Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's Time to Move

Balkan File is going to be packing up its archives and moving to a new web address next week. I'm currently tweeking the design - I'm a bit sick of the limited and cluttered looking Blogger designs.

I'm currently in the process of transferring all past posts to the new site - unfortunately, I have to do it manually and will loose all the comments. It's a bit sad, but I'm sure you'll all make up for it with new comments in the future! :-)

I hope you will all follow Balkan File over to its new home when the move is complete by updating your RSS feeds and bookmarks. I'll post the new address once everything is sorted out.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

So Long Summer

It seems that summer is well and truly over. After weeks and weeks of bright sunshine, clear blue skies and temperatures ranging from 30C to 40C, it was quite a shock to the system at the weekend. Cloud. Rain. 9C-12C.

At first I thought it was just a 'freak' day - and was quite happy to have some relief from the sweltering, summer heat - but no, it's still raining, it's still cold and I don't feel like going outside anymore.

See ya next year summer. Hello autumn, you've made a good start.

PS: I actually quite like autumn and winter, I just would have preferred a gradual transition!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blog Roundup: Albania

Photo: foC

Ever since discovering that Albania, wedged between Italy, Greece and (former) Yugoslavia, existed, the country has fascinated me. As a teen at high school, I remember some UNICEF workers giving us a lecture, and I was very intrigued by the thought of an extremely poor country in the middle of Europe (at that time, I thought everywhere in Europe was as developed as the UK, Sweden or France - yeah I was a bit clueless at that age). I read some proper history books on the country and was fascinated with the idea of the world's most isolated state (prior to 1992) being right next door to Italy, and the fact that I had no idea it was even there (and quite possibley just because there was a king called Zog).

I've never been to Albania, even though I've been harping on about going for the last 7 years. I will go, one day, it's not that far away to be honest. But, for the time being, I'm quite content with the very interesting snapshots of life in Albania that the following blogs offer:

Inside Albania - A foreigner, who has lived in Tirana for 'long enough', shares his/her thoughts and experiences of living in the capital 'that never sleeps', and claims to still be 'regularly amazed' by life in Albania.

A Nevada Yankee in King Zog's Court - The blog of 'an American who accidentally stumbled into Albania and fell in love'.

Stepping Stones - Kim, an expat from Canada, shares some nice, homely tales of her life in Tirana, a far cry from her home city of Toronto. Kim also has some interesting photos of daily life in Tirana and other Albanian towns and villages.

Living in Shkoder, Albania - Kolin, a fellow Scotsman, abandoned his life in cold, dreary Scotland and settled in Shkoder, a town on the Montenegrin-Albanian border. Living with his Albanian wife and three children, Kolin shares his thoughts and observations about living in Albania.

So, if you're intrigued by this small Balkan country, I recommend that you grab a coffee and check out some of these blogs. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Some More Kind Words

One day after reports that a Serbian State Secretary had suggested that Serbia should import Asian women, more interesting and down-right shocking words were uttered today by Serbian Radical Party officials (nothing new there then) at the first parliament session following a one-month break.

Instead of debating the agenda, Serbian Radical Party officials took the stand and attacked Serbian Prime Minister, blocking the parliament from working effectively. Sure, if you think the parliament is a sham, by all means protest about it. However, there's no need to curse and insult people.

Serbian Radical Party official Nataša Jovanović, speaking about Serbian President Boris Tadić said, 'let his seed run dry, may the sun never warm him, let God's punishment come upon him. Boris Tadić is the greatest traitor. The curse will reach everyone one day.' It is elegantly put, but is parliament really the place to be saying such things? She also added that Serbian curses never end and that she thought everyone learned that in school. Of course they did!

Next to step up on the parliamentary floor was the always lovable SRS official Vjerica Radeta (who is no stranger to controversy). She proceeded to praise Radovan Karadžić and Vojislav Šešelj as Serbian heroes before moving on to declare a 'curse' on any Serbian Radical Party member, as well as his seed and his family, who had met with Tadić after the pro-Karadžić meeting on July 29, 2008, at which a Radical Party sympathiser, Ranko Panić, died. Of course, his death is blamed on 'dictator' Boris Tadić, and not the riotous actions of young hooligans and the subsequent police attempts to retain order.

I really am amazed at the words and sentences which are uttered by some Serbian Radical Party members, you just don't say that sort of stuff in parliament! I understand that they are used to talking this way from the situation in the 1990s and obviously they feel very strongly about their cause - but can't they just be a bit more civil and intelligent about it? Someone needs to buy the Radical party an up-to-date calender and show them it's 2008 and not 1998.

The Serbian Radical Party only seem to want to move the country backwards with their support of indicted war criminals and labelling Boris Tadić a traitor. The only traitors here are those whose actions and words are bad for Serbia and its people and their future - and those actions and words mainly come from the Radicals.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Importing Asian Women

The Serbian Labour Minister Rasim Ljajić had to apologise today for a statement made by State Secretary Željko Vasiljević advising that Serbia should import 100,000 women from Asia to make up for a lack of females in some rural areas of the country.

You really do wonder what goes on inside the heads of some Serbian officials. Perhaps, they should think before they speak and choose their words a bit more carefully. I think the correct phrase would be 'encourage foreign immigration' and not 'import Asian women.'