrees. The publication 20 Years of Independent Macedonia released by the State Statistical Office, states that there are more women with Master’s degrees and PhDs than men. Earlier in 2015, a huge scandal led 58

Red lipstick on riot shields; hugging police officers as a sign of non-violence. In 2015, Macedonia witnessed its first “women’s revolution,” as people called it, showing that the so-called “weaker sex” wanted to bring positive changes to society.

to one of the largest protests since the independence of Macedonia: the opposition accused Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his government of wiretapping over 20,000 Macedonian citizens and covered up the murder of a young man by a police officer in 2011. On May 5, violent clashes opposed activists to the police, with injuries on both sides. Demonstrators were later joined by thousands of citizens and members of other movements. They all finally united under one banner: Protestiram! Thirty-year-old Jasmina Golubovska became an icon of the May 5th protests when a picture of her standing in the crowd trying to kiss one of the police officers’ shields made the headlines. «We had been standing for almost five hours in front of the government», she recalls. «We had been constantly talking to police officers, persuading them to put the shields down. The police officer who stood in front of me was very angry. I asked him if I could draw a heart, he did not let me and threatened to arrest me. After some time trying to draw something, I asked if I could apply lipstick and afterwards I kissed the shield. Among other things, the whole crowd was looking for red lipstick to mark the blood that has been shed all these years,” she says. Golubovska studied in Italy, earned a Master’s Degree in Bologna and returned to Macedonia in 2009. She says she hasn’t stopped protesting since. “We call it a women’s revolution. Women bear the burden although misogyny is one of the tools used by this government to reduce women’s position and importance. It turned out that women are more courageous in answering tough questions, such as about the LGBT community, whose answers the public may not be ready to hear. Women have had to take on the role, since they were personally attacked,” says Golubovska. The way women took charge of the protest had never been seen before in Macedonia. They all use some very different “weapons”: they hugged police officers or kissed riot shields or linked hands in front of the police cordon. “Women were present at all major political protests,” says Uranija Pirovska, Executive Director of the Helsinki Committee of the Republic of Macedonia, who fought the restrictive new abortion law. “The fact is that I’m a woman, and the idea that I have to be at the back because of

my safety is simply no longer valid. On the contrary, women have shown that they are a relevant and equal segment when it comes to fighting against the regime.” For the minorities living in Macedonia, the problem of discrimination against women is even more acute. The Albanian minority, for example, represents up to 25% of the population in Macedonia, according to the 2002 census. According to Xane Kreshova, the head of the Women’s Forum in Tetovo, women are still not considered equal to men in the Albanian community. “When I came to Tetovo in 1983, women could not be seen in public; it was unthinkable to see women go to pastry shops to eat alone. While Yugoslavia still exited, Albanian women were not allowed to work,” says Kreshova, who was a housewife before becoming an advocate of the Women’s Forum. “Their duty was to marry, give birth to children, and care for the family.» Kreshova says the situation of Albanian women changed with the opening of the South East European University in Tetovo in 2004, when it became an “open city.” Kreshova thinks that education has changed the perception that Albanian women should stay at home. “I’m glad that women nowadays want to work,” she says. “Men also seek jobs for their wives. They want to live a better life and provide better living conditions for their children—except for maybe people living in rural areas». Mersiha Smailovikj, a thirty-oneyear-old human rights activist known for her assistance to refugees, has taken part in nearly all protests in recent years. “I think I should be active because there are so many problems in our society.” The starting point of her engagement was in 2007, when, as a senior student and Muslim woman, she was not allowed wear a headscarf for her national ID card photograph. “As I’ve been wearing a headscarf since 2005 and it was my decision, I did not take it off and said that it was my constitutional right. I called a press conference, and within a very short time, the law changed,” says Mersiha. “That was when I realized that our voices have power.”


A young woman shouts before a police cordon during a demonstration in Skopje on May 5, 2015.

Several thousand people protested outsid by the top op

de the government building demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who was accused pposition leader of trying to cover up the death of a 22-year-old who was beaten by a police member in 2011.

A young woman walk before a police cordon during a demonstration in Skopje on May 5, 2015.

In May 2015, protests occurred in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, against the incumbent Prime M

Minister Nikola Gruevski and his government. Several ministers, including the interior minister, had to resign.


“There is a dire need for women to be more present in the political life of the Balkan countries� Mimoza Kusari-Lila, 41, is the first and the only female mayor of Kosovo, elected in 2013. She has served as the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Kosovo and was Minister of Trade and Industry from 2011 to 2013. Before that, Kusari-Lila, who graduated with a MBA in Economics and worked in the private sector, was executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Kosovo.


