History, Culture, Politics, and Travel in the Balkans, Turkey, and Cyprus



Re-emergence of the Balkans: Independence from the Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire had dominated the Balkans for centuries, from the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 all the way into the 20th century. But while the Ottoman sultan may have still controlled a significant amount of land in the Balkans through the end of the First Balkan War (1912-1913), his hold on the region was severely weakened during the 19th century.

The unique cultures of the Serbs, Greeks, Romanians, Montenegrins, Bulgarians, and Albanians had not been submerged over time, and memories of their former medieval states still remained, along with a rising sense of nationalism. Rebellions in the Balkans against the Ottomans had happened before, such as the Banat Uprising by Serbians in 1594 and the Orlov Revolt in Greece in 1770, but none were successful until the 19th century. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the peoples of the Balkans took advantage of Ottoman decline and the interest of the Great Powers to gain their independence from the Ottoman Empire.   Continue reading “Re-emergence of the Balkans: Independence from the Ottoman Empire”

After 27 Years in Power, Djukanovic Steps Down

Despite his party winning last week’s elections, Montenegro’s longtime leader, Milo Đukanović, will be stepping down as prime minister after over 25 years as the country’s top politician. The recent election, involving the polarizing issue of NATO membership and an attempted coup by a group of Serbians, was full of controversy, but Đukanović and his party, the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), emerged victorious. Since the election and the attempted coup, Đukanović has not felt threatened, but his stepping down was undoubtedly decided in light of recent events. Duško Marković, who was nominated by the party as Đukanović’s successor on Tuesday, will most likely take his place.

Milo Djukanovic

This is not the first time Đukanović has stepped down from an official position atop the Montenegrin state, removing himself from politics from 2006-2008 and 2010-2012, but both times he still held substantial influence and power behind the scenes. It remains to be seen whether this is the end of politics for Đukanović, who is still only 54 years old. If history can tell us anything, we should wait and see what 2018 will bring.

Election 2016: Montenegro

Montenegrin political stalwart Milo Đukanović, effectively Montenegro’s leader for the past 25 years and the current prime minister, declared victory after winning the plurality of votes (41%) in the October 16 elections. In comparison, the main opposition candidate, Andrija Mandić, received only 20.6% of the vote. However, the percentage is short of the majority Đukanović wanted, and the election itself has been tumultuous affair to say the least.

In addition to the two main parties, Đukanović’s Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and Mandić’s Democratic Front (DF), there were also a host of other competitors in the election, 17 in total, including candidates from ethnic Bosniak, Albanian, and Croatian parties, each securing at least one seat in the 81-seat parliament. Continue reading “Election 2016: Montenegro”

It’s a Prince…It’s a Bishop…It’s a Vladika!


While princes and bishops may no longer be common, they once ruled Europe secularly and religiously. But even in bygone eras a ruler that held both complete secular and religious authority was rare. One would have hardly thought to look in the corner of the Balkans, in a land that was almost completely controlled by the Islamic Ottoman Empire. In the harrowing mountains of Montenegro, however, a series of prince-bishops, or vladikas, ruled for over a century.

Pass in the Balkan Mountains, Robert Walsh, Constantinople and the Scenery of the Seven Churches of Asia Minor.

Continue reading “It’s a Prince…It’s a Bishop…It’s a Vladika!”

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