A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘former yugoslavia

[LINK] “Former Yugoslav States, Albania Vow to Step Up Drive to Join EU”

leave a comment »

Bloomberg’s Jasmina Kuzmanovic and Gordana Filipovic report on the renewed push in the western Balkans for European Union membership. Certainly it’s not as if the western Balkans have any other future.

Former Yugoslav republics and neighboring Albania vowed to resuscitate their drive for European Union integration after the migrant crisis rocked the region and created the worst political rifts between Balkan states since the civil wars of the 1990s.

The heads of state for EU members Croatia and Slovenia and EU outsiders Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania signed a joint commitment to strengthening the stability and prosperity of the region. They also aim to strengthen ties to the U.S. and seek an expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization deeper into the Balkans.

[. . .]

The western Balkans has been stretched by the flood of hundreds of thousands of migrants escaping the violence in Syria as well as refugees from as far away as Afghanistan and Northern Africa. Slovenia and Croatia strained their EU ties after Slovenia declared its intention to build fencing along the two countries’ shared border. The dispute is being echoed across the EU as governments grapple with a crisis on a scale not seen since the 1940s.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 26, 2015 at 3:02 pm

[LINK] “Yugoslavia’s ‘Space Age’ Monuments Revisited”

leave a comment »

At The Balkanist, one Susanna Bitters has a marvelous photo essay examining the unusual but striking monuments to the Second World War built in Yugoslavia.

In the Internet age, Partisan monuments, or spomenik, have become as scattered across websites as they have across the Balkans. The presentation of these “space age” marvels depict only their futuresque and crumbling qualities. The bloody memento mori of their origins have become omitted, if they were even known in the first place. The spomenik have effectively receded from the landscape as markers of the Partisan socialist struggle, only to emerge again as beacons of a Brutalist, over­reaching, and unrealized future.

At the end of WWII, thousands of spomenik were erected. A majority of them were situated on battle sites, creating a consciously­ constructed constellation of Partisan struggles across the landscape. They remain scattered across the region, some as simple as a plaque with the names of those killed. You can find them still, tucked onto hilltops and occasionally marked from the road by brown government signs. The early sculptures were representative and, quite frankly, exceedingly dull, telling a careful story in stone and iron. They showed the pores of a post­war world. The subject matter was severe, the construct depressing.

Metal men seemed to sag and fray under the sheer weight of time and death and loss. But when Tito turned from Stalin and cast his gaze on the west, so did the Yugoslavian spomenik. Within the length of the Informbiro Period began the rise of what was later termed “socialist modernism,” in which the horrors of war became an abstraction. The long, laconic, and notionally weary faces looming above the elevated platform at Tjentište, discernible only to the practiced eye. The rapidly shifting sun when ensconced at Kozara, vacillating wildly from dark to light as if to depict the mercurial nature of humanity. The spomenik began to depict not war and conflict, but the struggle for self-­determination and the optimistic energy therein.

Remarkable, essays and photos (the author’s own) both.

Written by Randy McDonald

November 6, 2015 at 1:42 am

[LINK] “What’s It Like to Have Refugees Stream Into Your Town?”

leave a comment »

In a photo essay at National Geographic, writer Meghan Collins Sullivan and photographer Ciril Jazbec look at the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on a small unprepared border town in Slovenia.

Rigonce, Slovenia was a quiet, bucolic town on the border with Croatia where farmers tended crops and neighbors greeted each other warmly in the street. That changed last week.

Overnight, the sounds of cows mooing, hens clucking, and tractors turning over the land gave way to the roar of military tanks, the buzz of bullhorns blaring commands in Arabic, and the endless whirring of helicopter blades.

Thousands of migrants—mostly refugees fleeing war and violence in Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq—crossed over a bridge from Croatia into the town on their way to Germany and Austria. They had already spent months traveling by boat, train, and foot before reaching this spot. They’re weeks behind a flood of others who had passed through Serbia and Hungary. But when Hungary closed its border with Serbia, these later migrants changed their path, leading them to Rigonce, a town of 176 residents, most of them Catholic. Town officials estimate more than 70,000 migrants have passed through the village.

“This is a catastrophe,” said villager Janja Hribar, 19. “Our cows ran away.”

When they first started to arrive, the migrants streamed down Rigonce’s dusty main street, which is barely wide enough for two cars to pass. It is lined with about 20 houses and a few small gardens of lettuce and cabbage. The migrants discarded trash along the way, leaving the country road littered with plastic bottles, crumpled paper, blankets, and coats. This is a town that’s been a contestant for tidiest village in the county.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 29, 2015 at 4:57 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly describes what it takes to be a professional writer.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper considering dust in atmospheres.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the study of a medieval Korean star catalogue.
  • Language Hat notes a program to translate Mexican writers who write in indigenous languages.
  • Steve Munro offers advice on what to do about Smarttrack.
  • Marginal Revolution refers readers to Gary Kasparov’s new book on politics, criticizing Putin and much else.
  • The Planetary Society Blog shares the latest data from Dawn at Ceres.
  • Torontoist has a beautiful picture of the Prince Edward Viaduct.
  • Towleroad notes a referendum on same-sex marriage in Slovenia.

