Balkanalysis.com conducts in-depth interviews with prominent figures in or associated with the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean. This direct interaction provides valuable primary source material for researchers and media, and engrossing content for all readers. For other, shorter interaction with similar figures see the Balkanalysis Briefings section here.
Over 30 interviews conducted since 2005 are listed below in reverse chronological order.
In Istanbul, a New Brewpub Caters to International Tastes (March 13, 2013)
This new feature on Istanbul’s newest brewpub gets the testimony of the pub’s founders, British expat couple Philip and Jill Hall. Along with practical information on getting to this popular new landmark for expat and local beer lovers, the article documents the creation of the Bosphorus Brewing Company – ‘BBC’ for short – and its founders’ vision. The story becomes even more interesting when also are considered the current trends in the country, with respect to competition on the beer market and the pious government’s anti-alcohol tendencies. Whether you’re an interested visitor to the city or a passive observer of Turkish current events, this story provides fascinating insight into the interaction of global practices and local issues today.
Boosting Contemporary Art in Romania: Interview with Mihai Suta and Dan Vuletici (November 26, 2012)
In this visit to Timisoara, Romania, we discover an unexpected project for creating ‘unconventional art galleries’ inone of the country’s historic cultural capitals. In this massive interview with project leaders Mihai Suta, an economist, and Dan Vuletici, a Web expert and artist, readers gain an understanding of what it is like to be an artist in Romania today, what kind of challenges exist in the art world, and the kind of transformative solutions that innovative economics and online social networking are providing for the proliferation of the arts. While the interview concerns local developments, the applications are global.
The Mystery of Macedonia’s Islamic Manuscripts: Interview with Mesut Idriz (October 28, 2012)
This fascinating interview with Dr. Mesut Idriz, an academic researcher from Macedonia, provides rare insight into the little-known world of Ottoman-era manuscripts surviving in the country today. The interview covers not only the range of documents in the historical inventory, but also the factors that apply in creating value for manuscripts among private collectors and at international auctions. The interview concludes with Dr Idriz’s recommendation that a joint institute be set up by the governments of Turkey and Macedonia to index and catoolgue the thousands of rare documents from Macedonia’s Ottoman past.
Kosovo after Supervised Independence: Interview with Petrit Selimi (October 5, 2012)
This exclusive interview with Kosovo’s young deputy foreign minister discusses a range of issues relating to Kosovo’s progress following the end of supervised independence. In the interview, Deputy Minister Selimi discusses Kosovo’s diplomatic challenges in the months ahead, and the kind of strategies that his government is planning to embark upon to increase its international stature. Relations with neighboring countries and infrastructure developments are also discussed.
Turkey’s top diplomat in Brussels speaks with Balkanalysis.com in this exclusive new interview. In it, he makes the case for the Turkish reform process and Turkey’s goals of joining the EU, including policies of improving ties with Germany and France and utilizing its existing role in the Balkans.
This interview with Eduard Kukan, the Chairman of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo, provides plenty of inside insight into how Brussels views the Western Balkan integration process, what are the key issues, and what trends can be expected for each country.
This engrossing interview with leading Turkish analyst Dogas Ulas Eralp of the Washington-based SETA Foundation examines Turkey’s dynamic position as a leading country active in several regions simultaneously, with a lucid view of how the country’s leaders can maintain and expand these relations during a turbulent time. The interview provides candid assessments of the role of foreign investment and economic development in Turkish foreign policy in practice, as well as futures analysis of Turkey’s relations with the Cypriot Republic in 2012, the situation in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan after American troops depart, the Syrian civil unrest, and Turkey’s expanding role in Africa.
European Identity, Politics and the Western Balkans: Interview with Gyorgy Schopflin (Part 1, November 28, 2011)
The first part of this lengthy discussion with Hungarian MEP Gyorgy Schopflin covers a range of topics, including European identity and the question of how much centralization is too much for average Europeans. The role of reform and orientation of Western Balkan countries like Serbia, and the realistic outlook of such countries for EU accession, is broached as well, with some further thoughts on the EU’s role as a conflict mediation mechanism and the coming contest between Turkey and Russia for influence.
This lengthy new interview with Slovakia’s top diplomat in Skopje covers a range of issues, but is largely concerned with comparative aspects of the Slovakian experience of EU reforms, economic development, foreign investment, and national priorities, and what Macedonia as an EU candidate country can learn from this experience. In the course of the wide-ranging and sometimes humorous interview, Dr Kirnag provides his frank appraisals on areas that could be improved, such as branding and promotion, and opportunities that are being taken now or that could be taken in areas like tourism, cultural cooperation, diplomatic and media training, and business development.
