General Director: Aristodimos Paraschou Human Resources: Olympia Datsi Press Officer: Korina Branioti Managers: Matteo Scarpa, Jelena Vujanovic Editor in Chief: Diego Dominguez Garcia Subeditor: Kristin Kindermann Authors of the issue: Anthoula Chatzidionysiou, Badri Pataraia, Diego Dominguez Garcia, Doruk ışıkçı, Ignacio Prados Ansede, Kristin Kindermann, Maria M Petkova, Necdet Burak Ozyurt, Olga Karageorgiou, Şeyda Aydın. United Societies of Balkans is a Non Governmental Organization, founded in Thessaloniki in 2008, by a team of active young people. The organization was created as a response to the pressure of constant changes in the Balkan and Eastern European region and under the need for the creation of a better social environment. Key areas of the organization’s activities concern the defense of human rights, the organization of youth exchanges and training courses, which will bring young people from Balkans and Europe together, the organization of local educational seminars and multimedia production (web radio, videos, documentaries). Main goals of the organization: -To promote the values of non formal learning, volunteering, active citizenship and democracy for the creation of a better future for European youth. -To promote human rights, solidarity and respect for diversity. -To build healthy cooperation
bridges between countries of the Balkan area and that of Eastern Europe with the rest of Europe. -To locate and multiply the special cultural attributes of our societies. -The break down of prejudices and stereotypes between Balkan countries. United Societies of Balkans, Alamanas 9, Agios Pavlos, 55438, Thessaloniki (GR) (+30) 2310 215629 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org / Radio: www. usb-onair.gr / Facebook: United Societies of Balkans / Twitter: @USBngo / Youtube: United Societies of Balkans NGO The volunteers responsible for this publication are hosted in Greece in the framework of the European Youth in Action programme, Action 2 European Voluntary Service. This project has been funded with support from the European Commision. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commision can not be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
INDEX CULTURE Riccardo Rossi “A Silent Witness from the Orient” Diego Domínguez García “Carnival” Diego Domínguez García & Ignacio Prados Ansede “Judeoespañol and Jewish Past in Thessaloniki” Ignacio Prados Ansede “Freedom of Press in the Balkans” Doruk Işıkçı “Turkish TV Series in Greece” Şeyda Aydın “United Music by Aleksandra Radonjic”
3 7 11 15 21 25
FACES Kristin Kindermann “Crossing Borders” Anthoula Chatzidionysiou “My Experience as a TEDx Volunteer” Necdet Burak Özyurt “Paris” Olga Karageorgiou “A Great Experience”
27 31 35 37
MULTICULTURAL KITCHEN Diego Domínguez García “Sangria, a Bloody Sip” Kristin Kindermann “The Balkan Supper”
TIPS FOR TRIPS Diego Domínguez García “12 Hours in Istanbul” Maria M Petkova “Sophia”
A SILENT WITNESS FROM THE ORIENT
Almost a century ago (1915 1918) the allied forces created a meridional front ( well known as Salonika front) in order to arrest the march of Bulgarian - German army toward Serbia. The British power sent to Thessaloniki its army, which was also composed by the Indian colonial troops. All the Indian soldiers who died during the campaign were buried in the graveyard of Monastir Road Indian Memorial (Thessaloniki), as well as the others allied
servicemen, i.e. French, Russians, Italians, and Serbs, were buried in another cityâ€™s cemetery area called Zeitelnik. All these military cemeteries represent a reminder of all the people who sacrificed their lives in Salonika campaign, and they also form an integral part of the long and eventful history of Thessaloniki. Monastir Road Indian Memorial graveyard is situated in Dendropotamos, a suburb three kilometers far away from Thessaloniki, and it is near to the
Military Allied cemeteries area of Zeitelnik. The Indian cemetery belongs to the Committee of the Commonwealth Military Cemeteries and it is tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which still has a registry with many useful information about the soldiers such as names, and even the cause of death of the deceased. In Greece there are others military cemeteries where Indians from the first and second world wars are buried, such as
Moudros (east part of Limnos, where 64 Indians buried in 1915-1919), Rhodes (8 people), Stroumna (2 people), Doirani (1), Faliro (140 people), and the monument of Athens (56 people). A notable thing about Greek Indian cemeteries is the fact that India found a a kind of religious unification only outside its borders. The graveyard in Thessaloniki was built during 1916-20 and its structure is something unique compared to the other ones in
the city. It is split in two parts: in the southern plot there are burials, whereas in the northern one there is a memorial with panels containing the remains of 200 soldiers who were cremated, as the Hindu tradition demands. Overall, Monastir Road Indian Memorial bears 520 Indian soldiers, thus classified according to their religion: 384 Hindus, 107 Muslims, 26 Sikhs, and 1-3 Christians. More precisley, according to the Commonwealth War Grave Commission data the Hindu was the majority of the Indian troop servicemen (74%), whom a 20% of the fellows belonged to the lowest caste Hindus, while the minorities were represented by Sikhs (26 people who served in the army as soldiers or drivers in the Punjabi units), Muslims who were 20% of the overall dead, Christians, and 31 Gurkha soldiers from Nepal. Back in the past many people from this country decided spontaneously to join the British army, even though they have never been ruled by the United Kingdom. The Gurkha unit is still a proud of the British army, and they are well known all around the world for their military prowess. However, data also confirm that Indian troops consisted in Mountain Artillery such as 24th Punjabs, 10th Jats, Bhopal Infantry, and 6th Gurkha Rifles. These units were assisted by a southern one called 80th Carnatic Infantry. The Indian army used only mules to transport the weapons, and many Hindi lower caste people were implied to do groveling and manual works such as water carriers, bearers, sweepers, laborers, washers, cooks, grooms, carpenters, blacksmiths, saddle makers. All these jobs are easily identifiable on the graves inscription, as the British put on them Hindi words such as dhobi, bhisti, langri, khalasi, syce, jamadar, sepoy,
lascar. Indeed, all the Indians who belonged to the lower castes were not even considered as part of the army. The Salonika campaign started in October 1915 when a combined Franco-British force composed by two large brigades was sent to Salonika, after the Greek Prime Minister had called on their aid. The purpose of the expedition was to help Serbians in stopping the German-Bulgarian advance, but the allied troops came when the Serbian army was already defeated. From October 1915 to the end of November 1918, the number of the British Salonika Force losses amounted to 2,800 deaths in action, 1,400 from wounds. The Salonika front was a fierce war zone, in which 4,200 people also died for diseases such as malaria, and so on. As far as concerns Indians people, instead, they were most likely immune to the malaria, therefore in many cases the cause of their decease had to do with the illnesses related with the cold weather, e.g pneumonia, pleurisy, and tubercolosis, as it is often mentioned in the data under this definition â€œdied of sicknessâ€?. Monastir Road Indian Memorial graveyard is a useful point both in connecting two countries to their past, and in showing how much they have been relations throughout the history. In actual fact, from Philip and Alexander the great era, Indians have always contributed actively, until the recent world wars, in helping Greece and Europe for their misfortunes This silent witness reminds us the sacrifice of Indians who fought for the freedom of Macedonia from Bulgaria, perhaps without not even knowing in which part of the world they were.
ANGEL IN DISGUISE
Carnival is one of the most well known global festivities. Although it is supposed to be a pagan tradition among Catholics cultures, everyone celebrates it with big worship. Although the Carnival season lasts for 6 weeks, the main activities are held this year on the first weekend of March. If you are willing to celebrate it here in Greece, you can find four very interesting festivals: RĂŠthymno (Crete), Xanthi (West Macedonia and Thrace), Kozani (West Macedonia) and Patras (Achaea). All of them are a good option. So take notes and get ready for some fun.
