Balkans

Bypassing NATO’s Objections, Kosovo Quietly Builds its Army

Adiplomatic quarrel broke out between Slovakia and Hungary after the speaker of the Hungarian parliament, Laszlo Kover, spoke about past Slovak “sins” unforgiven by Hungarians during a ceremony in southwest Slovakia held in memory of Hungarians expelled at the end of World War II. The Slovak Foreign Ministry took umbrage …

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Fate of Migrants at Belarus-EU Border Risks Taking Darker Turn

The decision by Poland and the Baltic nations to legalise the pushback of migrants at the Belarusian border is leading to a dangerous game of ping pong with vulnerable people, as BIRN has witnessed. When BIRN came across Safaa Alnaseri near the village of Minkowce in northeast Poland, on the …

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Courts Chip Away at Migrant ‘Pushback’ Practices in EU

Local courts in several EU countries, including Austria, Italy, and Slovenia, have ruled in favour of refugees and migrants who were pushed back over the bloc’s external borders, but can they stop the practice altogether? It was raining. Ayoub and his six companions were soaked through and shivering in the …

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Welcome Home? Islamic State Returnees Test Balkan Countries’ Ability To Reintegrate – Analysis

The recent repatriation of families of ISIS fighters to Kosovo, Albania and North Macedonia poses a tough challenge to all three countries to rehabilitate them back into society. On July 18, North Macedonia announced that it had repatriated 23 of its citizens who had spent the last few years on …

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Wasted Water: Leaking Pipelines Threaten to Let Balkans Run Dry

As climate change becomes more evident and droughts worsen, Balkan cities need to reduce the huge amount of water leaking each year from pipelines. Every day a woman went to a deep well in the middle of a vast meadow to fill her pots with water. The well had a …

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Afghan Refugee Wave Sharpens EU-Turkey Migration Crisis

Relations between Brussels and Ankara – already strained by earlier crises over refugees – face an even bigger test as the number of Afghans fleeing westwards rapidly increases. Thousands of refugees, mostly from Afghanistan and some other Asian countries, passing the Turkish-Iranian border, make regular new headlines in Turkey. A …

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New Bosnian Peace Envoy Inherits Mission Impossible

Christian Schmidt will need his wits about him – and the firm backing of Germany, the EU and US – if he is to avert a dangerous escalation in Bosnia. Bosnia’s new international High Representative, German Christian Schmidt, touched down at the beginning of August, but he will have scant …

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Montenegro Criticised for Lack of Action against Migrant Smugglers

Montenegro is failing to go after the organised crime groups preying on migrants and refugees trying to cross the country, experts say. With just four cases ending in convictions in the past five years, Montenegro is facing calls to step up prosecution of the smugglers who prey on migrants and …

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POLAND FURTHER RESTRICTS MEDIA FREEDOM, ANGERS US WITH CONTROVERSIAL MEDIA LAW

Despite losing its parliamentary majority, Poland’s ruling party managed to force through a media law that could spell the end of the largest private television station in the country. After a stormy day in the Polish parliament, Law and Justice (PiS) finally managed to scrape enough support late on Wednesday …

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‘Nationalists Want to Convince Croats and Serbs They Can’t Coexist’

This week, while Croatia celebrates its victory in 1995’s Operation Storm and Serbia mourns the victims, nationalists on both sides will be seeking to profit politically from one of the war’s most traumatic events, says sociologist Marijana Stojcic. Every August, relations cool between Croatia and Serbia and officials exchange harsh …

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