The conflicts, social and political turmoils we have witnessed in the western Balkans in the last three decades were, in the minds of many leaders and participants, centred around collective identities whose differences allegedly could not be settled in a nonviolent way. And still, more then 20 years after the wars, patriarchal, homophobic and exclusive tendencies are dominating in the region, shaping a climate of intolerance, of exclusion, of the radical negation of all things humane and rational.
On this issue of Perspectives, you will find stories written by citizens in the true meaning of that word. They describe what the “right for the city” means to them. Why they perceive their activism as fighting for a common rather than an individual right, and why they choose to fight for one of the most precious yet most neglected of human rights. Reading them, one learns also much about the perfidious ways those in power limit people’s right to the city.
Approaches to understanding the meaning of accession to the European Union vary significantly among the post-Yugoslav countries. For some the process has been an important driving force for changes in their legal and institutional systems.
The international community, especially the EU and its member states, seems clumsy and even over-burdened in light of the recklessly proceeding patronage networks in the Balkans: The approach of local ownership which has been propagated for a long while is dangerously ignoring the real balance of power in those countries. How could citizens deal with very diffuse networks, if there are no intact correctives, no free, no independent justice?
Any international intervention has crucial limits: It can change the rules of the game, but it cannot empower local players. The articles collected in this issue of Perspectives Southeast Europe tell stories about the current challenges of international intervention in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia and Serbia.
The first issue of Perspectives Southeastern Europe is about young adults in the Balkans. It is about young people with a specific kind of transition to adulthood who want to overcome the tradition of patriarchy and discrimination and who are striving for a more democratic culture.