The Carnival of Patras This festivity is the largest one among its pairs in Greece. This city, located in the Peloponnese, hosts parades, balls and contests among children, adults and groups. Its main characteristic is the burning of the King´s Carnival. It starts on Saint Anthony´s day (January 17th) and lasts until the Clean Monday. It includes the Children Carnival; the Saturday Night Parade, where all the adults and groups with their best disguise and floats join the streets; and the Closing Ceremony, when they burn the float of the Carnival King, a huge party with fireworks, concerts and lot of fun. The Carnival of Rethimno This huge Carnival is held in Rethymno (Crete) last for one month. It starts the 1st February and finishes the 3rd March. During the last weekend, you will find Cretan traditional serenades all around the city, parties in most of the cafés, activities in the museums and also the traditional parades on Saturday and Sunday. The last day (Monday 3rd) you will enjoy in the morning of traditional events as, for instance, kite flying, degustation on bean soup and the traditional insult dispute. Do not miss it! The Carnival of Xánthi Although this one is not that common or well known, it is worthy to enjoy. This city in Northeste Greece is famous because of the richness of its traditions and culture due to the contact with Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey. During the two central weeks of this carnival, you will enjoy many concerts, artistic exhibitions and traditional nights like the Burning of Tzaros. Nevertheless, the most important events of the carnival are the parades. The three biggest ones
are the Folklore Parade “Tora pou stisan oi xoroi”, the Night Carnival Parade and the Great Carnival Parade on Sunday. The Carnival of Kozani This carnival proposes us one of the most traditional ones in Greece. Here we can find the Fanoi, big bonfires lit in the squares. In addition, people start to dance around local songs and dances, like the Enteka of Kozani, also known as the Kozani´s national anthem. So, here you have four interesting options to choose the Carnival that best fits you. So, do not hesitate, do not be ashamed, dress yourself up and enjoy with your friends in disguise.
JUDEOESPAﾃ前L AND JEWISHPAST IN THESSALONIKI
Thessaloniki has a lot of history running through its streets, but one thing that not so many people know is that the city was given the honorary title of â€œMother of Israelâ€? after the huge immigration of Spanish Jews that were expelled by the Catholic Kings. This massive group of Jews received the name of Sephardic, derived from the Hebrew name to Spain, Sepharad, and they settled mainly in the North of Africa and in the lands of the Ottoman Empire, especially in Thessaloniki, Izmir and Istanbul.
hessaloniki transformed itself with the arrival of this Jewish population, starting a new stage of coexistence among the Turks, the Greeks and this new inhabitants that settled the lines of what was going to be Thessaloniki during more than four centuries. In this time, the main spoken language was neither Turkish neither Greek but the language the Sephardic Jews brought from Spain and received the name of judeoespañol (Judaeo-Spanish), preserving the Spanish language spoken in the 15th century with the addition of words from languages like French, Italian, Turkish and Greek. Unfortunately, judeoespañol is not spoken by new generations like it used to be. Ms. Erika Perahia Zemour, responsible of the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki, gave several reasons to this disappearance. One of them, and probably the most important of them all, was the fear of suffering another prosecution, so they made an effort to look as Greek as possible, including language and accent, but also the lost of importance of the language in an international level. However, there is still hope, as Ms. Zemour pointed out, because several universities around the world are studying and making researches on the topic. This is the case of Sorbonne in Paris or Columbia in New York, and there is still a huge interest in the language among the Jewish community as it can be seen in the fact that they still have a choir that performs in this language. Judeoespañol was also preserved in some cities of the lands of the nowadays Israel, where Thessalonian Jews settled during the 30s of the 20th century. These Jews were mainly uneducated workers who were not able to speak any other language and they did not learn Hebrew, what caused that
in present time there are still speakers of this language in cities like Tel Aviv or Haifa. Thessaloniki was not the only place with a judeoespañol speaking population due to the dispersion of the Sephardic Jews. One of their settlements was Izmir, which hosted a big community in the past that now only counts with a thousand of Jews. Oddly, Ms. Zemour mentioned that the Jewish community of Izmir used more Greek words while the one of Thessaloniki used more words from Turkish language. This Izmir community emigrated in huge numbers to USA where they did not suffer the Nazi prosecution and they could preserve their language more easily. Nevertheless, Sephardic Jews did not only bring the language with them when they fled Spain, they also took music and food that can still be traceable nowadays. For example, many books deal with the Sephardic cuisine even though there is not a single restaurant in Thessaloniki focused on this gastronomy. As well, music is still quite important for them like it has been mentioned before with the example of the choir but also the existence of singers like Yasmin Levy, Mor Karbasi and Françoise Atlan proofs that Sephardic inheritance is still alive. Another proof of the existence of the interest in keeping these roots is that Jews from all around the world are visiting Thessaloniki to rediscover their past. This is the case of Robert N. Kattan, a tax attorney from New York whose Jewish family was originally from Istanbul and Thessaloniki. A past that he is trying to recover travelling to both cities and learning more about the places his family was forced to leave. A situation that nobody should ever face again.
FREEDOM OF PRESS IN THE BALKANS
Freedom of press is one of the main standards used to classify a country as a democracy or not. The capacity and chances that journalists have in every country to cover the news as they want in order to unveil the truth about any topic tells much more about the real situation than its political structure, because media play a fundamental role in democracy: they control the political, economic and judiciary class.
Even though, we should not believe that every country is free of repression or censorship. For instance, even one of the oldest democracies of the world, United Kingdom, dealt recently with a scandal concerning a journalist and his investigation. David Miranda, partner of the journalist of The Guardian Glenn Greenwald and the interviewer of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, was detained in Heathrow for
nine hours, interrogated and even police border seized his hard disks. The Balkans, as a historically troubled region, always had a complicated relationship with the freedom of press. Both Greece and Turkey, former members of the capitalist block during the Cold War, suffered dictatorships and semidemocratic regimes that limited the freedom of speech, while the rest of the Balkans belonged to the communist bloc where
journalism was restrained and strongly controlled by the state itself. In the last decades, the situation has improved in every country, but with the arrival of the economical crisis this evolution has stopped and even gone backwards.
If you are asked which is the country that holds more journalists in prison you answer would probably be an authoritarian regimes like China, Iran or Uzbekistan, but the truth is that the correct answer is Turkey, a so-called democracy and worldwide example of a Muslim free regime. About 70 Turkish journalists are imprisoned as a result of their work, many of them because of being employees of different Kurdish media like Dicle Haber Ajans覺, a news agency with 27 of its workers under arrest. However, not only because of ethnic or nationalistic reasons journalists are being arrested in the transcontinental country, but also because of their political ideas and that is
what happened with journalists of leftist media such as BirG羹n or Cumhuriyet. Also, after the Gezi protests that shocked the country last summer, different Internet activists have been object of police prosecution. Furthermore, not only locals suffer from this repression, also foreign correspondents may face problems with the Turkish establishment, as for example Bram Vermeulen did, Dutch correspondent of the liberal newspaper NRC Handelsblad. After covering many sensitive topics of the country, he had been interrogated several times by Turkish officials and warned that his residence permit will not be renewed with no further explanation. All these facts and the huge restriction of Internet suffered
in the country make Turkey be ranked #154 out of 179 in the Reporters without Borders (RWB) Press Freedom Index becoming the target of much criticism worldwide and being one of the main obstacles for their acceptance in the European Union.
Home of different ethnics, this country has a huge lack in their freedom of press, something quite visible if you check its position in the RWB Press Freedom Index, currently #116 out of 179. According to Freedom House, the national constitution provides protection for freedom of expression, but government representatives do not uphold it impartially. In the last years, the laws have
been changed to encourage self-censorship raising the fines and to make more difficult the stay of foreign correspondents, including the requirement of the signing of an agreement between the foreign outlet and the state of FYROM. Apart from that, media are quite influenced by economical and political influences, which intimate the media workers. Furthermore, government and its allied media are extremely aggressive with critical journalists and news companies leading to the closure of several of them under the accusation of tax evasion and money laundry, as it happened in 2011 with three newspapers and a TV channel owned by the local businesman Velija Ramkovski, huge dissenter on the current government.
