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Balkanium

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

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Politics

The Global Migrant Crisis and the Impact of Syria

The number of migrants worldwide is at a high point: 244 million in 2015, over 40% more migrants than in 2000. While some of the migrants move by choice, a substantial number are not so lucky. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) calculated that 65.3 million were forcibly displaced “as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations,” the highest number since the end of World War II. And this number is on the rise: 12.4 million people were newly displaced in 2015. Of the 65.3 million, 21.3 million were considered refugees. Continue reading “The Global Migrant Crisis and the Impact of Syria”

Flouting International Law: The Turkish Military Presence in Cyprus

When Cyprus became independent from Great Britain in 1960, the Treaty of Guarantee was signed between Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, and Great Britain. Article I bans Cyprus from unifying with another state. Article II requires Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom (the guarantor powers) to respect the territorial integrity of Cyprus. Article IV allows the guarantor powers to re-establish the status quo in Cyprus:

“In the event of a breach of the provisions of the present Treaty, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom undertake to consult together with respect to the representations or measures necessary to ensure observance of those provisions. In so far as common or concerted action may not prove possible, each of the three guaranteeing Powers reserves the right to take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs created by the present Treaty.” Continue reading “Flouting International Law: The Turkish Military Presence in Cyprus”

Old Mostar Bridge: A Missed Opportunity in International Law

The Bosnian and Herzegovinian city of Mostar is known for its cosmopolitan nature. Churches, mosques, and synagogues lay next to each other and diverse groups of peoples walked side by side for centuries under Ottoman, Austrian, and Yugoslav rule. The city developed a unique type of architecture that fused styles from the various traditions that came to Mostar, which still has elements of its Ottoman past in its bazaar and neighborhood layout. The city is dominated by the Ottoman-built bridge which gave Mostar its name, the Stari Most.

Postcard of the Mostar Bridge, 1911
Stari Most in a 1911 Postcard

Continue reading “Old Mostar Bridge: A Missed Opportunity in International Law”

What Could Be Won and Lost With Turkey’s Referendum

On Sunday, a referendum that will change Turkish history was decided. In a 51.3% to 48.7% victory, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s party, the AKP, won the referendum, which will usher in 18 changes to the Turkish constitution. The one that was given the greatest coverage was the changes to Article 104, which will end the current parliamentary political system in Turkey, replacing it with an executive presidential system. But all of the changes together create a system that could potentially keep Erdoğan and the AKP in power for a long time. Continue reading “What Could Be Won and Lost With Turkey’s Referendum”

Tasting the Sarma: Serbian Presidential Candidate Beli Not Just a Joke

Although Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić easily won the Serbian presidential election on Sunday with 56.1% of the vote, one of his opponents also stole headlines. Luka Maksimović, a 25-year old university student, ran in the election as Ljubiša “Beli” Preletačević, a satirical figure whose name means “the guy in white who switches his beliefs for political gain.” 

Student and 2017 presidential candidate Luka Maksimovic, 25, poses for a picture as his alter ego 'Ljubisa "Beli" Preletacevic' in Belgrade
Beli, played by Luka Maksimovic, in his signature white suit. | Marko Djurica, Reuters

Continue reading “Tasting the Sarma: Serbian Presidential Candidate Beli Not Just a Joke”

President Erdoğan vs. the World: The Turkish Referendum and Flaring European Tensions

Recep_Tayyip_Erdogan Gobierno de Chile
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan | Gobierno de Chile

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the current president of Turkey, has been at the forefront of Turkish politics for over the past decade. The divisive leader has built up a powerful, technically democratic regime, with strong currents of authoritarianism. The past 14 years have been a series of steps that have brought Erdoğan greater and greater power. Last July’s attempted coup brought Erdoğan to his greatest height yet. In its wake, Erdoğan purged the military, fired thousands of educators, and arrested dozens of journalists.

But now Erdoğan has gone a step further: with the same powerful rhetoric that helped bring him to power all those years ago in Turkey, he has violently lashed out against Germany and the Netherlands. Continue reading “President Erdoğan vs. the World: The Turkish Referendum and Flaring European Tensions”

Beyond the Balkans: Nationalism’s Effect on Immigration

Immigration has at times been an issue for many countries. When a nation gains a large body of immigrants, it almost inevitably raises the question, for better of for worse, of what is that nation’s identity. But when does this self-examination of the nation turn from an understanding of oneself into a rejection of the other in society?

greeks-in-patras-emigrating-to-the-u-s-1910
Greeks Emigrating from Patras to the United States, 1910 | Library of Congress

Continue reading “Beyond the Balkans: Nationalism’s Effect on Immigration”

With Sevil Shhaideh, Romania Could Make History

Romania’s Partidul Social Democrat (PSD; Social Democratic Party), which won Romania’s December 11 parliamentary elections, could make history for Romania. Liviu Dragnea, the chairman of the PSD, proposed Sevil Shhaideh as Romania’s next prime minister. Shhaideh would not only be the first female prime minister of Romania; she would also be the first Muslim prime minister of the country.

Continue reading “With Sevil Shhaideh, Romania Could Make History”

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_dukanovic
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.

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