Do you feel that there is a place for women in politics, in the Balkans? I trust and strongly believe that there is a dire need for women to be more present and decisive in the political life in countries of the Balkan region. They are still underrepresented and have great chances to improve the political scenery in their respective countries. With the gradually increasing participation of women in political life, we see another approach to political influence in the daily lives of people. Are you concerned by the discriminations women are still subjected to in Kosovo and in the entire Balkan region? I am more concerned about the public perception of women in public office. Most of the countries in the region have non-discriminatory laws but public perception is the one thing that needs to change about the expectations of women in politics. Every time a woman in office has higher exposure, public discussion tends to focus on her weaknesses, rather than on her strengths and values, whereas we cannot claim that there is the same scrutiny applied towards men in office. I want to believe that women will be more supportive of other women and this will mark a turning point in the positive public perception of women in public life.

What does feminism mean to you? I am a feminist, since I believe that women can perform as equally as men can. I am a feminist, as I support other women by believing in their ability to break the glass ceiling that is imposed on them. I am a feminist because I believe that without an advanced role of women in society, no society can move forward. I’m optimistic that changes are happening faster today than they were happening in the past in terms of gender issues. What is your opinion about the current political situation in Kosovo? What we live in now is one of the most difficult situations we have faced since the end of the war in 1999. The problem lies in the lack of solutions that parties present before the people of the Republic of Kosovo. Taking into consideration the arrogant decisions from the government and the opposition’s response with violent actions, there is little hope for a solution in the coming weeks or months. The current situation offers little hope for the socioeconomic problems, and, in general, Kosovo’s image is damaged. Failure to find a path towards dialogue, where parties sit at a discussion table and settle their differences, is costing the people of Kosovo and Kosovo’s image a great deal. 69

The Authors

Mirza Ajnadžić

Zaklina Hadzi-Zafirova

Muhamet Hajrullahu

Mirza Ajnadžić is a multimedia journalist, researcher, radio host, and video producer. He also co-authored several documentary films (Yugo-nostalgia, Theirs and Ours, and Bruce Lee Returns, among others), and in 2013, he directed his first documentary film, May 31st. In 2012, he co-founded the NGO “Center for Cultural and Media Decontamination” and is currently Editorin-Chief of its video production team. He is also an educator, focusing on educating the youth about citizen journalism.

Zaklina Hadzi-Zafirova lives in Skopje, Macedonia, and has more than 15 years of experience in journalism. In 2007, 2012, and 2015 she was awarded with recognitions by the Macedonian Institute for Media for various features covering pollution and corruption. She has written investigative stories for many domestic and foreign media outlets. She is cofounder of the Centre for Investigative Journalism (SCOOP-Macedonia). She is also involved with education and mentorships for journalists.

Muhamet Hajrullahu has been a Kosovar journalist since 1999. In 2005, he worked as an investigative journalist and researcher for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). As President of the Assembly of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), he produced TV documentaries. He was also the news editor for Kokhavision (KTV), the national TV station in Prishtina. Now he is one of the two main presenters of Jeta në Kosovë (Life in Kosovo), the most popular and cutting-edge TV show in Kosovo that covers current affairs.

Natasa Kramberger

Jelena Kulidžan

Marina Lalovic

Natasa Kramberger is a freelance author from Slovenia who is based in Berlin. She writes narrative reportages and essays, and is the author of three novels. Her first novel (2007) received the EU Prize for Literature, and has been translated into 10 languages. In 2009, she established the NGO Zelena centrala, where she explores the questions of social ecology. In 2014, she published a collection of reportages about Berlin & Havana  and founded another cultural network, Periskop.

Jelena Kulidžan has been living in Podgorica, Montenegro since 1992. She graduated journalism and for the last 10 years has been working as a TV journalist and correspondent for foreign media. Jelena has experience as a reporter, news editor and presenter. As recipient of Balkan Fellowship For Journalistic Excellence Programme in 2010, she received second prize for a feature covering low sentences of rape in Montenegro.

Marina Lalovic is a Serbian journalist and has been living in Italy since 2000. She worked as a correspondent for a Serbian daily Politika, as well as for the Serbian radio and television station B92. She is currently working at RAI (Italian national broadcasting company), where she hosts Radio3Mondo, a radio show focusing on news from around the world, international press reviews, interviews, and on-the-spot reporting.


Barbara Matejčić

Lana Pasic

Jelena Prtorić

Barbara Matejčić is an award-wining freelance journalist, editor, and researcher who focuses on social affairs and human rights. She writes regularly for Croatian and international print and online media, and produces radio features. She was awarded for the best coverage of LGBT issues in the last decade in Croatia (2000-2010); was winner of the 2013 award for promotion of peace, non-violence and human rights; and won an award as best print journalist in Croatia in 2014. Her non-fiction book ‘How are you’ about marginalised groups of people was published in December 2015.

Lana Pasic is a freelance writer and development consultant from Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. She holds Master’s degrees from the University of Oxford and University of Trento, and a Bachelors degree from University of Pretoria. Lana is a regular contributor and Bosnian Editor for Balkanalysis. She has also worked in research and development in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, UK, and Tanzania. Her recent e-book, 20 Years After Dayton, is available on Amazon.

Jelena Prtorić is a freelance journalist from Croatia, largely reporting from southeastern Europe. She holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from Sciences Po journalism school in Paris, and has worked for various print, web, and radio outlets in French, English, and Croatian. She spends much of her time writing her own works, reading long-form journalism, and translating graphic novels.


