26 February 2007
Balkan cities and their secrets are at the heart of a new ESI project supported by ERSTE Foundation in Vienna. Why is Novi Sad, one of the wealthiest places in Serbia and a centre of alternative culture, run by the Serb Radical Party? How is the relationship between Istanbul, the largest city of the region, and the rest of the Balkans changing? Is Tirana able to cope with its growth? What is the secret of the dynamism of Timisoara in Western Romania? What are the secrets of Pristina's past and present?
To answer these and other questions ESI analysts have embarked on a journey from Rome to Istanbul across all of South East Europe. One output is our interactive map of the Balkans: a landscape of stories, books, people and, thanks to Irish photographer Alan Grant, fascinating pictures. We hope you enjoy exploring it.
This is work in progress: the current map is only the beginning, and it will grow in depth in the coming weeks and months, as we try to capture more of the richness and dynamism of the Balkans. We will add more portraits of cities, more portraits of people and highlight more books about the region that we have found interesting and recommend.
One of the cities ESI has studied as part of this project is Leskovac. In the 19th century it was known as the 'Manchester of Serbia', dominated by private textile entrepreneurs. During socialism its textile sector expanded. In 1989 it employed more than 10,000 people. Today this sector has almost completely collapsed.
Across the Balkans the textile and clothing sector is booming today - from Bulgaria and Romania to Turkey and Macedonia. Its expansion and growing exports to the European Union have preserved hundreds of thousands of jobs. Only Serbia has seen a collapse that has lasted for almost 15 years. Why has this happened? What has been the impact on people?
Many of the answers to this can be found in Leskovac. They are discussed in our study The Cost of Non-Europe. You can also visit Leskovac on our map of the Balkans: there is additional material (Mr. Li goes to Leskovac, Vesna's fears, pictures).
(On 27 February ESI will present this research in Haus der Musik in Vienna, together with Goran Svilanovic and Milica Djilas).
Turkey in Flux
On our website you now also find the latest issue of Turkish Policy Quarterly on "Turkey in Flux", edited by ESI Senior Analyst Nigar Göksel. It includes an article by the German Interior Minister on the German Islam Conference, an article on the integration and official dialogue with Muslims in Italy and Germany, as well as a series of articles on questions of identity, fears and emotions in Turkish politics.
On Mount Olympus – Reactions
Our most recent report on the UN and the consequences of police de-certification in Bosnia (On Mount Olympus) is creating a wider debate: a Reuters story has been carried by media in many different countries; the International Herald Tribune, the New York Times and the German quality daily Süddeutsche Zeitung have written about the issue, as have various media in Bosnia. The full Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian translation of the report is now also available on our website (Na planini Olimp).
As always we are looking forward to any feedback and reactions,
Many best wishes,