One of the youngest countries in the world, Montenegro, faces several problems regarding freedom of press even though the protection of it is guaranteed by the national constitution and the cases against journalists in court have declined these last years. Independent journalists still suffer from the pressure of government and businesspeople and the reports from both public and private media often lack objectivity. The Prime Minister of the country, Milo Đukanović, has even stated that the arrest of “media tycoons” would help Montenegro to access the European Union, a statement that has received critics from different organizations, media and the EU itself. The physical integrity of journalists is also in risk in Montenegro, where several journalists have been target of aggressions just because of their work. The most serious of them was the one suffered by Vijesti journalist Olivera Lakić, who was beaten near her home in March
2013. She had previously received several threats because of her articles detailing the alleged involvement of police officials in the illegal cigarette trade. A court in July found 29-year-old Ivan Bušković guilty of carrying out the attack and sentenced him to nine months in jail; however, authorities are still investigating whether he was acting under someone else’s orders.
On the one hand, Albania’s main problem regarding freedom of press is that the local media are quite influenced by political and economical factors leading to very strongly biased reports. On the other hand, law does not contemplate any prison sentence for journalists, leaving just fines as punishment and a recent change on the Civil Code sets limits on them in order to guarantee media’s survival. Like in many of the surroundings countries, Albanian public TV is accused of being strongly in favour of the government political views, reporting news in a way that is always positive for the ruling political party and avoiding any kind of criticism. One of the biggest scandals of the last years in the country was the lack of any kind of information on the demonstration lead by the Socialist Party against the Conservative Cabinet. Some of the deputies were holding a hunger strike and the workers of the public television went to cover it, where they were not welcome and even kicked out by party bodyguards. Having a look at the RWB Press Freedom Index, we can check that Albania ranks #102 out of 179, just behind Lebanon and Georgia.
In Bulgaria, defamation is punishable and government officials have filed suits against journalists, although judges usually sentence in favour of press freedom. In June 2012, a group of banks took to court a news website after this media proved illegal and corrupt practices in the banking system. The suit was presented under a special statute of the Bulgarian law that allows the National Bank to take actions in case of fake and harmful information for the banks of the country, but finally this institution did nothing about it. In 2011, the Bulgarian parliament approved a law that outlaws the instigation of hatred, discrimination or violence based on race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, marital or social status or disability. Despite this attempt, different organizations criticized the law for not specifying what discrimination is, turning the law quite useless. However, we should not only check the public State in order to find out the degree of press freedom of a country, also the political environment is essential for it and Bulgaria has suffered from certain episodes during the last months that are evidence of the difficulty of the journalistic work in the country. For instance, the far-right party Ataka claimed an attack on the public TV broadcaster, BNT, which they occupied during several hours without being able to take control of its programming.
In Kosovo, a weak judiciary that is not considered to be fully independent and an underdeveloped civil society present big obstacles to media freedom in this newly selfdeclared country. In addition,
there is quite a big political interference in both public and private media, including verbal threats and obtrusion on reporters’ work. Many of the journalists who criticize the government are often accused of treason or of being Serbian sympathizers and the media that are against government are threatened with tax investigations or blocked from accessing public information. For instance, Arbana Xharra, deputy editor-in-chief of the independent daily newspaper Zeri, is being sued for linking in one of her articles the Prime Minister with certain businesspeople, accusing them of supporting financially the campaign of the politician in exchange of very lucrative tenders. After publishing this, one of the businesspeople sued her and asked for 700.000€, as economic compensation, and the case was accepted by the judge and taken into court. During the trial, another journalist of the same newspaper made a report on it and she was also sued by the same man, asking for another compensation, in this case of 300.000€. Another example of censorship and pressure on media is the one suffered by the employee of the magazine Kosovo 2.0 who was beaten by a group of thirty people after their magazine focused on the LGBT community.
Probably the most advanced and democratic country of the area, Greece does not hold the title of the Balkan country with the freest press. Ranked #84 out of 179, Greece has declined in all the rankings because of the economic crisis that has lead the country to an increasingly hostile, legal, political, and economic environment for the press. In addition, a raise in intimidation of and attacks
against journalists; closures of, or cutbacks at, numerous print and broadcast outlets, coming to the current situation where Greece media environment has been reduced. The most famous and worldknown case of Greece´s restriction on press was the arrest and imprisonment of Kostas Vaxevanis after the publication of the Lagarde List, an index of Greek citizens responsible of tax evasion after moving their money to Swiss bank accounts. Religion is another sensitive topic in the country, as we can see with the arrest of a blogger that mocked a religious figure still respected by many Greeks under the charges of malicious blasphemy. And not only Greek journalists are threatened, in October 2013 Public Order Minister, Nikos Dendias, threatened to file a suit against the British newspaper The Guardian after stating that a number of demonstrators were tortured and abused in the police stations of Athens. However, the Minister retracted as soon as the newspaper proved its accusations were accurate. Nevertheless, without any doubt, the biggest scandal of the last years in Greece related to media was the shutdown of ERT, the public company of radio and television. The Greek Government, pressed by the troika (IMF, WB and EU), decided to close its public audiovisual media in order to save up some money and achieve the requirements set by the international institutions. The announcement arrived suddenly, not giving the workers or the parliamentarian opposition the chance to propose any alternative solution, what led to demonstrations all over the city and the opposition of the workers that decided to occupy the building of the ERT, starting pirate broadcastings.
Volunteer. Discover. Evolve.
TURKISH TV SERIES IN GREECE 21
Turkey and Greece haven’t had any important contact attempt at governmental level in recent years. Yet, their societies have been getting closer day by day. Moreover, having conflicts concerning political issues or the Aegean Sea does not have any negative impact on Turkish stance on TV. Turkey has gained quite some political and economical power recently, but it still has to struggle with some inner turmoil and international crisis though. Yet, it has an indisputable cultural power. Up to the current 32 Turkish TV series have been broadcast on Greek channels and if online rates were counted, this number would increase up to 45. Turkish film industry “exports” approximately 100 serials not only to Greece but also to the Balkans, middle east, Asia, East Europe, the North of Africa and even South America. The example of Greece with all the historical background is more interesting than others, exemplary and traceable in the field of sociology and political science. The popularity starting with Border of Loves (Yabanci Damat/ “Τα σύνορα της αγάπης”) in 2005 had a huge impact on Greece. Even after many years, the father, Kahraman, whose profession was baklava-making or the funny Turkish accent of the Greek family are still alive in many minds of the viewers. Once the series fulfilled the important role to use some funny stereotypes, people began to be aware of the irony and at the same time they realized some similarities. Yet, Turkish series were not broadcast neither in high number nor were they too popular. In these years, the popularity of Turkish series has increased in the Middle East. They had the chance to get involved in Greek channels due to the economic crisis in 2010.
