Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Kosovo Adopts a New Flag Filled with Unclear but European Imagery

Balkan Travellers   
18 February 2008 | At the same session in which it declared Kosovo’s independence yesterday, the Kosovo Parliament also picked the flag of the world’s youngest country.

The new flag is reminiscent of the European flag. On a blue background, Kosovo’s flag depicts a yellow map of the province topped by six white starts.

The colours are said to represent Kosovo’s aspirations towards Europe and the EU, while the stars symbolise the ethnic communities that inhabit the province – the Albanian majority and the five minorities: Roma Egyptians and Ashkali, collectively known as RAE; Bosniak; Gorani; Turk; and the largest one – the Serbs.

Though you wouldn’t know that from looking at images of the independence celebrations in Kosovo’s capital Priština, which showed euphoric Kosovo Albanians dancing and singing on the street, wrapped in the red Albanian flag emblazoned with the black double-headed eagle and waving around the US stars and stripes.

The black and red, double-headed eagle is considered by Albanians as their oldest symbol, while the American flags showed the Kosovo Albanians’ gratitude for the US support for Kosovo’s independence.

As it embarks on the nation-building project started by the declaration of independence, Kosovo has to find new symbols for its state identity that are both its own and not offensive or exclusive to parts of the population of the new country. As wrote, however, the space between the US president and the language of suffering and hate seems despairingly empty.

The choice of flag seems like a first positive step in this direction, though there are still ambiguities around its symbols and how it was chosen. It is yet unclear whether the design was among the suggestions submitted as part of a campaign for the nomination of national symbols.

Secondly, the map imprinted on the flag suggests that Kosovo is counting on retaining the province’s entire territory, hoping that Northern Mitrovica and the Serb enclaves to the north will not secede.

As the confusion clears, adoption of other national symbols is sure to follow. According to international media, composers are trying to come up with a national anthem and lawmakers will begin circulating draft copies of a new constitution this month.




Foreign Wines Outnumbered Bulgarian Ones on Vinaria 2014 Competition

11 March 2014 | National wine tastings, preceding Bulgaria’s biggest wine fair, Vinaria 2014, started today with a surprise: foreign wines exceeded in number Bulgarian ones first time in history of the competition. Full Story

Curiosity Chest

The Balkans: Natural Born Historians

The obsession with history is so commonplace on the Balkans that local people do not even notice it. For outsiders, however, it quickly becomes a part of the experience of being precisely in the Balkans and nowhere else. Raymond Detrez, a Belgian scholar of Bulgarian and Balkan Studies, describes this sometimes entertaining and other times annoying, and even dangerous, social phenomenon. Full Story

Useful Reads

In Sfakia: Passing Time in the Wilds of Crete (2008) | By Peter Trudgill

Crete has long been acknowledged as one of the most singular and unique parts of Greece. Its people keep a fierce hold on their traditions, customs and history. Practically a country of its own, this vast island looms over all others in Greece. Nevertheless, as In Sfakia author Peter Trudgill aptly notes in his preface, “some parts of Crete are more special than others, and Sfakia, on the remote south coast, is certainly one of those.” Full Story


Serbia Surprises with Choice of Little-Known Singer for Eurovision

12 March 2009 | A little-known Serbian singer and composer, Marko Kon, has surprised many by emerging as his country's representative at the 54th Eurovision in Moscow.
Full Story