Civil society

Baku, where “Internet Governance” doesn't sound good

21/12/2012 -  Arzu Geybullayeva Baku

Last month the UN Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held in Baku. Amidst doubts on the choice of the host country, the distribution of reports on freedom of expression at the venue was blocked and the computers of assistants to vice-president of the EU commission Neelie Kroes were hacked

The 1800 inmates of Moldova's psychiatric hospitals

03/12/2012 -  Natalia Ghilaşcu

Psychiatric patients in Moldova are often forced into huge facilities, where freedom is restricted more than is necessary and the sick are vulnerable to abuses. A report by our correspondent

Russia, NGOs become "foreign agents"

21/11/2012 -  Irina Gordienko* Moscow

Today, a new federal law on NGOs enters into force in Russia. All associations working on human rights will have to register as "foreign agents", and could stand accused of high treason. The Russian government, apparently frightened by the wave of protests against electoral fraud, introduced the new law to restrict the activities of organizations researching the election process, but the law will affect all NGOs, especially in the Caucasus

Montenegro, a country to change

06/11/2012 -  Francesco Martino Podgorica

Montenegro: a country that has not seen a change of government for 23 years, stifled by corruption and organized crime. This is what Vanja Ćalović, director of MANS (Network for the affirmation of the non-governmental sector), struggles to change. The elections of October 14th have opened up spaces for hope, but much more needs to be done, including by the EU. Our interview

Albania: the boom of private schools

02/10/2012 -  Marjola Rukaj

Private schools of all levels have flourished over the last ten years. A report about a failing public system, teachers struggling with the laws of the free market, and families struggling with their wallets

Slow Food Turkey: Wheat Rites

26/07/2012 -  Francesco Martino Istanbul

A few kilometres off the coast of Istanbul, in the Sea of Marmara, the Princes' Islands are the tourist destination for those who want to leave behind, at least for a few hours, the frenzy of the immense metropolis on the Bosporus. These islands have been for millennia a laboratory of cultural contamination, as testified by recipes, smells, tastes, and words – suspended between memory and oblivion

Time for summer clean-up after Eurovision in Azerbaijan

23/07/2012 -  Arzu Geybullayeva Baku

As soon as the Eurovision song contest ended, Azerbaijan was once again out of the world media spotlight. Baku's authorities did not lose any time getting back to cracking down on international human rights organizations and local activists

Kosovo, where ideas bring value

28/06/2012 -  Veton Kasapolli Pristina

A Minister for marketing? Why not? Promoting the country's image is something a new generation of musicians, sports people and artists is already working on, awaiting politics also to take its course

The false myth of sustainability

20/06/2012 -  Risto Karajkov

The section on sustainability is a fundamental part of development project proposals. But why is it so important for the donor? And is it always necessary? A comment

Croatia on the Balkan migration route

07/06/2012 -  Francesca Rolandi

Croatia is on the so-called Balkan route of migration that runs from Serbia to the countries of the EU. How does the country, soon to become the 28th Member State of the Union, deal with migration issues? We have asked Julija Kranjec, expert in asylum and migration policy of the Centre for Peace Studies in Zagreb

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