Firstly, because of the economical issues, Greek people sacrificed their reputation of being party animals or night owls, and they began to spend their time staying at home watching TV. This fact created a higher demand while Greek film industry cost too much in order to supply Greek households with national series. Therefore, they sought to find alternatives. At the beginning, Latin American and Korean series were chosen but they couldn’t meet the expectations of the Greek population; so Greek channels decided on the Turkish series - despite the pressure of conservatives and nationalists which were cheaper, but at the same time had a high quality and were similar to Greek culture. But this popularity cannot be explained with the economic crisis only. It would be too naive. Even after years when the crisis will hopefully be over, Turkish series won’t lose their popularity on Greek channels. Although the women are the target audience, people from all strata, genders and ages are watching them. People do not only find modern and traditional features at the same time, but also family values and some nostalgia which they already know from the Greek melodramas of the 50s. People are totally familiar with that type of stories and see their own life in those series. Probably, due to the fact that the audience feels close to their own reality while watching, Greek people prefer the Turkish “Intikam/ Εκδίκηση” rather than “Revenge” produced in the USA. Thanks to the series, which are broadcast with subtitles and include the scenes from Turkey, the significance of Asia Minor, Pontus, Thrace and Constantinople is emphasised. It is obvious that a scene which shows a couple near the Bosporus while eating feta and drinking raki with a Greek song in the background, cannot be unfamiliar to Greeks. As a result, it is not a surprise that the number of tourists in Istanbul
has recently increased. Tourist guides now include Fatmagul or Ask-i Memnu house for their tours beside all the conventional landmarks. Because of those reasons, potential productions consider these features in order to be able to export series. Almost none of them touches the historical or political issues of the two countries in order to avoid eventual conflicts. Even if not many battle scenes are shown in Suleiman, people prefer to see palace plots, love stories or daily routine; if Ottoman war situations against some country are shown they will rather choose the Holy Roman German Empire, Malta or Safavid Empire as opponents instead of Balkan or Middle East countries. In addition, the best man of Suleiman, Ibrahim, is from Parga, which is in Greece. “Ezel” is a further example. He was shot in North Cyprus. Despite of many nationalist protesters, the final episode of “Ezel” got unexpectedly 68% of ratings. This year’s new serial “Sevdaluk” has already made first contacts with Greek Channels with its Pontus scenes and culture. In contrast, if the series have some extreme characters such as Greek bandits or prostitutes, they cannot be exported. For instance, “Fatih” (The conqueror of the Constantinople), the rival of Suleiman on TV and at the same time representing the Greeks, had some bad features, so that the series couldn’t be exported; moreover after 13 episodes, the project has been stopped anyway. On the other hand, Turkish authorities use the series’ impact as a soft power policy. This process is used in order to rebuild the Turkish image. The economical support of the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows how that policy is being applied. Thanks to this support, TV series take advantage of being bargain-priced against productions of other countries.
Recognizing the economic benefits and the soft power of soap exports, the Turkish bureaucracy is increasing its support. The Vice Culture and Tourism Minister Abdurrahman Arici announced that the ministry will help to get Turkish soaps shown in a number of countries, including Kyrgyzstan, free of charge: “With TV series we can enter every house and spread the influence of Turkish culture” in an interview given to Hurriyet. However, the holders of this success shouldn’t be forgotten. Government policy got involved in this process after the achievement of the private sector. They took the opportunity. In Greece there are many opponents as well as fans of the series concerned. Especially religious conservatives and nationalists debate about them uncompromisingly. The most famous protest took place on March 24th 2013. 500 Golden Dawn supporters and party members protested against Mega Channel due to the Turkish TV series which were broadcast on the anniversary of the Greek independence day. Some Golden Dawn party members urinated in public at the entrance of the channel building. In addition to that protest, the Macedonian parliament tried to prohibit those TV series. ¹http://www.theinternational. org/articles/339-soap-operadiplomacy-turkish-tv-in-greec Turkish TV series have contributed to the initiation of the recognition process between two countries, but this recognition generally originated from the Greek side. While the Greeks came to know many things about Turkish, there wasn’t such a succes from the Turkish side except the tourists visiting Parga. But in Greece, Turkish TV series became an indispensable part of the daily life. On behalf of myself, i can make close bonds with my neighbors thanks to the Turkish TV series.
UNITED MUSIC BY ALEKSANDRA RADONJIC It was a cold winter day when my friend invited me to listen to some live music. When I asked him to tell me about the singer, he told me “It is the girl that sings in 30 languages”. This is how I remember her every time. She is Aleksandra Radonjic, singing with great tones in all languages. She mostly chooses the traditional songs and I hope we can have a chance to listen to some Balkan songs from her in Thessaloniki. How did your journey start in the world of music? Well, music has always been an important part of my life. No matter what state of mind I’m in, it keeps me going. It inspires me to create, to hope, to give, to listen, to love, finally to be this person I am. Since I hadn’t much chance to travel (till recently), music took me to places around the world, it made it so real, yet through the music I learned a lot about the traditions and nations of the world. How did you decide to sing songs from various countries? So, as a child and as I was growing up, I listened to many different musical genres, but I always found something magical in old songs of distant cultures, such as Eastern cultures, Central Asian nomads’ cultures, Eastern African, Nordic, but in old Balkan too since it’s the ground I grew up on. And all the songs I loved to listen to myself I wanted to transmit to others, and I learned them so I can sing them to others and finally to have
them with me when there’s no sound. What is the most important thing that inspires you? If I can put it in one body, or if I could sharpen this feeling up to one point, it would be – justice. Justice embraced with love. Most of the songs I sing tell us about love in unfair circumstances we all deal with, wheater it’s about love between a couple, or if it’s about the group of people, nations or other kinds of groups. I suppose, we all wish to make things even, to make things fair, but yet somehow we don’t have control over it because of our selfish interests. We love, but we calculate our position there, we forgive but we don’t forget, and it always results in unfairness. So, if there is love, it should be just by itself. And this pure feeling of love that is just - inspires me. If we can see justice without our selfish frames, then we could love and help each other, and that’s what I find beautiful and inspirational whenever I recognize it. What distinguishes Balkan music from other kinds of music? What does it mean to you? The music I find the most close to my heart is the music of nomads from the Central Asian region, and I find myself thinking as I belong there, but as a Balkan born girl I surely feel the music of the Balkan peninsula. I find it rich. There are lots of influences of all the tribes and nations that passed and stayed here. I feel the sea,
I feel the mountains, I feel the pain and the joy of all of them. This music is like a wild heartbeat full of complexed rhythms.it’s the boiling blood in it. I feel strong passion there and I am proud to be the part of it. Do you have any idol? I must be honest and say there are people who influenced me as a musician and a person , though none of them are or were musicians. But I never tried to seem like them or to gain their qualities, which would be absurd to me. An artist should have his own expression; it’s like a personal scent. I just appreciated the acts of those people as human beings and wanted to train myself to keep up with my personal improvement as they did. So if I say any name, it wouldn’t say anything to the readers, because these people are some ordinary people I met on my way.
so I lent against the back of my seat in a vehicle that reminded me pretty much of those buses of GDR times. Soon I was going to get to know Mariaâ€™s grandparents. Once in Svilengrad, a taxi took us to the the place of her childhood where I would spend the last night before my crossing. Mariaâ€™s grandparents received me so friendly and warmly, served me typical food and wine. We talked and laughed till late before I caught
some decent sleep that ought to revitalize my senses for the next day. After a dreamlike night I packed my things and left with Maria and her father, as I would have a date beyond the European Union in the afternoon. But there was still plenty of time and loads of excitement rising in me, so that I would appreciate some distraction. Mariaâ€™s father took us to some places connected to the Thracian and Byzantine
past. While we were cruising to a village called Mezek the beautiful landscape with the Rhodope mountains in the south lured my eyes to gaze off into the distance. I could imagine how beautiful all this must be in springtime, trees seaming the road like soldiers forming an honour guard for us. First, we visited a medieval Byzantine fortress, scientist not being so sure if it concerns the ancient Neutzikon castle.
