Turkey's Balkan Renaissance

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.

Journalistic Excellence fellows Gjergj Erebara, Altin Raxhimi, Lavdim Hamidi, Aleksandra Stankovic and Sabina Arslangic will all contribute analysis and feature articles to a special site dedicated to measuring Turkey’s re-emergence as a regional power in the Balkans.

Ankara’s renewed presence in the region has a particular resonance as large swathes of the Balkans were, until just 100 years ago, part of the Ottoman Empire.

 Having successfully pitched story proposals to BIRN editors, the journalists have been given the green light to research the scale of Turkish religious, economic and political influence across the region today.

Tirana-based Raxhimi will take the lead on examining Turkey’s increasing influence within Muslim institutions in the Balkans.

Hamidi, based in Pristina, will oversee the research on how Turkey is re-emerging as an economic power in the region.

Erebara, who is also Tirana-based, will provide analysis on Turkey’s current public image in different Balkan states against the backdrop of its Ottoman Empire past.

Stankovic, based in Belgrade, will examine the complex relations between former foes Serbia and Turkey.

This project is one of the first projects commissioned by the Alumni Initiative, a new programme developed under the umbrella of Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence.

 Programme partners - Robert Bosch Stiftung, Erste Stiftung and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network – established the Alumni Initiative to strengthen profession cooperation between fellows of the Journalistic Excellence programme.

Through the Alumni Initiative, journalists will receive material and financial awards to conduct cross-border research in the Balkan and EU region.

Alumni commissioned to take part in this initiative are expected to deliver journalism of the highest professional standard, promote journalistic excellence and showcase the talent and ambition of programme fellows at home and internationally.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.