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.
Populism has been vastly present in Croatian media discourse as a common point of reference but it has been almost completely left out from scientific inquiry. Building on the premise that populism is reflected in communication practices of politicians, parties and movements, this paper uses content analysis to examine interviews of the four presidential candidates during election campaign in Croatia in 2014 (first round) and 2015 (second round). We apply a two-level approach to measure populism on two distinct but related levels - as a thin-centered political ideology and as a political communication style. Populism as ideology is examined through the presence of positive references to the people, relationship to political elites and references to ‘dangerous others’.
Elections in Serbia have been held quite often over the past 26 years. Yet, of all elections that have taken place since the introduction of the multiparty system in 1990, the elections held on April 24 2016, were the most confusing. They were held early, but were neither a product of political, nor economic crisis. So why were they necessary?
In this text, I approach Serbian experience of the refugee crisis by referring to three statements taken both as a reference and point of departure: first, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić’s claim that Serbia was “more European that some European states”; second, the former Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanović’s claim that Serbia ought to “spread it [the refugees] around a bit”; and, third, Angela Merkel’s statement that the closure of EU borders could cause another war in the Balkans. These three statements, it is argued, provide convenient access to the official’s claims regarding the refugee crisis in Serbia and its echo in the region and abroad. In addition, in order to identify the views held by common people in Serbia, in the last section I will also briefly discuss popular reactions in Serbia to the issue of refugees in the last several years.
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.