A Brief History of Modern Albania

Of all the countries we visited on this trip in which we spent enough time for me to feel I can judge them properly, Albania was the one I liked the most.  This is probably because I’ve been obsessed with Albania for years on a level comparable only with Georgia, and for largely similar reasons.  I was therefore absolutely convinced that I would enjoy Albania, so enjoy it I did. Albania’s recent past is one of the more absurd bits of European post-war history, so I’ll run you through it quickly. After the Second World War, Yugoslavia’s head of state … Continue reading A Brief History of Modern Albania

Croatia and Montenegro

CROATIA: Our journey from Mostar to Dubrovnik can be best described as circuitous.  Dubrovnik is a coastal exclave, isolated from the rest of Croatia by the city of Neum, which is Bosnia and Herzegovina’s only coastline.  In 1699, when Dubrovnik was its own nation-state, it voluntarily gave up control over Neum to the Ottomans, mostly in order to form a powerful buffer between themselves and the Republic of Venice which lay to the north.  The anomaly has remained ever since. The area around Dubrovnik is mountainous, so it is best to approach along the coast.  To do this from Mostar, … Continue reading Croatia and Montenegro

The Other Side of Bosnia

Mostar is, in many ways, another Sarajevo: another divided, destroyed city.  Another city where your political surroundings can change very quickly just by crossing the street.  Another city buried in a valley, surrounded by vantage points from which its enemies could hurl down shells – the Ottomans have a lot answer for. But Mostar comes from the forgotten side of the Bosnian Wars, that period in 1992 when the Bosniaks were under attack not only by the Serbs but also by the Croats.  Much of southern Bosnia towards the coast has traditionally been the preserve of the Croats; it was … Continue reading The Other Side of Bosnia

The Many Arabics of Politics [link]

My new Bosnia post should be up over the weekend.  In the meantime, the rather excellent website muftah.org has just published an article of mine about the use of various forms of the Arabic language in political contexts.  Go and check it out, along with the rest of the site (although I suspect that many people reading this are doing so because of that article). Continue reading The Many Arabics of Politics [link]

Bosnia, or Everybody Hates Dayton

Sarajevo is the capital of a country which has no government.  It isn’t in a state of anarchy or chaos.  It simply feels like the government got up one day and left, and life carried on as normal, with everyone hoping that the government would come back at some point before too much could fall apart.  That day was back in 1995, and the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina are still waiting. We only hear of Bosnia today in connection with the capture or sentence of a former war criminal is a distressing indication of how completely the West has … Continue reading Bosnia, or Everybody Hates Dayton

Post-War Realignment and Multiculturalism

NB.: I’m going to Sarajevo on Friday and will be away for about two weeks.  During that time my posting schedule will be inventive.  Also, this post is late and bit scribbly because I’ve been working on something else, which you will hopefully see in due course, and for that I apologise.  I still think the ideas are valid. There is something fundamentally wrong in the way we in Europe approach the idea of multiculturalism. Now, before we start, let’s get a few things down.  This is not a tract against multiculturalism.  I adore multiculturalism.  Can you imagine how dull … Continue reading Post-War Realignment and Multiculturalism