[LINK] “Crowdfunding a revolution in Montenegro”

Fedja Pavlovic at Open Democracy writes about the state of affairs in Montenegro, which includes a crowdfunding campaign against the incumbent.

On 27 September, thousands of Montenegrin citizens, led by the main opposition group (the Democratic Front), gathered in front of their parliament to demand an end to the 26 year rule of Milo Djukanovic’s regime. The resignation of Djukanovic’s government would be followed, it was hoped, by the formation of a transitional, national unity government, whose mandate would be limited to organising the first free and fair elections in the country’s history.

Since then, the protesters have put up tents on a boulevard which has become known as ‘liberated territory’; across the barricades, a thousand policemen in full armor stand guard outside an empty parliament building, on top of which snipers are dispersed. Last Sunday, the Ministry of Interior attempted to disband the assembled crowd, but the protests’ leaders refused to leave the occupied ground until their demands were met.

Anti-Government rallies have also taken place in three other cities – the organisers’ plan is to spread this wave of popular revolt to every municipality in which Djukanovic’s party holds power, thus making the movement nation-wide.

Meanwhile, from our press tent, I have been involved in running an international crowdfunding campaign to support the Montenegrin protests. Without the funds, the logistics or the manpower to mount a credible challenge to Djukanovic, the protests’ organisers have been forced to think outside of the box. Indeed, the prospect of the protests being the first political event of their kind to be sustained by small individual donations (‘citizen-driven and citizen-funded’, as they point out) is as out-of-the-box as it gets.

As partial as I am to this fundraising novelty it appears as though, even at this early stage of development, the protests have brought to the fore a far more pertinent point – one that may contribute to the understanding of the role of elections in authoritarian regimes.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 14, 2015 at 9:53 pm

[LINK] “Serb-Croat Enmity Flares as Refugee Crisis Rekindles Anxiety”

Bloomberg reports on the breakdown in Serbian-Croatian relations over border controls imposed on account of the refugee crisis.

Croatia, an EU member, on Wednesday banned Serb vehicles from entering except those with perishable goods. In retaliation, Serbia blocked imports of Croat products. Croatia also accused Serbia of having directed migrants to its territory since Hungary erected a razor-wire fence to stop the influx. The government in Belgrade rejected the allegation, saying it can’t influence the refugees’ route.

“In order to avoid a further escalation of the new situation Brussels should mediate and civil society organizations in both countries must help,” said Gordana Delic, the director of the Balkan Trust for Democracy. “I believe the situation between Croatia and Serbia has not gone that far yet, that it would be impossible to restore the good neighborly relations”.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said his nation “can’t handle such a huge inflow” and urged Serbia to take the “completely reasonable” steps of setting up registration centers and directing some of the refugee toward Hungary.

EU policy chief Federica Mogherini and Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn are in close contact with Zagreb and Belgrade “to try and help them to find a solution together in order to restore trade flows as soon as possible,” Mina Andreeva, a spokeswoman for the 28-nation bloc’s executive, the European Commission, told reporters in Brussels on Thursday. Any trade restrictions must be “proportional, non-discriminatory and limited in time,” she said.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 25, 2015 at 7:38 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes that Toronto has been ranked as the most liveable city in the world by the Economist.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly talks about the allure of learning something difficult.
  • Centauri Dreams describes circumbinary planet Kepler-453b.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to an attempt to date the Gliese 504 system, reports on a new definition for planets, and suggests that the abundances of biologically necessary material on planetary surfaces and atmospheres is quite variable.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes the latest on the war in the Donbas.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas is trying to crowdfund the last four courses he needs for his doctoral degree.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that it has moved to www.joemygod.com.
  • Language Hat considers the third wave of Russian emigration to the United States.
  • Language Log displays a decorative Japanese dialogue written in romaji, Roman script.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes who Tea Partiers think should benefit from bankruptcy.
  • Marginal Revolution notes Singapore spends little on education as a proportion of its GDP, a consequence of its very low birth rate.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that Uber does work better than traditional taxis in the outer boroughs of New York City.
  • Strange Maps considers fire maps of old.
  • Torontoist looks at the story of Toronto’s first parks commissioner, John Chambers.
  • Towleroad quotes George Takei’s explanation why Star Trek did not feature gay characters and looks at a Swiss Catholic bishop facing jail time for inciting anti-gay violence.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers if the lessons of ancient Greek democracy are relevant for us post-moderns.
  • Window on Eurasia notes divisions on the Russian left over Crimea, suggests China is benefitting from Russia’s new dependence, notes that the United States did not recognize the Donbas in the Cold War, and quotes a Ukrainian writer who suggests that the Serb republics in the former Yugoslavia show the likely future of the Donbas states.

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 488 other followers