he last time that I crossed a border on foot, was in 1997 when I was on holiday with my parents on Usedom island which is situated in the Baltic Sea. In those days we made a bike tour to Swinoujscie. Oh, how excited I was when we had to slow down, to get off our bikes in order to show our
In former times it used to be an essential strategic point, being situated on a quite prominent elevation. Guardians would watch traders coming from Asia Minor and Europe as well as observing potentially imminent dangers. One can well imagine seeing traders from Constantinople wandering versus Ragusa (Croatia). The nowadays triangle zone used to be
passports to the polish officers. This time I was minimum as excited as back then. My target: the Bulgarian-Turkish border. After a terrific, gourmandizing lazy Christmas week in Sofia with Maria I was going to see her home town Svilengrad located right in the border triangle of Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey, not far from the
a transition zone already back then, different cultures, languages meeting and mixing. We also went to one of those Thracian rock cut tombs. I was looking sadly at that historic dead end imagining how they would lock the buried manâ€™s lover with him, depriving her of light, food and air. Probably those women imprisoned next to their dead husbands
famous frontier that excludes Turkey from the European Union. Maria and I took the coach from Sofia to the place where she was born. It took us about four hours to get there. While I was looking out of the window my eyes enjoyed the gently shaped hills disappearing slowly slowly in the approaching dark of the night. My head felt heavy and
forgot about their former love to them and got grumpy instead while decomposing After we had some typical appetizers from the zone for lunch (tongue, chicken stomach) in a panorama restaurant in Mezek, we were heading towards Turkey. I was told, as soon as I step my foot on Turkish land everything would be different for me. Would it really be like
that? Would it be so different from home? From afar I can see a parking and a building that looks like a check point. It is Kapitan Andreevo, one of the border crossings. I am beginning to sacrifice the skin around my nails to nervousness. Time to say Goodbye. While we exchange hugs and kisses, a tiny tear impends to leave my eye but eventually decides to move back to the cosy warm lachrymal gland because of the
low temperatures. I am off. A 1-kilometre’s walk lies in front of me. Singing Fats Domino’s “I’m walking” I approach the first border officer who makes me pass quickly. Moving forth as a pedestrian here feels like being a tiny hamster on a huge field, since the road is so broad. As I look around I see many empty buildings. Everything appears like under construction or to be continued. There is no one except some cars overtaking me. A further check point and
it’s my turn to overtake the cars! But no, my education tells me not to do so. I decide to behave like a car instead and get in the queue. How polite can one be? Confusion arises because I don’t know whether the woman that is examining my passport is Bulgarian or Turkish. Probably Bulgarian as I don’t receive any stamp. She smiles at me and forwards me further on the road while I watch the cars passing by again. Finally, I can make out some
pedestrians. They are much differently equipped than me though, carrying a plastic bag in their hands, seeming as if they were already used to this procedure, maybe experiencing it several times a month. Pulling my quite big suitcase behind me makes the road appear much longer. Tiny stones in the ground prevent me from accelerating so that I have even more time to look for a duty free shop in order to present my new hosts with some nice surprises.
But actually there is nothing, only a new check-point. Once again I want to be polite. The officer on the left side waves at me in order to indicate that I can overtake the cars. I am happy. He is looking at me intensely “Are you going to Turkey?” I am thinking “Yes, this is the name of the country beyond the border.” But I say “Yes, absolutely right.” And then he asks me where my card is. I say that I don’t have my identity card with me, only my passport and that I hope that
this won’t create any problem. The man suddenly looks kind of puzzled: “Noo, where is your caaarrrrr?” “Ah, my car. I sold it before coming here. So I am officially a pedestrian now.” Now, his facial expression shows me that he is either desperate or annoyed, probably both. His enormous prank hammers the seal on one of my passport’s pages. Then he waves me through as if it was a big relief for him to get rid of the girl with the black white dotted luggage.
Oh, the duty free shop. Finally, passenger’s paradise, above all for those who love alcohol, whether it is perfume or ouzo. I am thinking that shops like this should be called duty shops as family members or friends will expect us travellers to do our duty, namely buying as many items as possible from those hostile sterile places, where all your joy vanishes as soon as you step into the consumption hell. After I found out of the labyrinth, the trophy safe under my arm, I try to orientate myself again, the cold wind and the wide road clearing my mind, I head to the next check-point, where some really nice officers have a chat with me. They ask me to put my bags on a bench, to open them so that I can proudly present them the presents I acquired as well as my diary, underwear and my
unbelievably big collection of earplugs, so in fact nothing special, nothing to show off with, at least not for them. They want to know if it is my first time in Turkey to which I proudly answer that yes and tell them how excited I am to see Edirne. The officers stare in a weird way at me “Why in heaven Edirne?” “I will meet my boyfriend there.” I can see the deliverance in their faces: “Enjoy your first time in Turkey!” I pack my stuff, turn around, the guys and me waving at each other, me humming “Born to be wild”. I am so determined to rock those last meters. Nothing can stop me now. The final spurt opens its arms widely open to me. The asphalt underneath my soles is not blocking the wheels of my suitcase anymore, leading me straight to the last obstacle,
a fence separating me from Turkey, a whole new world for me. As I come closer I can recognize a man over there. He wears a parka, protecting him from the icy cold, his hands in his cuddly pockets. His face looks quite familiar, the two of us smiling at each other like Cheshire cats. At that point I just hurry towards him. I don’t even remember how or if they rubber-stamped my passport at the last check-point. That sequence of my memory is as foggy as our bathroom after having a hot shower. I am so exhilarated, focussing on something that lies beyond the present. I overcome the last metres in a mixture of running and stumbling, clumsy as I am. When I finally fall into his arms, I suddenly feel so home.
MY EXPERIENCE AS A TEDX VOLUNTEER 31
The first time I heard about TED I thought it was a comic book hero with some supernatural power. Two years later, the same person (me) worked as a volunteer at the first TEDx University of Macedonia event and experienced its “supernatural power”. However, how did this event come about? TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a non-profit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Starting as a conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support world-changing ideas with many initiatives. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. TEDx University of Macedonia was conceived in 2013 as an initiative of a 19-year-old student, Andrew Tzekas, who dared to dream of an exclusively studentorganized event, the first one of this kind in Northern Greece. In a short period of time, he managed to get the official license from the TED institution and the whole organizational team consisting of 18 people assembled in a few days. After nine months of intensive work that encountered many obstacles such as financial and bureaucratic issues, the first TEDx event took place on November 9th at the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki. An important part of this event was also the contribution of the volunteers –like me– who joined this exciting journey a month before the event. We participated in the preparation of the venue and the delegates’ materials; some of us were responsible for the reception of the speakers, while others undertook the technical part to decorate the conference room and adjust the sound and the lightning.
