Civil society

Small is Beautiful: Challenges facing Balkan NGOs

30/05/2012 -  Risto Karajkov

EU aid to Balkan civil society seems to be increasingly directed at large NGOs. Small community-based organisations tend to be marginalised mainly as a result of turnover thresholds and excessive red tape set by the donors. An opinion by Risto Karajkov, OBC's correspondent and free-lance civil society consultant

Okruženje, Yugosphere and its neighbourhood

10/04/2012 -  Luka Zanoni

There are not many parts of the world where a TV talk show can be produced without requiring dubbing or subtitles in order to be broadcast in 5 different countries. But in the Balkans this is possible. Vicinities is a first when it comes to talk shows with a regional approach. "But don't talk to me about Yugosphere" says Nenad Šebek, the show's host

Go Group Media: life as it is in the Caucasus, on film

29/03/2012 -  Giorgio Comai

The basic idea behind Go Group Media is simple: give a camera to people from all walks of life, living in isolated parts of the country, and tell them to make films about their lives or things that matter to them. The result is an amazing way to get to know the lives of people living in different parts of the Caucasus

Independent Bosnia, twenty years on

19/03/2012 -  Michele Biava Sarajevo

In March 20 years ago, after the victory for the affirmative vote in a referendum abandoned by the majority of the Bosnian Serbs, Bosnia Herzegovina declared its independence. A month later the war began. Here are some observations of Jovan Divjak on the twenty-year period

Romania: creative uprising and return to the political scene

29/02/2012 -  Cristina Bezzi

Weeks of street demonstrations in Romania, where citizens have rarely protested against the “power”. We have discussed it with Vintila Mihailescu, an anthropologist amongst the most lucid intellectuals in Romania

Memories of a Bosnian Roma

10/02/2012 -  Andrea Oskari Rossini

20 years ago a group of Serb paramilitaries destroyed a Roma village in Eastern Bosnia, killing all the residents. A child survived and, today, he is asking for his people justice before the Belgrade's War Crimes Prosecutor

Montenegro: the fight against domestic violence is a priority

09/12/2011 -  OWPSEE/OBC

Let's take a closer look into the issue of domestic violence in Montenegro: there are good laws but they are not yet implemented efficiently. They lack coherent coordination and Montenegrin society seems not yet to recognise the seriousness of this problem

Abkhazia's Armenians, multilingualism is the future

30/11/2011 -  Giorgio Comai Sukhumi

At home they speak Hamshen, a variety of western Armenian. At school, they study eastern Armenian, as spoken in Yerevan. According to Sukhumi authorities, they will need to speak Abkhaz within a few years. Most of them, though, prefer to just speak Russian. An interview with Suren Kerselian, former president of the Armenian community in Abkhazia

Domestic violence in Albania

16/11/2011 -  OWPSEE/OBC

Recent data show a worrying rise in the phenomenon. The growing numbers may however be the reflection of increased awareness and the inclination to press charges. This analysis gives an overview of the current situation, from laws not being enforced to scarce state assistance

Croatia: we are also indignados

28/10/2011 -  Francesca Rolandi

On 15 October, indignados were also demonstrating in Croatian streets. It was a significant event, because Croatians have hardly ever expressed their discontent through public protests. This is an interview with one of the organisers

Young lawyers struggle in Georgia

13/10/2011 -  Giorgio Comai Tbilisi

Georgia's Young Lawyers' Association (Gyla) is one of the largest NGOs in Georgia. It provides free legal counselling to all those who need it. It is often critical of the government and demands more transparency. It struggles against the judiciary in a country where the acquittal rate in the capital, Tbilisi, stands at just 0,04 percent. An interview with Ekaterine Popkhadze, Gyla's executive director

Skopje, the bastard city

09/09/2011 -  Marjola Rukaj

Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, is a divided city but it retains a 'bastard' soul. Katharina Urbanek and Milan Mijalkovic have dedicated a book to it, looking into the meaning of the deep transformations - spatial and symbolic - that the city is currently undergoing with the controversial "Skopje 2014" plan. Our interview

Hidden violence in Kosovo

05/09/2011 -  Francesco Gradari

Police in Kosovo register over 1,000 officially-reported episodes of domestic violence every year and four out of five victims are women. However, official data is just the tip of the iceberg – not many women dare denounce their agressors

Domestic violence: slow progress in Croatia

26/08/2011 -  OWPSEE/OBC

Despite the legislative framework being up to standars, Croatia lags far behind in terms of actual protection of women victims of violence in the home. Our analysis

LGBT in Moldova: life's not easy

18/08/2011 -  Natalia Ghilaşcu Chişinău

The LGBT community in Moldova faces discrimination in hospitals and in the workplace. According to a survey, only 2% of Moldovans would welcome having a gay or lesbian as a family member, colleague or friend. Transsexuals have problems obtaining new ID cards and have to struggle to overcome discrimination. A feature story

