Dear Reader, welcome to the first issue of Contemporary Southeastern Europe! This peer-reviewed journal is published as an open-access academic journal, by the Centre for Southeast European Studies. We are firmly committed to the highest standards of academic publishing, including rigorous, double-blind, peer review and making research available, free of charge, to an interested audience. As subscription costs rise and many libraries have to save resources, we are committed to making high quality research available for researchers without cost.
This article draws on Lev Grinberg’s notion of political space, understood as symbolic spheres in which political actors represent and further their interests, identities and agendas. The political space notion is designed to analyze and criticize political power and its dynamics in cases such as the Serbian one, where governments do not rely on heavy-handed control of civil society. I suggest here that following the wars of the 1990s, the democratic governments in Serbia have excluded the war veteran population from the political space of representation, since gaining control over this population was perceived as a crucial step in the attempt to silence any public reckoning of the nation’s criminal past.
The presidential election that was held in Croatia on the last Sunday of 2014 (first round) and the second Sunday of 2015 (second round) resulted in a tight victory for Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, the candidate of the right-wing Croatian Democratic Union (Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica, HDZ) and another seven right-wing parties, over the incumbent Ivo Josipović, the candidate of the governing Social Democratic Party (Socijaldemokratska partija Hrvatske, SDP) and another sixteen parties of the left and centre. Although presidential competencies in Croatia, which is a parliamentary democracy, are not extensive, the presidential election provoked great interest not only in the country, but also internationally.
What does it take to win the Nobel Prize for Peace? Alfred Nobel was quite precise: You have to be "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations“. To the surprise of many it was not only the representatives of the Albanian and Serbian lobbying groups in the US, but also the European Social Democrats which came to the conclusion that EU diplomacy chief Catherine Ashton, Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić and his Kosovo counterpart Hashim Thaçi had met Alfred Nobel’s description. Their achievment: The Agreement they signed on April 19th in Brussels. The American lobbyists call it a „key and historic watershed“, the Social democrats more cautious „a window of opportunity“ to substantially advance peace.
When the future or, more specifically, a redirection of South-East European studies is discussed in a series of essays in this journal, one has to have in mind that this is not the first discussion of this kind – and for sure not the concluding one. In an increasingly globalizing world, area studies are under permanent critical observation. What can particular findings related to an area contribute to the understanding of the whole, the global, and how is the global represented in the particularities of an area? However, this kind of critical self-reflection that can sometimes result in self-deprecation was not always the case in the long history of the study of South-East Europe.