Stories written by Vesna Peric Zimonjic
Vesna Peric Zimonjic is a freelance journalist working from the Balkan region with more than three decades of experience. She has contributed to IPS since the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia in 1991. Vesna also conducts political analyses of the region and contributes to the London-based daily The Independent, BBC World Service and German Deutsche Welle radio and television.
The 100-year anniversary of World War I (1914-18) may have come and gone, but the role of Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip – the assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand – remains controversial in the turbulent history of the Balkans. For some he was a terrorist, for others a hero.
The Balkans region is living one of its most horrible springs ever, after the worst flooding in 120 years took 47 lives and witnessed evacuation of dozens of thousands of Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs in a matter of days last week.
Thousands of people have rallied in streets of major Bosnian cities since last week, demanding social justice, decent living conditions and resignation of top officials who they openly blame for unprecedented poverty and the country's economic decline.
One of the best kept secrets of former Yugoslavia is out in the open after the online release of the names of 16,101 inmates of Goli Otok, or the Naked Island, the country’s only gulag – a Soviet system of forced labour camps – created 65 years ago.
In the early morning hours, as hundreds of people grab their breakfast at a busy bakery in Beogradska Street in the Serbian capital, a very special basket quickly fills up with croissants, rolls and breads. It is the ‘solidarity basket’.
This year, summer in the Balkans has been nice and warm, leaving behind a land of plenty, and enough food on the table. Except that people are talking about tomatoes “that don’t taste as they used to,” watermelons that are too watery, cabbages that are hard to slice through and onions that do not sting your eyes.
The global economic crisis has not hit Serbia for the first time, but this year it has bitten into Serbian culture. State subsidies for theatres, festivals, films and exhibitions have almost hit the bottom. State support for films is down to zero.
The influential Serbian Orthodox Church publicly crossed a line recently when two of its top clergymen took part in a Belgrade rally with messages amounting to direct threats against the lives of government officials.
On Apr. 19, Serbia and Kosovo put years of animosity aside when their prime ministers Ivica Dacic and Hashim Thaci initialled the first ever agreement between Belgrade and Pristina that should lead to normalisation of relations between the two former enemies.
More than 10,000 people living in the coastal Adriatic town Dubrovnik have done what many others in the region could never. They are holding a referendum on a controversial development project that they believe endangers their city.
Stojan Kovacevic spent last weekend going about his usual routine in his tiny dwelling in the village of Grocka, near Belgrade: cleaning the kitchen and bedroom, going to the local green market and watching TV.
Former university graduates, current students and professors are embroiled in an unusual scandal this exam season, as news reports filtering in from around the Balkans reveal a major online trade in stolen final papers.
Serbs awoke on Monday morning to a regime change. A close ballot in the presidential run-off Sunday spelled the end for incumbent Boris Tadic, who served two terms as head of the Democratic Party that toppled former dictator Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, as Serbs cast their votes for the populist Tomislav Nikolic, who begins his five-year term today.
As the May 6 date for Serbia’s general election inches closer, two young Belgrade playwrights have capitalised on the electoral war of words between the pro-European camp and conservative nationalists to highlight the dark side of propaganda and expose the omnipotence of party membership.