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Turkey and the Balkans

The re-emergence of Turkey as a growing economic, political and religious power in the Balkans is the subject of the latest Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence Alumni Initiative project.

Meet the Journalists

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Altin Raxhimi

Altin Raxhimi from Tirana, Albania, is an experienced journalist currently working freelance from Albania for a host of English-language publications, including BIRN, www.reportingproject.net, Inter-Press Service and The Chicago Tribune

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Lavdim Hamidi

Lavdim Hamidi was born in 1982 in Trnovac and is currently living and working in Kosovo. He is an experienced economics reporter and works for the daily newspaper, Zeri

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Gjergj Erebara

Gjergj Erebara was born in 1979 in Tirana, Albania. He has been specialized in economic reporting and currently works as journalist in “Shqip” daily published in Tirana and BalkanInsight.com publication.

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Aleksandra Stankovic

Aleksandra Stankovic was born in 1973 in Pirot, Serbia. She graduated in 1997 in Arabic language and literature from the Faculty of philology at Belgrade University

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Yana Buhrer Tavanier

Yana Buhrer Tavanier is a freelance journalist and a human rights activist based in Sofia, Bulgaria. Previously she was editor of weekly Capital, and worked as a journalist for Tema magazine and daily Dnevnik.

Alumni Stories

/en/file/show/turkish-health-sector-eyes-balkan-market-1.jpg 09 May 2011 / 10:10

Turkish Health Sector Eyes Balkan Market

Altin Raxhimi

The main entrance hall of the Acibadem Maslak Hospital in Istanbul’s European quarter is crammed with relatives of Turkish pop singer Ibrahim Tatlises, who is being treated here for gunshot wounds, and security guards, anxious to keep the press at bay.

21 Apr 2011 / 11:11

Davutoglu: ‘I’m Not a Neo-Ottoman’

Compiled by Altin Raxhimi

Q&A with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

/en/file/show/ethnicity-numbers-and-identity-in-istanbul-1.jpg 24 Mar 2011 / 12:20

Ethnicity, Numbers and Identity in Istanbul

Altin Raxhimi

Salahetting Bolukbas’s 21-year-old niece stands on a glass bar serving hunks of Bosnian burek in the main thoroughfare of Bayrampasa, a suburb on the European, western side of Istanbul.

/en/file/show/ethnicity-numbers-and-identity-in-istanbul-1.jpg 22 Mar 2011 / 10:10

Albanians, Leeks and are Bulgarian Turks Emotionally Cold?

Altin Raxhimi

I have been researching relations between Turkey and the Balkans of late, ahead of my trip to Turkey this week. It’s been fun, well mostly, to discover what the average Turk might think of Albanians, Bosnians and Bulgarians.

/en/file/show/Macedonia-Turkey-The-Ties-That-Bind-1-thumb.jpg 14 Feb 2011 / 10:10

Macedonia-Turkey: The Ties That Bind

Darko Duridanski (link)

While Ankara maintains close diplomatic relations with Skopje, cemented by their shared political enmity toward Greece, Turkey must step carefully when it comes to inter-ethnic disputes within ‘the heart of the Balkans’.

/en/file/show/Turkey-s-Balkan-Shopping-Spree-thumb.jpg 15 Dec 2010 / 10:00

Turkey’s Balkan Shopping Spree

Lavdim Hamidi

Ankara is investing in strategic sectors in the Balkans in order to increase its economic and political influence, but what’s on Turkey’s must-buy list?

/en/file/show/Economics-Override-History-for-Belgrade-and-Ankara-thumb.jpg 15 Dec 2010 / 09:00

Economics Override History for Belgrade and Ankara

Aleksandra Stankovic

After a long period of distant, often frosty relations, Turkey and Serbia appear to be finally warming to each other. But will the Serbian people put aside historic grievances dating back to the Ottoman Empire and welcome Ankara’s Balkan renaissance?

/en/file/show/Albanian-Muslims-grapple-with-religious-identity-thumb.jpg 15 Dec 2010 / 08:55

Albanian Muslims grapple with religious identity

Altin Raxhimi

A Turkish brand of Islam now dominates the country’s religious institutions, as local Muslims struggle to find their own spiritual path.