The Photographers

Jasmin Brutus

Fisnik Dobreci

Tomislav Georgiev

Jasmin Brutus is documentary photographer who lives in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has worked as a photographer for a number of major domestic newspapers and magazines. His works have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Le Monde Diplomatique, Het Parool, Le Temps, Le Pelerin, and Monocle. He has received several grants, including Ex-changes, sponsored by the German government, and SEE New Perspectives, sponsored by World Press Photo and the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

Fisnik Dobreci began his photography career in 2005 at the daily newspaper in Kosovo. Later, he became a contributor for the The Guardian and for the Associated Press. He participated in collective photography exhibitions around the region. In 2009, he was honoured with the “Gjon Mili” award. In 2015, he, along with 15 other participants from across the former Yugoslavian region, was part of the Noor Images master class for documentary photography in Belgrade, Serbia. Dobreci is currently a freelance photographer based in Ulcinj, Montenegro.

Tomislav Georgiev was born in Bitola, Republic of Macedonia. He started working professionally in 1998 in several student newspapers and continued working as a photo journalist and photo editor for the weekly magazine Fokus weekly. His work has been published in many prestigious newspapers, including Le Monde, Sunday Times, and The Financial Times. He is a UNICEF photographer for Macedonia and his work has been often exhibited and awarded on numerous occasions.

Nemanja Pančić

Matic Zerman

Nemanja Pančić lives in Belgrade, Serbia. He is the cofounder of the www. collective. After receiving an education in filmmaking, he switched to photography and photojournalism. His work is published in various media outlets, such as Monocle, The Wall Street Journal, Politiken, Neuer Züricher Zeitung, The Economist. He attended the “SEE New Perspectives” master class for professional photographers, organized by World Press Photo. He has received various awards. Most notably, he won 1st place in the World Press Photo competition for his portrait, «Little Survivor» in 2013.

Since documenting the aftermath of Palestinian-Israeli conflict in Gaza for the first time in 2010, he has focused on unveiling the humanitarian issues that remain hidden in one of the most reported conflicts in recent history. In 2013 he was invited as emerging talents by Getty Images; in 2015 he attended the Noor-Nikon master class in Belgrade. The same year, he received a World Press Photo Award for his striking image of a child covered with a raincoat, while waiting behind bars at a refugee camp in Serbia. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The Independent, National Geographic Slovenia, among others.


The Editors

Editor-in-Chief Prune Antoine

German editor Julia Korbik

Concept - Fund raising Sébastien Vannier

As an independent journalist, Prune has been based in Berlin since 2008, after having lived in England, Spain, Budapest, Brussels and Paris. Her reportages, which have received many awards, feature the aftermath and the contradictions of the Post-Soviet world and have appeared in Le Monde, Geo, Madame Figaro... Travelling from Central and Eastern Europe to Russia, Caucasus or Balkans, she focuses on social issues relating to women, communist heritage and conflicts. Her first book “La Fille & le Moudjahidine” was published in France in June 2015.

Based in Berlin as a journalist and author, Julia mainly writes about feminism, politics and culture. In 2014 her introduction to feminism for young women Stand up – Feminismus für Anfänger und Fortgeschrittene (Feminism for beginners and experts) was published with Rogner & Bernhard Verlag. Julia is an active member of the Cafébabel Berlin team and vicepresident of Babel Germany. She is also heads Cafébabel’s gender column «Mind the Gap».

Sébastien Vannier is a french journalist working as a correspondent in Germany for French media such as the daily newspaper Ouest-France since 2007. He published “Les Allemands décomplexés” (2015) and “Berlin, Laboratoire d’innovations” (2016). He is president of the association Babel Deutschland e.V. and was in charge with the Berlin team of the conception and the fundraising of the project Balkans&Beyond.

Art director Giulio Zucchini

Art director Mathieu Mercuriali

Giulio Zucchini is an Italian-French journalist, communication expert, and photographer. He likes everything ending with .com, trains and data.

Mathieu Mercuriali graduated in 2002 with a “Diplôme d’Architecte DPLG” from the Ecole d’Architecture de Paris-Malaquais in France before obtaining a PhD in architecture from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. He teaches at the Ecole d’architecture ParisMalaquais.


Acknowledgments We would like to thank Christiane Lรถtsch, Stefano Lipiello, Katharina Kloss, Anthony Papadimitriu and Alice Cases for their help and support in assembling the reportage project, the Cafebabel network, Jan Zappner, Jeton Neziraj for his beautiful preface, as well as our GREAT authors & photographers for their fantastic contributions to our online magazine. We would also like to thank Michael M. Thoss and Susanne Hauer from the Allianz Kulturstiftung who made this reportage project possible through their financial support.


This project was launched by Babel Deutschland e.V. and supported by Allianz Kulturstiftung & Babel International. Babel Deutschland e.V. Liebenwalder strasse 34 a 13347 Berlin Balkans & Beyond Š Cafebabel Berlin Illustrations Š Giulio Zucchini

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