Tag Archives: Balkans

Bosnian Serbs challenge Dayton order in referendum

Oct 16th, 2016

Bosnian Serbs challenge Dayton order in referendum

BANJA LUKA — Bosnian Serbs voted on Sunday in a referendum that could be the boldest challenge to date to the constitutional order, created by the Dayton Accords which ended the war in 1995. Milorad Dodik, the president of Republika Srpska has been threatening since 2006, when he came to power, to hold referenda on questions ranging from territorial separation of the Serb entity to the authority of Bosnian state judiciary, which many Serbs see as biased, and the national holiday. His party’s platform includes an explicit threat to hold a referendum on independence in 2018.

After Political Appointment in Bulgaria, Rage Boils Over

Jun 28th, 2013

After Political Appointment in Bulgaria, Rage Boils Over

By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER SOFIA, Bulgaria — Delyan Peevski’s mother used to head the national lottery and leads a growing media empire with strong political and economic connections in this small, impoverished and notoriously corrupt Balkan nation. So perhaps it was not surprising that the appointment of Mr. Peevski, 32, to head the powerful State Agency for National Security sparked protests that have been attended by thousands every day over the past two weeks and show no sign of losing steam.

New Bridge Over Danube Helps Dissolve Old Enmities

Jun 14th, 2013

New Bridge Over Danube Helps Dissolve Old Enmities

By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER VIDIN, Bulgaria — The European Union hardly basks in popular favor these days. But in this isolated corner of the bloc’s poorest periphery, leaders and locals on Friday celebrated a tangible benefit of membership — a $340 million bridge spanning the Danube that should help strengthen trade and ties between two impoverished members, Romania and Bulgaria.

Bulgaria’s Unholy Alliances

Mar 7th, 2013

Bulgaria’s Unholy Alliances

By MATTHEW BRUNWASSER SOFIA — His enthronement as patriarch of Bulgaria, spiritual leader of millions of Orthodox believers here, was supposed to stir pride and moral togetherness in an impoverished country confronting a vacuum in political leadership and widespread economic pain. Instead, the installation of His Holiness Neofit last month, in a ceremony replete with byzantine splendor, served as one more reminder that Bulgaria had never really thrown off the inheritance of 40 years of rigid Communist rule and all the duplicitous dealings that went with it.

No More Hiding From the State

Jun 26th, 2000

No More Hiding From the State

A Bulgarian village makes amends with its ethnic complexities by Matthew Brunwasser BREZNITSA –  From his quiet spot under the willow tree in the village square, between the church and the mosque, 66-year-old Mustafa Cholac has seen plenty of changes. Bulgarian Muslims In 1972, Communist Party officials told Muslim men they would have to report to the community center on the square, and look through a book to choose Christian names for family members. Cholac was one of about 200 who gathered here to protest. They were brutally crushed in a crackdown that left eight dead. After communism fell in 1989, a bus left the square with men headed for the capital Sofia to demand their names back. Today, things are a bit different. In the shadow of the media spotlight swirling around the violent ethnic hatred in the former Yugoslavia 100 miles away, Breznitsans are not trying to avenge the wrongs of the past- instead, they are concentrating on reconciliation. “We have gotten along well with Christians before and after the killings,” says Cholac. “We understood that the decision came from the communists, not from the Christian people. There is no hatred here.” Names had been changed before. The first communist program to “Bulgarianize” the country’s Muslims came in 1963, as Communist leader Todor Zhivkov defended name changes as merely reversing the process the Turks started when they forcibly converted Christians to Islam. The names [...]