Another Ten Balkan Tales

fellowship_grab

Here are all ten of the stories that I edited in 2013 for the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence. Our reporters honoured the annual theme of “integrity” by revealing its absence. So, we have some stories about corruption. We have some stories about migration. And we even have some stories about migration-because-of-corruption.

All very Balkan, you might say. But in fact, many of the problems our reporters uncovered can be traced to the heart of Western Europe, or to the unintended consequences of the EU’s policies in the east.

Other themes include the unsettled legacy of war – still very pertinent – and the troubling politicisation of civil society.

  • Macedonians used to pay some of the highest mobile phone bills in Europe – and not just because they like to talk. Goran Rizaov unravels the murky saga of a telecoms deal that has been ignored in his country, despite leading to a massive corruption settlement in the US.
Advertisements

Secrets and Lies: No Closure for Victims of Albanian Communism

atlantic_albania_grabjpg

An investigation into Albania’s failure to address the excesses of its communist past. Former prisoners of the gulag system have spent decades in pursuit of justice. They have been promised disclosures and compensation by successive governments – but have yet to see much action. Report by Aleksandra Bogdani. My edit for BfJE/Balkan Insight and The Atlantic.

Ten Balkan Tales

fellowship_grab

Here are all ten of the stories I edited in 2012 for the Balkan Fellowship of Journalistic Excellence, an annual award for investigative and long-form reporting. The stories were published by Balkan Insight, as well as in the international and regional press.

  • Top prize-winner Sorana Stanescu reveals how British immigration laws – a door left half open – have led to the exploitation of Romanian and Bulgarian builders.
  • Second prize-winner Saska Cvetkovska investigates why so many Macedonian youngsters are locked out of a deeply politicised job market.
  • Third prize-winner Aleksandra Bogdani examines why the former prisoners of Albania’s gulags have yet to be compensated for their suffering.
  • Aleksandar Manasiev reveals how violent football hooligans keep ethnically divided Macedonia on edge.
  • Arbana Xharra examines how Muslim hardliners are sowing conservatism among Kosovo’s poor, sparking resentment in a traditionally secular society.
  • Ana Benacic’s investigation into the collapse of a Croatian farm shows how bad privatisation is a modern version of the Biblical plague of locusts, stripping the land of its wealth.
  • Dimiter Kenarov asks if poverty and murky politics in Bulgaria can stop the seemingly unstoppable rise of the environmental movement.
  • Eldin Hadzovic asks why the dysfunctional state in Bosnia seems to care least for its most vulnerable citizens – the thousands of children abandoned by their families.
  • Samir Kajosevic travels among ethnic Albanian minorities in Montenegro and beyond, discovering some hope amid economic desperation.
  • Miodrag Sovilj asks the activist-squatters of Croatia and Slovenia how they fought the state and won, while their counterparts in Serbia failed.

Guantanamo refugee rues asylum deal

An Algerian doctor joins the small list of former Guantanamo Bay detainees who have been transferred to Albania. “Abu Mohammed” is trapped in a legal limbo that prevents him from being reunited with the family he last saw in 2001. Report from Tirana for BBC News, May 2007

Albanian fix for Guantanamo dilemma

An investigation into the US policy of arranging asylum in Albania for former Guantanamo Bay detainees. The men were forbidden under American law from being repatriated to their countries on account of the risk that they would be mistreated there. Impoverished Albania stepped in to accommodate them. I nicknamed this practice, “extraordinary rehabilitation”. Report from Tirana for BBC News, January 2007

Guantanamo Uighurs’ strange odyssey

The extraordinary tale of a group of Uighurs from western China who were captured in Afghanistan, imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, and resettled in Albania. I tracked the men down while on holiday in the Balkans. Report from Tirana for BBC News, January 2007

Albania fans cry foul at Greek ban

A row erupts over a Greek decision to bar foreign fans from attending a football match against neighbouring Albania. BBC News, April 2005