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.
Restitution for the mostly Jewish property and assets that were confiscated by the Nazis during World War II (WWII) in various European states has been a highly debated issue ever since the end of the war. Countries that adhered to the ideas of communism and nationalisation of property in the immediate aftermath of the war failed to address this issue until very recently. Serbia, too, has only began to consider remedying the incredible damage done to its rather small Jewish community. More specifically, in the past decade, Serbia has been trying to repair the damage by passing a series of restitution laws which eventually led to separate legislation on heirless property. This paper explores the substance and application of these laws, as well as the history of discrimination based on which the Serbian Jewish community was persecuted by German occupiers and their collaborators.
The local elections in Croatia were held on 21. May 2017, in very turbulent political circumstances caused by the collapse of an unstable governing coalition between the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) and the populist party The Bridge (Most). The troubled marriage between these two parties dates back to the 2015 parliamentary elections, when the newly established Most, led by Božo Petrov, the mayor of the small southern town of Metković, unexpectedly won 19 parliamentary seats. The media hailed them for achieving “what the third parties have been failing to do for the past 15 years,” calling them “a sensation” and “the real winners” of the 2015 parliamentary elections.
Now almost six months after the inauguration of Donald Trump, it is still very unclear how his foreign policy will deviate from the foreign policy of previous presidents. So far, Trump’s actions have been more symbolic than concrete, as his most important actions have been policy statements or executive orders, such as his immigration ban, which have been held up in court. While symbolic, Trump’s foreign policy statements to the this point represent a dramatic departure from the way previous US presidents have talked about the world and the relationship with US allies. While Trump delayed reaffirmation of the United States’ commitment to Article 5 of the NATO Treaty cast doubt on the United States’ reliability as an ally, he has not yet had the opportunity to show how the United States would act in a crisis.
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.
Two recent books on Kosovo offer some compelling insights and answers as to why international state-builders stumbled in Kosovo: Elton Skendaj’s, Creating Kosovo: International Oversight and the Making of Ethical Institutions and Andrea Lorenzo Capussela’s State-Building in Kosovo: Democracy, Corruption and the EU in the Balkans. Both books are welcome additions to the growing discourse on state-building and touch on some of the more important themes that have recently dominated the literature, including the principle of local ownership, the limitations of technocratic approaches to state-building, and the dilemmas of political corruption and state capture in postwar societies.