Imagine track II diplomacy for Karabakh

05/08/2011 -  Arzu Geybullayeva Bakuriani

Each year since 2007, the Imagine Center brings two groups of selected participants from Armenia and Azerbaijan together in a third country to discuss the two communities' histories, perceptions, and attitudes. The intention is to contribute to transforming negative perceptions and attitudes by reaching out to the younger generations

Sexist advertisement in Chişinău

25/07/2011 -  Natalia Ghilaşcu Chişinău

Sexist advertisements are invading Chişinău, the capital of Moldova. The image of the woman depicted is clear: sexy and beautiful, a good servant for men, a hardworking housewife. Two companies using such advertisement have already been sued. But people still bump into billboards with sexy women all over. A feature story

The Sharipov case and inadequate safeguards for the right to asylum

13/07/2011 -  Giorgio Comai

Anvar Sharipov, a Russian citizen from Daghestan, has recently obtained refugee status in Italy. His story should have proceeded smoothly, but unfortunately it did not. On the contrary, the Sharipov affair shows up major shortcomings in safeguarding rights to asylum in Italy

Kids Across the Caucasus

20/06/2011 -  Amanda Wilson Budapest

Ngos in the Caucasus often fill the gap left by the state in areas related to children care, including basic education and assistance to the disabled. The Open Society Foundation supports local Ngos active in these fields in both the Northern and Southern Caucasus. Journalist Natasha Yefimov told their stories in a book, Kids Across the Caucasus. An interview with the author

Belgrade, Queeroslavia

03/05/2011 -  Irene Dioli

Six years ago, the Queer Beograd collective organised the first Queer Beograd Festival. Its story is a good chance to talk about LGBT and queer movements in Serbia – their goals, their fortune, and their imaginary

Armenia-Azerbaijan peacebuilding kicks off in Tekali

07/04/2011 -  Onnik Krikorian Tekali, Yerevan

Events held in rural Georgia hope to demonstrate how grassroots peacebuilding activities can not only contribute to discussion and debate, but also have some more immediate and practical dividends as well

As tensions mount, plans for an Armenian-Azerbaijan Peace Building Center in Georgia

22/02/2011 -  Onnik Krikorian Yerevan

The project of an Armenian theatrical director and actor turned peace activist to open a peace center in Tekalo, a small village in Georgia a few kilometers from the border with Armenia and Azerbaijan. “Communication is not betrayal, it is a natural human need.”

Budgetary cuts cast shadow over landmine clearance in Nagorno Karabakh

01/02/2011 -  Onnik Krikorian Yerevan

Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a war over Nagorno Karabakh in the early 1990s. Around 25,000 were killed and nearly a million from both sides forced to flee their homes. Although hostilities were put on hold by a 1994 ceasefire agreement, in addition to skirmishes on the frontline, landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) continue to pose a threat to life

Romania, good news from a lost decade

19/01/2011 -  Cornel Ban

In the last decade, Romania has been a reliable source for seekers of bad news for the international media. Nevertheless, through the thicket of bad news, the country has also seen some brighter developments in the economy, in politics and in human development

IWPR: Calls for War Memorials Divide Bosnia

29/12/2010 -  Rachel Irwin, Velma Saric

All over Bosnia, the sites of atrocities often lack any kind of formal memorial to commemorate them. Observers say that this reflects an ongoing reluctance by the ethnic group whose members committed the crimes to acknowledge that they occurred at all. From IWPR

Bloggers in Azerbaijan back to freedom

15/12/2010 -  Arzu Geybullayeva Baku

Emin and Adnan were arrested in July 2009. Their detention and later arrest was harshly criticized by local and international organizations. Documents published by Wikileaks suggest that US leadership asked that the two bloggers be “quietly released”

Scorpio Ltd, a company committed to the community

30/11/2010 -  Kaela Venuto

It is not an NGO nor an association, but, developing from the grass roots with great enthusiasm, it has both rare entrepreneurial spirit and strong civic commitment. Scorpio is a private firm, a so-called Limited Company, but it is strongly community minded

Serbia ten years after Milošević: longing for the future

13/10/2010 -  Petra Tadić Belgrade

Memories, many. Regrets, none. The desire not to give up and a great will to look to the future. Ten years after October 5, 2000, historical date that marks the fall of Slobodan Milošević’s regime, reflections from our correspondent in Belgrade

Fätmagül Berktay: “Turkish women root for the EU”

13/10/2010 -  Francisco Martinez Istanbul

Leader of the Turkish feminist movement, Fätmagül Berktay has defended the right to university even for those wearing the veil. “The Kemalist constitution let us move forward in society, but it had no effect on domestic violence, widespread in any class and ethnicity. The EU would make us stronger”. Our interview

Seliger's many faces

19/07/2010 -  Giorgio Comai Seliger

Thousands of young people from all over the world took part in a camp organised by the Russian government. A portrait of today's Russia, a country looking for openness and international recognition, where development and innovation are strictly tied to the Putin-Medvedev governmental “tandem”. A reportage