Civil society

Youth activists and bloggers detained

20/07/2009 -  Arzu Geybullayeva Baku

Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizada have been recently detained in Azerbaijan because of apparently groundless accusations. Despite inquiries to the local authorities by foreign embassies in Baku, they are still being held in jail

Lifting the wall

17/07/2009 -  Risto Karajkov Skopje

The European Commission proposed visa liberalization for Macedonia, Serbia, and Montenegro, which would bring an end to a costly and sometimes humiliating ritual for people who need to travel abroad. Kosovo, Bosnia and Albania, though, were excluded from the recommendation

Responsibility or marketing?

15/07/2009 -  Claudia Iatan Bucharest

Sensitivity on corporate social responsibility is embryonic in Romania as well as elsewhere. Trade unions are absent, institutions are fragile, and NGOs draw on the business sector for their fund-raising activity

Bittersweet relief for NGOs in Azerbaijan

08/07/2009 -  Arzu Geybullayeva Baku

Recent amendments to the law on NGOs in Azerbaijan have been milder than earlier expected. And while the local NGO community is relieved, there is some dissatisfaction and worry that the struggle is not over yet

Bosnian Chess

02/07/2009 -  Andrea Rossini Sarajevo

An interview with Senad Pećanin, director of the news weekly Dani, about the ongoing clash between High Representative Inzko and the institutions of Republika Srpska, the position of the international community, and the future of the country

The Wall, the Walls

04/06/2009 -  Marjola Rukaj

In 1989, Fatos Lubonja was in jail serving time as a political prisoner. It was there that he received the first news of what was going on in Eastern Europe. In the beginning, it seemed as if what was going on would not have any impact in Albania. An interview

Oblivion and doubts

28/05/2009 -  Francesco Martino Bucharest

"We have not managed to deal with the legacy of communism in a clear way and this is not only a source of confusion, but also of frustration". The events of 1989, an ambiguous revolution, the Romanians and Europe. An interview with Mircea Vasilescu

Caucasian Knot

14/05/2009 -  Giorgio Comai Moscow

Osservatorio met Grigory Shvedov, the editor-in-chief of 'Caucasian Knot,' the largest news outlet dealing with the region, to talk about freedom of the media, the role of international organisations in the Caucasus and his web portal

Celebrating Flower Day in Azerbaijan

12/05/2009 -  Arzu Geybullayeva Baku

Young people were arrested while mourning for recently killed fellow students in a Baku university on 10 May, Flower Day in Azerbaijan, also remembered as the birthday of former president Heydar Aliyev

An online revolution in the making?

08/05/2009 -  Onnik Krikorian Yerevan

Internet penetration remains low in regions such as the South Caucasus. However, as costs come down and connection speeds increase, there is no doubt that online and mobile communication will become important tools in the hands of civil society and political activists alike

A pass to paradise

08/05/2009 -  Iulian Lungu Chişinău

Following the post-electoral violence in Moldova, Romanian authorities approved an urgent act which simplifies the procedures to obtain Romanian citizenship. Despite the tough reactions of Chişinău's authorities, thousands of Moldovans rushed to apply for a Romanian passport

The government vs. the court

24/04/2009 -  Risto Karajkov Skopje

A few days before Easter, the Macedonian constitutional court cancelled a law enacted by the VMRO-DPMNE led government introducing optional religious education in public schools. This act marked the beginning of the fiercest dispute between the executive and highest judiciary institution

Otherwise and elsewhere

20/04/2009 -  Marjola Rukaj

"Our desire for elsewhere was equal to our desire for otherwise." Young Albanian students, from the collapse of the regime to the mass exodus. An interview with Ron Kubati, a writer

No way out of the protests

14/04/2009 -  Tengiz Ablotia Tbilisi

On 9 April, the government opposition in Tbilisi, Georgia started a new wave of protests to demand the resignation of Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili. The protests have been peaceful but are rapidly heading into a stalemate

For the good of Russia

31/03/2009 -  Giorgio Comai Moscow

The organization "Russian Congress of Caucasian Peoples" was founded by members of different nationalities in the region that have united to guard their own interests, defend themselves from discrimination and for the good of Russia

As if nothing had ever happened

23/03/2009 -  Danijela Nenadić

"They listen to my generation's stories of fighting against Slobodan Milošević's regime like we used to listen to the partisans' stories we were told, once upon a time." The bombings and the generation born under them, the unsaid, the future

