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January 2016

Human rights issues still plague the Balkans

Human rights - Auschwitz sculpture

Human Rights Watch released their 2016 report earlier this week, a 600+ page tome examining human rights issues from around the globe. Around half the world’s countries are given their own chapter in the report. In the Balkans, Bosnia and Serbia/Kosovo were singled out, while Croatia received condemnation for its treatment of refugees.

Even simply skimming the report makes it clear that Balkan countries face many of the same human rights issues: Failing to treat the”other” – whether that’s a refugee or a minority – with full respect. Difficulties providing the proper resources for an independent judiciary. The inability to fully relinquish power over the media. If other states from the region had been given more attention, similar problems would likely have been highlighted.

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What is burek?

"Zeljanica (7185484943)" by Francisco Antunes from London, United Kingdom - ZeljanicaUploaded by Smooth_O. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

I’d heard tale of the mythical burek before I’d even purchased my first plane ticket to the Balkans. As a group of us sat discussing another mouthwatering regional dish, cevapi, and bemoaning its absence in our lives, a friend rolled her eyes. Everyone always talks about those little sausages, she pointed out, rather dismissively. No, what we were really lacking was easy access to burek.

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Take me, then, to a Venice evening

Venice Grand Canal small

The sound of the water edging against the boat, lapping against the side of the canal, should be barely audible, yet it seems to bounce along the walls of this narrow street. I’m grateful, though, for this auditory intrusion: it reminds me the pavement does in fact end. Considering that in Venice, one solitary glass of wine goes straight to my head, this reminder was certainly welcome.

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Balkan Explorer Best of 2015


#BestNineIn2015 is quite the popular hashtag over on Instagram, revealing users’ most liked photos of the year. In the spirit of the tag, I put together Balkan Explorer’s own “Best of 2015,” highlighting nine of reasons I choose to live where I do. May this clear up some of the mystery and confusion and head-scratching that inevitably occurs when I say I voluntarily reside in Belgrade, Serbia.

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