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 conclusion poses a number of questions related to policy issues and the censuses in the post-Yugoslav states. It is argued that censuses are always more than just a technical counting exercise. Census discussions in Western Europe tend to focus on regional funding, infrastructure support and long-term policy planning, and can be as contested and heated as questions over identity, religion and mother tongue in the post-Yugoslav states. However, identity-related questions in an area in which identity is still in flux and in which fundamental demographic changes have taken place recently, prevent any focus on more policy-oriented discussions.
The Croatian Democratic Union (Hrvatska demokratska zajednica, HDZ) has won yet another election in Croatia. After the success it had on the European and presidential elections, the so-called „Patriotic Coalition“, led by the aforementioned party has won 59 out of 151 seats in the Parliament. Their opponents, a slightly-altered version of the current leading coalition led by the leftist Social Democratic Party (Socijaldemokratska partija Hrvatske, SDP), won 56 seats. However, the results are far from final. According to the Croatian Constitution, the party that would be given the mandate to form a government has to assure the support of 76 seats in the Parliament. So far, none of the new major parties has succeeded in that task.
The censuses in the Western Balkan countries deserve special attention as they are grouped in a region with a conflictual and difficult past. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia fell apart in the early 1990s, resulting in the current configuration of independent countries (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). This dissolution process has troubled the region for years with wars that have cost many lives, and which still remain an important event in the minds of many people in the region as well as in the minds of the hundreds of thousands that have fled the region and built a life in other European countries.
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.