The day of the event came and everything was ready for the opening of the 1st TEDx University of Macedonia event. Doors were open and ready to welcome the 100 delegates. I remember myself standing at the entrance of the conference room smiling and helping the delegates to find their seats; it was the first time that I realized what was about to happen and I felt so proud of being part of this great initiative. As the motto of the event was “To Dare”, the conference was divided into four sessions: Dare to Create, Dare to Live and not Leave, Dare to Innovate and Dare to Challenge. Twelve speakers from different backgrounds and professions
shared their experiences, delivering inspiring speeches that were the driving force for the audience in order to think in a different way –as I like to say, out of the box–, to envision a better future and feel more motivated and powerful to define their potential. After a nine-hour conference with twelve speakers and two musicians, everybody left with the feeling of satisfaction; delegates were excited after feeling that their expectations were fulfilled while organizers and volunteers were relieved and thrilled by the quality of the outcome. Our motto “To Dare” means that we should take the courage to experiment with innovative
ideas even though they are far from the status quo. We believed that this motto was the most suitable as we organized a successful event with professional standards and dared to imagine that our university could act as a catalyst for expressing ideas, sharing experiences and developing creativity. Now the choice is yours! Dare… and make your wildest dreams come true! “Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly” John F. Kennedy
The Sun rises in the east, but… As a Turkish, I have always wanted to experience the European culture and visiting France changed my life. I am from Turkey and nothing has changed since I came to Greece. Just imagine churches instead of mosques and Greek instead of Turkish language. Behaviours, life style, cuisine culture (except pork) and people’s appearances are almost the same. Greece is located between East and West; tradition and modernity can be found in this country. Nevertheless, these differences can be seeing as a big richness. You have the chance to be fed with the rich history of the east and to build a bridge towards today’s west world. However, today roles have changed. Occident, especially Europe, not only enjoys a very good industry, but also people’s relationship, respect to the others and lifestyle are highly regarded. Therefore, I decided to go to France on Christmas to prove the veracity of these facts. Let’s see my reactions. I found peace While walking through the streets, I felt like in an image from the 17th century, so I kept on walking slowly enjoying the city. Suddenly, inspiration came to me and I felt the necessity to write some thoughts down. Buildings, trees, streets... they are so harmonious that I felt like if I was part of city. All the locals (drivers, shop assistants and ordinary people), when they realised that we were foreigners, were very kind with us. If I had to use only one word, it would be “peaceful”. I mean, I am not only talking about big cities, but also about small towns, like Beauvais in the North of Paris. Paris, Open Museum Everyone knows about Paris and its fame. Nevertheless, I have to admit that, before going to Paris, I thought Paris was excessively overrated. Champs-Élysées, Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Montmartre, Sacré-Coeur, Notre Dame, Père Lachaise, Arc de Triomphe... After visiting all these places, I started to suffer from Stendhal Syndrome. In fact, it is not about visiting specific places; walking through the streets is enough to this feeling. Paris is an open museum, but, even so, please do not forget to visit Louvre Museum, or Eiffel Tower, that will turn your head. In addition, if you love Amélie, you should go to Montmartre and discover her artistic neighbourhood. You must also spend some time in the most well known street all over the world: Champs-Elysees. I am sure that you have read one of Balzac’s novels or listened Edith Piaf songs. If you want to pay homage to them, you have the chance to do it in Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Prejudices Albert Einstein once said, “It is harder to crack prejudice than an atom.” However, my French trip cracked all of my prejudices about French people. I was worried before going to France; you know, according to general belief, French people are very arrogant and cold with foreign people, but I lived opposite. When I asked someone for an address, all the people stopped doing what they were doing and tried to help us. I did not except this behaviour from French people and I felt ashamed. Nantes, Youth City When someone thinks of France, the first thing to come to his/her mind is Paris. Now, I am writing about Paris, but France has many other beautiful cities. Nantes, located near the Atlantic Ocean, in Brittany, is one of these beautiful cities. On one hand, it is very suitable for young people since it is cheaper than Paris, it has a good transportation system (has very big Tramway network) and hosts many cultural and artistic activities. This is the reason why in 2004 the Time magazine named Nantes “the most liveable city in Europe”. On the other hand, in this Atlantic city you can find many historical places and museums.
Rennes, Classy and Peaceful Rennes is another city in Brittany. It is classy and plain as Nantes, but quieter. Rennes has also famous squares and historical buildings. Maybe I cannot say that â€œRennes is a touristic city,â€? but Mont Saint Michel, that is a one hour away from Rennes, is one of the most remarkable landmarks for tourists. Mont Saint Michel Mont Saint Michel is an island in Normandy located 1 km away from the coast. Even though it has only a population of 44 inhabitants, it hosts more than 3 million tourists per year. This island has a strategic, political and religious importance and it has been the seat of a monastery since the 8th century and has held strategic fortifications since ancient times. Furthermore, it was added in 1979 to UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. To me it was difficult to feel history of the island because it was crowded; everyone wanted to visit it and to take pictures to remember it later. In my opinion, all these tourists have changed the face of the island. Nowadays, you can visit this island, have a nice lunch there, see the museums and buy special presents to your friends, but you cannot take a calm breath, neither to find a silent place easily. And one question comes to my mind: who is wiser, the traveller or the bookworm? Books teach many things but experiences are the soul of the human beings. Trips change the perspectives of people and this trip changed my whole world, you cannot imagine how much experiences I gained in France. I saw happy people from the entire world with different backgrounds living their lives in France. I wish one day all the people in the world get the chance to live under the same standards.
A GREAT EXPERIENCE
I had many different experiences in my life. Some of them were good, some of them were bad. But there are some experiences that were unique and are going to have a great impact in the rest of my life. One of them was the one I had in the last Youth in Action project I participated in. This project “literary” changed my life. And the name of it… ‘Generation Y: between dystopia and utopia.’ The training took place in Olde Vechte Fundation in Ommen, the Netherlands. I really loved this country and even more this place! I hope I will have a chance to go back there soon! Cross fingers and wish me luck! It was a 12 dayslong training about the new generation, people between 18 and 30 years old today, and about their relationship with the media, all of their kinds. In it I had the chance to interact, communicate, work and have fun with 32 young people from 8 countries (Croatia, France, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, the Netherlands and Turkey). But what was it that that made this project a special one? It was not only about the people, or the impact of the training, or the practice of interesting things. It was all these things
together, plus the atmosphere. What’s that? Atmosphere is a situation that I cannot clearly understand how it was created, but I can truly say that it was there. I don’t know how people in Olde Vechte Foundation are getting prepared or what tools they use to make it, but they did create this special atmosphere. It was a place where we could create and have fun at the same time. It was a time that we had no limits and borders. It was a situation where everything was possible. It was a feeling that we are the leaders of our lives. That is the way I would describe the atmosphere. And of course there were some people responsible for keeping it there. Those people, those Gods of creativity and inspiration were our trainers and their assistants. And their names were Elena Tudorache and Andreas Hannes (Small House Productions and our trainers) and Anne Smeets, Elif Kansiz, Luzian Ghinda and Fabio Bruno their assistants and really amazing people. But still, as our trainer would say, nothing would be done without our good spirit and willingness to take everything they had to give to us. Therefore, I have to thank, once again, my GREAT GREAT team, all the Generation Yers that
were there for me as friends and fellows and helped me have this unique experience! I love you and I will always remember you! But let’s take a trip back in the past, at the days of the training! What did really happen there? As our trainer Andreas would say: ‘Now close your eyes! Remember everything that has happened all those days, everything that you have been through, all the good and bad memories’. And let’s make the trip. I remember that most of the time, I didn’t have time! We were running around all the time trying to create our new project-task (we had at least a new one everyday). We were working on media and we had to work in groups. Sometimes we had some easier goals but sometimes we had harder ones. But all the time we had to find our inspiration into the ideas of the team. They kept telling us that it is better doing together. In the beginning it did sound so important, but during the process we found out that each one of us had special talents and skills and that all together we could create something better than what anyone alone could do! In addition to all the tasks we had, we were getting new inputs every day. The
workshops were about the media and filmmaking. But of course the best way to learn is by creating your own knowledge. And that is why we had to search for more information about some certain things ever day! Of course that means even more tasks! And when did we have fun? We had fun all the time! Our sessions consisted of energizers, games, getting-toknow-each-other games and team building exercises. That was the most amazing part of the training for me. It was the time that our trainer did their spells and made us work together like if we knew each other for a long time, or even better like if it didn’t matter whether we knew each other or not. I felt like in my childhood; when the only thing I wanted just to play! It didn’t matter whether my fellows were black or white, tall or short, whether we had the same ideas or not. We just wanted to play… and we always could find a way of communication. And when we were about to get used to this routine of creativity and new knowledge, the outdoor activities took place! We had to get out there, in the real world and create our own film about Generation Y. My experience there was unique, unforgettable and powerful!