The fall

04/03/2009 -  Andrea Rossini

The end of division in Europe, the end of Yugoslavia, the advent of globalisation: an interview with Rada Ivekovic. A new article in the series on European identity, the new system of international relations and the memory of communism in the first 20 years after 1989

Who Are We? II

26/02/2009 -  Risto Karajkov Skopje

Macedonians have become bitter with each other. Over themselves. Over who they are. Over whether they are Slav or ancient Macedonians. Op-eds and commentaries have overwhelmed the press; the blogosphere has overheated. It all started because of a monument

Surviving Reunification

18/02/2009 -  Andrea Rossini

From the fall of the Berlin Wall to the European integration process, via the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The controversial heritage of Communism in Europe, made of nostalgia, social injustice and demand for security. An interview with Slavenka Drakulić

Noz, Zica, Srebrenica

15/01/2009 -  Risto Karajkov Skopje

When Facebook caught on to a Serb ultra-nationalists forum called "Noz, zica, Srebrenica", or "Knife, Wire, Srebrenica", using the social networking site to glorify one of the bloodiest massacres in Europe since World War II and promote hatred against Muslims, it was promptly shut down. But on the Internet, where does the hate speech end?

Dial M for Multiculturalism

18/12/2008 -  Risto Karajkov Skopje

The government of Skopje is trying hard to pay respect to diversity. Some analysts argue that, despite a difficult start, Macedonia remains the only viable example of successful ethnic co-existence in the Balkans. This may also be an exaggerated statement, but it is worth thinking about it

The New Bulgarian Demons

27/11/2008 -  Francesco MartinoTristan Lefilleul Sofia

"The 'new Bulgarian demons' are nothing else but the old ones dressed in new clothes; a mix of the nomenclature and the secret services of the regime." An interview with German journalist Jürgen Roth, author of a book on organised crime in Bulgaria, which stirred debate in Sofia and beyond

European Reconciliation

14/11/2008 -  Andrea Rossini Vienna

The conference "Dealing with the Past: The Process of Reconciliation in the Western Balkans" was held on November 10-11 in Vienna, Austria. The two days of debate with approximately a hundred participants provided a European dimension to the theme being discussed - the military conflicts during the 1990s in the Balkans

Best friends

25/09/2008 -  Davide Sighele

One of her best-known novels is Amiche per la pelle (Best Friends), a story of four migrant women in Trieste. However, there is also a fifth actor in the story. An interview with the writer Laila Wadia

Mother Theresa of Skopje

04/09/2008 -  Risto Karajkov

Mother Theresa, one of the icons of the 20th century, was born in Skopje. Her place of birth commemorates her with a special award for humanitarian engagement and a Memorial House in the centre of the capital of Macedonia

The Guardian

22/08/2008 -  Risto Karajkov Skopje

Stamen Filipov, often referred to as the " legal terminator", is an elderly man living in Skopje, Macedonia. He has chosen an unusual hobby for his quiet days of retirement: he guards the constitution

The Exception Belgrade didn't see

27/06/2008 -  André Cunha

Few real exchanges of experiences occur between Belgrade and Pristina. One of the few recent attempts to break the isolation was "Exception", a retrospective of the contemporary art scene in Pristina. The exhibition ran in Novi Sad, but not in Belgrade, where extremist protestors violently obstructed it

Powering the New Kosovo

27/06/2008 -  V. Kasapolli Pristina

Kosovo suffers from a chronic lack of energy. To overcome the power shortage, the government gambled on the "Kosovo C" project, a coal-based power station expected to start production in 2015. What is most needed now, though, are a wide public debate and a clear development strategy in the energy sector

Capital Sins

23/06/2008 -  Mihaela Iordache

The second round of local elections in Bucharest brought victory to the independent candidate Sorin Oprescu. The mayor-elect will have to come to grips with the serious problems of an overpopulated city, which has less green space, more illegal construction, and traffic at the verge of collapse

Sarajevo Spring

16/06/2008 -  Federico Sicurella Sarajevo

The demonstrations that took place in the Bosnian capital over the past months, from those against social degradation to those against corruption in politics and in the sports world, mark the growth of a civil society free from nationalist rhetoric