/en/file/show/Albanians-questions-negative-view-of-Ottomans-thumb.jpg 15 Dec 2010 / 08:50

Albanians question "negative" view of Ottomans

Gjergj Erebara

Aggressive invader or friendly administration? The portrayal of the Ottoman Empire in Albania’s history books remains the subject of fierce debate for Albanians and Turks alike.

/en/file/show/Ottoman-past-haunts-Turkey-s-Balkan-image-thumb.jpg 15 Dec 2010 / 08:45

Ottoman past haunts Turkey's Balkan image

Marcus Tanner

Ankara must be careful projecting itself as a player in a region where the word “Turk” still carries a good deal of historical baggage.

/en/file/show/Turkey-EU-row-stymies-Serb-export-deal-thumb.jpg 15 Dec 2010 / 08:40

Turkey-EU row stymies Serb export deal

Aleksandra Stankovic

A 3m euro beef export deal between Serbia’s impoverished Sandzak region and Turkey has been blocked because of a trade dispute between Ankara and the EU.

/en/file/show/Balkans-stability-impossible-without-Serbia-thumb.jpg 15 Dec 2010 / 08:35

‘Balkans stability impossible without Serbia’

Aleksandra Stankovic

Turkey’s former ambassador to Belgrade says relations with Serbia are at an all time high, but warns his successor’s to-do list is long and difficult. He gives Balkans Insight his end of term report.

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Roma Decade

Twelve countries, including several Balkan states, have signed up to the European Roma Decade 2005-2015 initiative. Halfway through the decade, has any real progress been made?

Meet the Journalists

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Nikoleta Popkostadinova

Nikoleta Popkostadinova from Sofia, Bulgaria, is a freelance journalist specializing in social affairs.  She has worked as a reporter for the Bulgarian weekly Capital and Transitions Online, and as an editor for the monthly magazine Vice

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Barbara Matejcic

Barbara Matejcic from Zagreb, Croatia, is a freelance journalist specialising in social issues

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Adrian Mogos

Adrian Mogos is a journalist from Bucharest, Romania. He currently works at Jurnalul National as Head of the Investigative Department

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Mircea Dan Opris

Mircea Dan Opris is a Romanian investigative reporter and photographer for the national daily newspaper Jurnalul National

Alumni Stories

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14 Dec 2011 / 11:17

Roma Funds Squandered in Romania

Adrian Mogoş

As Brussels pressures Bucharest to improve living conditions for its Roma population, thousands of euros paid by the EU and Romanian government to do just that appears to have been wasted on inflated salaries and exorbitant rents and expenses, BIRN can reveal.

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08 Aug 2011 / 12:12

All Eyes on EU’s Roma Framework

Nikoleta Popkostadinova

In the wake of last year’s expulsions from France, the EU’s Roma framework has promised to take a tougher line on monitoring member states’ efforts to integrate marginalised minorities. Not everyone is convinced.

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11 Jul 2011 / 14:34

EU Commissioner: Roma Exclusion ‘Getting Worse’

Compiled by Nikoleta Popkostadinova

Living conditions for Europe’s Roma are worsening and all European states, including western ones, are responsible for changing that, says László Andor, the EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion.

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08 Jul 2011 / 13:38

Little to Celebrate Halfway through Europe’s ‘Roma Decade’

Nikoleta Popkostadinova

Despite high expectations, the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005-2015 initiative is yet to make its mark and significantly improve the lot of Roma communities, say activists and campaigners.

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19 Apr 2011 / 09:56

French Payouts Tempt More Roma Immigrants

Adrian Mogos

The village of Berini lies 20 km south of the city of Timişoara in western Romania. The first historical record of the village, whose name means lamb in English, dates back to the 14th century.

18 Apr 2011 / 11:11

‘Roma Decade’ Passes Bulgarian Roma By

Nikoleta Popkostadinova

Nobody ever bothered building access roads to Block 20, an infamous housing estate in the south-eastern Bulgarian town of Yambol. Asphalt, electricity, running water and sewage pipes were abstract concepts for residents. Even windows were a rare luxury.