Even we came back, we had to create our own event and call the people from Ommen to participate in it. That was something I had never done in my life and I decided that since that whole thing is a totally new experience I want to get the best out of it. I became the director of the event and I had to organize the process of it. It was more like running around all the time, making sure that every team was working and offering help to everybody! But the truth is, that from this position I could watch the process of all of them and get familiar with all the needs an event has! It was the first leading position I had ever had in my life. So what was the result of all those in my life? What did I gain from this experience? I learned 3 things: First of all, everything is possible. When you really want to do something, you will find how, one way or another! Secondly, difficulties exist only in order to make life better! Every time an obstacle will appear in your way to success, you can either decide to take it as an unimportant one and give up, or to help it find its position in your planes and keep going by making it part of your ideas. And finally, I can do far more things that I could ever
imagine. People usually set border to their selves, believing that they cannot cross them and create a way of living after that. But, from my experience, I can say that’s not truth! We can do more; we just don’t know it yet! Even though I have left our house, Olde Vechte will always be maintained in my memory as my second house, I will always be returning there in my mind with my thoughts! I will always remember this and I hope that I will keep on participating in these. I have taken things from all the people I met and reacted in such a creative way! And my advice to all of you is to get inspiration from people around you, follow your dreams, keep it real and have fun! Generation Y: Between Dystopia and Utopia http://breakthecouch. com/2013/12/10/generation-ybetween-dystopia-and-utopiayouth-exchange-february2014-the-netherlands/ Youth in Action project http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/ youth/ Olde Vechte Fountation http://www.synergytrainingsnl. com/ Small House Productions http://www.smallhousepro. com/
Sangria, a bloody sip Although everybody knows this Spanish drink, only a few are able to prepare a good one (no, is it not only wine with fruits). One of the most expanded Spanish stereotypes is that they even have sangria for breakfast. Well, this is not true (the Germans living in Majorca are not Spanish), but one thing is true: it is a very common homemade drink. It is good to highlight the word homemade since a true Spaniard would never drink one of those ready-to-drink sangrias that you can find in any supermarket. So, which are the secrets of a nice sangria? First, and most important, a good company. It is mandatory to share the sangria with your friends whether in a meeting, a dinner or even during the sunset in a beach, but do not drink it alone, it is not funny. And second, it has to be homemade, just to know what you are actually drinking and to put as much love as you want in it. Let´s see the ingredients. Ingredients (3 litres) • 1.5 l of wine (the cheapest one you can find in the supermarket, it is not worthy to spend a lot of money in a good wine that you are going to ruin with soda and sugar) • 0.75 litres of orangeade • 0.75 litres of lemonade • Sugar (up to you, try first with one spoon and then, when you become an expert, you will decide better) • Fruits cut in dices (oranges and apples, for instance) • A good company (do not ever forget this basic ingredient) • Take into account that it takes one day to prepare the sangria, since the fruits need to be mixed with the wine. So, if you want to have your sangria on a Saturday night, do it on Friday evening so that you can enjoy a nice cool drink! Variants Although this is the basic sangria, there are some fearless people that add some rum, gin, champagne or even vermouth. But be aware of the consequences next day! If this is your case, and you want to have a more complete sangria, do it properly and do not ruin the flavour of the sangria by mixing everything in a crazy way. So, now you are ready. Invite your friends to have dinner at your place, prepare a nice meal and some sangria: you will be the perfect host!
The Balkan Supper When I was on holiday for Christmas I had the pleasure to get to know some Bulgarian as well as some Turkish dishes which were rather similar. Some delicacies reminded me of those I got to know in Greece. Food does not know any boundaries I thought. I had the pleasure to talk to friends and colleagues from several Balkan countries and they explained to me that my thought was not completely right. I had to consider the Balkan history, such as the fact that the Ottoman Empire occupied most of the Balkan peninsula during the time of its biggest expansion. They introduced me to their favourite goodies of which they are sure they exist in more than one Balkan country. There are plenty of examples of those. You will get to know three small dishes here though, which are easily prepared and extraordinarily tasty at the same time. Along the Balkan Dinner we will have some delicious πίτα (pita) in a rustic bread basket. A sensual shaped decanter with water adorns the table with the blue white chequered tablecloth. For those who want to be more “spiritual”, how about some red wine, τσίπουρο (tsipouro) or ούζο (ouzo)? So now, get ready, tie your napkins around your necks, arm yourself with cutlery aaand ATTACK!
The appetizer: Tаратор Let’s start with a delicious appetizer. Everyone knows the Greek τζατζίκι. In Turkey there is cacık, often served as a soup. In Bulgaria таратор (tarator) can make you bear extreme temperatures during a hot summer day more easily. The basic ingredients are cucumber, yoghurt and garlic. Recipes like that already existed in ancient Mesopotamian times. For 4 servings you place • 2 cups yoghurt in a large bowl with • 2 tablespoons dried mint, 2 cloves garlic minced, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 3 medium cucumbers diced Add • 1/2 cup cold water until a soup-like consistency is reached. Stir in • salt as much as required. Chill in refrigerator for about two hours before serving. Decorate with • walnuts Serve cold.
The main dish: Cарма Our main dish will be Serbian cарма which is actually rather common as a starter for big dinners. It is served with
tomato sauce there. Bulgarians know it as cарми. Cabbage will be wrapped around spiced minced meat. In Turkey those wrappings are known as sarma as well (turk. „sarmak“ means „to roll“) which is in a way related to Dolma (turk. „dolmak“ means „to fill/stuff “), the proof that the etymological root lies in Turkey. Our specialist in Turkish cuisine will concentrate on the latter in the next issue of our magazine. For 12 cabbage rolls you steam • 1 large head cabbage, 3 to 4 pounds until outer leaves are limp. Remove leaves, and continue. With a knife, remove tough ribs from leaves without damaging leaves. Reserve tougher outer leaves but don’t use for rolling. Mix • 1 pound ground chuck, 1/2 pound ground pork, 1 cup raw rice, rinsed, 1 (1.4-ounce) package dehydrated onion soup mix Adding a little water will make mixture easier to handle. Heap 2 tablespoons on each leaf, fold top of the cabbage leaf up over meat, then fold sides to the centre, and roll away from yourself to encase completely. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Discard the cabbage core and coarsely chop any remaining cabbage except the tough outer leaves you have reserved. Spread chopped cabbage on the bottom of a large casserole dish. Add • 1 jar sauerkraut , rinsed and drained Layer on the cabbage rolls, seam side down. Cut the • 6 smoked ribs or ham hock or other smoked meat into pieces, space them between the cabbage rolls. Cover those with reserved outer leaves. Mix • 1 can tomato sauce, 1 can tomato soup with water to make a liquid
consistency. Pour over rolls until mixture is level with rolls. Cover casserole dish and bake 1 hour. Then reduce temperature to 325 degrees and bake for 2 more hours. Let sit 20 to 30 minutes before serving.
The dessert: Künefe And finally, everyone has been waiting for it, the dessert! Künefe is one of the most delicious sweets in Turkey. But not only there, also in Greece you can find a sweet including crystal noodles, called κανταΐφι (kadaifi). In Albania the name is similar, namely Kadaif .
unsalted cheese evenly on top of the buttered phyllo dough and press with hands. Add the rest of the dough on top of the cheese and distribute and press evenly. Heat the oven to 375º F. Place the künefe pan and bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and pour the cold syrup on the hot künefe. Let the künefe absorb the syrup for about 5 minutes. Decorate with • 2-3 tablespoon finely ground pistachios Serve hot immediately. My special advice for you: Add a blop of magic • kaymak, as if it weren’t already enough calories. Mmmh, that was good. Let’s digest and clink glasses again with some sweet ρακόμελο (rakomelo). Στην υγειά μας ρε παιδιά!
