Aug 6th, 2011
In the refugee camps along Turkey’s border with Syria, at least five babies born to Syrian women have been named Recep Tayyip, in honor of the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan. They are grateful to Turkey for opening its border to more than 15,000 refugees fleeing the violence next door. But at the same time, many refugees feel like prisoners in the refugee camps. While Turkey positions itself as a leading democracy in the Middle East, the refugees are not allowed to leave the camps — or talk to journalists. From the Yayladagi tent city, on the Turkish – Syrian border, Matthew Brunwasser reports.
Aug 6th, 2011
In Syria, the opposition to rule by President Bashir Al-Assad comes from a wide variety of groups, economically and socially. There are long time Syrian dissidents in exile, protestors inside Syria and refugees who have fled the current crackdown. Many of the groups met in Turkey last month and found it difficult to come together. One opposition group, made up of refugees who fled northern Syria, are working from a house in Antakya in southern Turkey. Matthew Brunwasser went to visit.
Aug 6th, 2011
The landmark was built as a museum for the late Enver Hoxha. The Albanian leader kept Stalinism alive in Europe for decades after the Soviet dictator died in 1953. The pyramid is still standing but it’s starting to crumble. In fact, during bloody anti-government demonstrations in Tirana back in February protestors broke off pieces of the pyramid to throw at other government buildings. Albanians have been trying to figure out what to do with the pyramid for years. Just last month, the parliament passed a law to tear it down. Even so, opponents of the demolition are gathering petitions to save the building. And the current president is deciding whether to sign the bill or side with the protesters. From Tirana, Matthew Brunwasser gives us a tour of the controversial pyramid.
Aug 6th, 2011
By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER VITEZ, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA — Every morning at the local grade school formerly known as Brotherhood and Unity, the Catholic Croat children head to the right, and the Bosnian Muslims head to the left. The Croats study in the school’s cheerful looking main building, which was recently renovated. The Muslims attend class in the crumbling, dingy annex next door. The school ended up behind the Croat line during the 1992-95 war that killed some 100,000 people. It has remained there ever since.
Jun 23rd, 2011
By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER SKOPJE, Macedonia — In the view of many here, the neighbors have been bullying this little Balkan country for a long time. Bulgarians see its people as Bulgarians with accents. Serbia used to consider the land Southern Serbia and refuses to recognize its church. Greece accuses the country of nothing less than stealing its name, history and national symbols. This week, Macedonia pushed back. In a precisely calibrated display of political and civil engineering, workers lifted a 14.5-meter, or 47-foot, bronze statue of Alexander the Great, weighing 30 tons, and placed it on a 15-meter-high pedestal in the central square of Skopje, the capital.
Jun 2nd, 2011
By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER BELGRADE — In a country that nurtures a grudge about an event that occurred more than 600 years ago, once-fiery Serbian nationalism now seems strangely muted. With the 68-year-old General Ratko Mladic settling into his prison cell in The Hague, the relative silence with which Serbs greeted his arrest and extradition speaks volumes about the turnaround taken by the country’s leadership and the fading of nationalism as an issue from the political stage. A Belgrade street protest on May 29 against the arrest of Mr. Mladic drew an estimated 10,000 people, smaller than the crowds that typically gather after important soccer matches. The major political parties accepted the extradition, after 15 years of mounting international pressure, as the price of getting closer to Europe.
May 29th, 2011
By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER LAZAREVO, Serbia — This village near the Romanian border is Everytown, an indistinguishable collection of tidy lawns and trimmed trees, where the local people have been rocked by the news that Ratko Mladic, one of the world’s most wanted war crimes suspects, had been found hiding out among them. They say it couldn’t be true. “There is no chance that he was living here,” said the village mayor, Radmilo Stanisic, reflecting the general sentiment in this tightknit community. “Everyone knows everyone here. We’re like a big family.”
May 22nd, 2011
How would you like the government to filter your internet usage? Family style? Children style? Domestic style? Or would you prefer the standard package? Internet users in Turkey will soon have to make that choice. Turkey often presents itself as the leading democracy in the middle east but free speech advocates say internet censorship there is among the heaviest in the world. And its about to get worse. As Matthew Brunwasser reports from Istanbul, protestors gathered across Turkey to express their opposition.
May 21st, 2011
Albania has had a vibrant if somewhat messy democracy since the fall of communism in the early 1990s. But while Albanian politics have evolved, other aspects of society have remained in the dark ages. In murder cases, victims families sometimes refer to a traditional legal code dating back to the 15th Century. It’s called the Kanun. Meditators are now trying to end this practice and resolve conflicts peacefully. From Fan in Northern Albania, Matthew Brunwasser reports.
May 21st, 2011
International non-governmental organizations often play a key role in developing new nations or rebuilding wartorn ones. NGOs are doing both those things in South Sudan. Africa’s newest country is in the process of emerging from a region that was torn apart by decades of civil war. Right now South Sudan is almost entirely run by NGOs. From the capital Juba, Matthew Brunwasser reports.