For one künefe you combine • 2 cups sugar, 2 cups water for the syrup in a medium pot and put on the stove. Let it boil and remove from heat. Let it cool. Chop up • 1 pound shredded phyllo dough with a sharp knife until the shredded phyllo dough pieces are very small. Melt • 1 cup butter (2 sticks) in a non-stick pan. Add the shredded phyllo and mix continuously. Add • ½ cup milk (optional) and continue mixing until the butter and milk are completely incorporated into the shredded pyhllo. Remove from heat. In a round pan, place half of the buttered phyllo dough and press with your hands. Distribute • ½ pound unsalted, shredded mozzeralla cheese or any other stringy,
12 HOURS IN ISTANBUL
Imagine that you are in the biggest city in the world and that you only have 12 hours to visit it. What would you do? Imagine that you are flying to Asia or to Europe and you have to do a scale of 12 hours in Ataturk Airport. Would you stay there waiting for your next flight or would you go to the city centre to enjoy this magnificent city? Well, of course you will go to the city centre! So, here you have our tips for a 12-hourstrip in Istanbul. First of all, take your camera, change some money (few money, you do not really need that much) and leave your luggage on the left-luggage office, just to avoid carrying those kilos and to feel lighter to visit the city. Take the Red Line of the subway going from Atat端rk Limani (first stop) to Aksaray (last stop) and get ready for some hiking. Take the Ordu Street and after a 30-min walk you will reach Sultan Ahmet Park, where Santa Sophia and the Blue Mosque stand. Nevertheless, on the way you will see more than 1 million
mosques and minarets (more or less) and you will pass next to the Grand Bazaar (do not enter unless you want to get lost and lose your flight). Feel free to discover this area (Golden Horn) and take a picture next to Santa Sophia: you will look like a dwarf next to this massive temple. After having enjoyed the Golden Horn, head to Galata Tower. It will take you another 30 minutes to get there. On the way, you will pass by the Galata bridge, where you can see thousands (again, not exaggerating) of anglers. Now it is the time for a small snack. Since you are there, ask for a sandwich made of the fishes these anglers are fishing. It is impossible to explain why they are so tasty. Moving on, after climbing a huge hill, you will reach the Galata Tower. If you are not running out of force, keep on climbing until the top of the Tower, where you can find a magnificent panoramic view of the landscape of Istanbul. It is worthy to pay the entrance since you will see minarets, mosques, tiny people walking,
boats crossing the sea and two different continents: Europe and Asia. Harika! Finally, head to our last destination: Taksim square (another 30-minutes walk). However, before reaching this massive square (where the Turkish Spring took place) enjoy Istiklal Street. This is a huge commercial street with plenty of bars, clubs and taverns on its sides. This street is always crowded and you will always find something to do. So go and enjoy the Turkish food, have some fun in this area and, if after this marathon you feel a little bit weak, in the corner of Istiklal with Taksim you will find something very special: wet hamburgers. Yes, wet! You will appreciate this tip! Now, it is time to go back to the airport, but do not worry, you do not have to repeat the way back. Go to Point Hotel (1 minute far from Taksim) where you can take a bus that goes directly to the airport in 40 minutes. It works every half an hour from 4 am until 1 am. Iyi yolculuklar
SOFIA – “IT GROWS BUT IT DOESN’T GET OLDER”
Modern and bold, spiritual and mystical, ancient and wise and that is what it means. Its name is Sofia: Wisdom. Two million people live in an area of 492 square kilometres. They coexist peacefully, no matter which religion they follow. Sofia is also the place of the healing mineral water springs. It is close to Vitosha mountain – the eternal love of the people living here. Sofia is the capital and the largest city of Bulgaria. Because of these two factors its infrastructure is probably the most developed in the country. From here all the Bulgarian highways start – starting points for most western tourists who come to visit it and maybe want to go further. The centre of Sofia is not large, but full of restaurants, shops, galleries and historical landmarks. If you want to see the most important parts of the city you have to take a few days for an informative walk. We will start our tour from the church and at the
same time monument “St. Alexander Nevski”, which was built in honour of Alexander II (also called “Tsar Liberator” because his army helped to liberate Bulgaria from the Ottoman rulers in 1878). The church is one of the symbols of Sofia and is interesting for both those who are interested in spirituality and culture. It is the largest memorial of the Balkan peninsula. The area including the church and all the important administrative buildings of Bulgaria is famous for its streets covered with yellow bricks. According to the legend they were a gift for the wedding of King Ferdinand, and according to the facts they really were imported from Austria-Hungary. Another attraction is the National Art Gallery, which is housed in the former Royal Palace. In the gallery are more than 3000 pieces of art: paintings, sculptures and graphics of notorious representatives of the Bulgarian art. If you are tired you can
relax in the City Park. During warmer months, in the evening you will find it crowded with young people, musicians and street artists. The garden is located next to the national theatre. The most important street for theatres is “Rakovska”. You will find the most famous theatres there. Their program of performances includes classical plays as well as modern and vanguard ones. In the small alleys of the street “Rakovska” there are many cafés favoured by artists and actors. Next to the National Academy of Film and Theatre Art ( NATFIZ ) there is the café “Keva”. The café has two floors. The second floor is used for stage arts. A lot of young artists have exhibitions and performances there. Other important streets, but mostly for shopping, are “Count” and “Vitoshêa”. Both roads meet at the statue that people in Sofia call “The Pope”. This is one of the famous meeting points. Another place is the National Palace of Culture (NPC).
Bulgarians call it NDK. One rather different location in the heart of Sofia is Art Hostel: Centre for Music and DJ-parties, playground for poets, debate platform, gallery, chill-out area where visitors can enjoy some tranquillity, a place to meet friends for a cup of tea, and for some it has become home. Young people from around the world are staying at the hostel, creating a constantly shifting and highly inspiring kaleidoscope of emotions, experiences and even personalities. Small wooden chairs, painted in white, perched around wooden tables, coquetting in a bright and at the same time warm space. The aroma of freshly ground coffee and some soft music create a cuddly atmosphere. Under cloches there is a big variety of chocolate cakes, pastries and sweets. Behind them white ceramic jars rise like a wall. This is the café Memento. You can find it next to NDK and on “Vitoshka”street.
In Sofia there is a place where flower children are still at home: This is the club “Barn”. The door is made out of old boards. So, entering the club you expect to see the dilapidated basement. But when you open it... Here’s the paradise of immediacy! People with baggy clothes and shirts with marijuana-leaf prints, poetical young people with bottles of beer, girls sitting on the ground, buried in bright clouds of smoke and some plants. The universal background music underlines the mellow mood. Your feet are surrounded by flickering candles which go together well with kissing couples (not necessarily heterosexual ones). Somehow you come to stand in the middle of the room and shout: “Make love not war, brothers and sisters!” And nobody’s going to pay attention. Sofia visitors can spend a long time walking around Sofia gardens. Most visited gardens are Borisova Gradina front of the National Theatre, South
Park and the garden in front of the NPC. Those parks are great places to fight back and to rest of the turbulent city life. They could be your favourite place for walks on weekends. During the summer time they host various concerts, exhibitions and other cultural events. Outside Sofia the largest natural landmark is Vitosha mountain (even if some parts of Sofia are practically in the mountains or hills). Vitosha is seen from across the capital and is perhaps the biggest plus of the town, which unfortunately is not entirely appreciated. Sofia is one of the few European capitals and major cities in Europe which has a high mountain right next to it. Vitosha is the fourth highest mountain in Bulgaria. How about visiting also the Black Peak ( 2290m) in case you are planning a weekend getaway.
Published on Mar 29, 2014
Balkan Beats is a free press bimonthly magazine, created by the EVS (European Voluntary Service) volunteers of the NGO "United Societies of...