What are the main challenges facing the European Union’s new border policing assistance mission, Frontex, on Greece’s eastern frontier with Turkey? In what capacities does the EU mission engage with the Greek authorities, and how has their relationship developed over the years as the EU grapples with an influx of illegal immigrants – some criminally connected – across Greek land and sea borders? All of these questions and more are answered in this exclusive new interview, one that represents the most comprehensive and informed interview to yet appear on the Frontex mission in Greece.
Deemed the ‘architect of civil society in Serbia,’ Sonja Licht has been one of the most influential voices and determined supporters of the civil society movement in Serbia since the collapse of Yugoslavia. In this exclusive new interview, Ms Licht provides her insight on the progression of civil society in Serbia and the Western Balkans, as well as present and future initiatives in the NGO sphere.
In this perceptive new interview, former State Secretary of the Ministry of Kosovo and Metohija Dušan Prorokovic gives an expert overview of the challenges and possibilities for Belgrade’s – and Pristina’s – diplomatic positions in Kosovo, as well as some thoughts on the tense situation in the north and the curious case of how a relative unknown was chosen as Kosovo’s president.
In this new interview conducted with Andrej Plenković, state secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration in Croatia, readers are given a thorough overview of the issues affecting Croatia’s EU relationship as it prepares for membership into that bloc in 2013.
This entertaining interview with Romanian Ambassador Constantinescu gives a retrospective view of the economic development of Romania, and in particular its foreign trade development and negotiating experience during the formative post-Communist years, as recounted by one of the leading figures in that process. It also offers some insights from the experienced ambassador on how Western Balkan countries can learn and profit from Romania’s experience in negotiating for EU membership.
In this new interview with the chairman of the committee for European integration in the Kosovo parliament, readers are given insights into how the national interests of Kosovo towards EU integration are being perceived and acted on by both government and opposition voices. The interview also touches on Kosovo’s progress towards joining other Western Balkans countries in achieving visa-free travel within the Schengen Zone, justice and home affairs, human rights issues and more.
This comprehensive interview, conducted a week prior to Turkey’s intensely-anticipated general elections, features the insights of one of the country’s top diplomats, who answers a series of tough questions regarding Turkey’s readiness to join the EU- ranging from judicial reforms, press freedom and freedom of speech to visa issues. Along the way, a strong case is made for Turkish EU membership and the political and economic boost this could provide for Turkey’s Western neighbors- should they have the requisite trust to take in this long-standing candidate country on its merits.
In this fun new interview, readers are given an overview of what Budva – Montenegro’s most famous coastal getaway – has to offer this year, and how it and the country in general did to avoid the painful effects of tourism decline due to the global economic downturn. Along the way interesting historical and cultural facts come up, including stories of shipwrecks, secluded posh villas and world-class concerts. The interview includes alluring photos of Budva, the Bay of Kotor and the mountainous expanse surrounding Lovcen Mausoleum,
The secret offerings of one of Macedonia’s wildest, though still unknown places are divulged in this interview with Mihail Malahov. The general manager of the Jasen Nature Reserve, a heavily foreseted area in the country’s central mountain massif, Mr Malahov shares some important new details on progress made by this state-run entity in terms of providing opportunities for hikers, hunters, and other outdoors tourists- in the process sharing some little-known facts about rare flora and flauna and news about European projects to plumb the park’s subterranean depths.
In this interview, Greek Navy Commander Ioannis Chapsos discusses several key security issues in the region and wider world today, from human trafficking in the Balkans to maritime piracy in Somalia. The engrossing conversation captured here, with an experienced maritime commander well aware of the exigencies of maritime warfare, sheds light on the operational realities and logistical issues associated with maritime affairs, commerce, security and the ever-present risk of terrorism. Commander Chapsos argues that only providing human security and sustainable livelihoods for those pressed into violent livelihoods out of financial need will end the scourge of piracy today.
This conversational interview with three up-and-coming female expats in Athens – from the US, Czech Republic and Serbia – reveals some interesting insights about the perceptions foreigners have of Greeks – and vice versa – as well as the cultural offerings Greece’s capital has to offer.
This detailed and wide-ranging interview with Greek-American foreign policy expert John Sitilides discusses topics from the value of professional communications strategies in international relations to security factors in Greece today, as well as some thought on how Greece could better approach some of its pressing policy dilemmas.
This exclusive interview with Dr Jordan Baev, a world expert in Bulgarian and Balkan intelligence, defense and security issues, concerns one of the most specialized and obscure, yet at the same time most intriguing of topics- the final publication and analysis of Bulgaria’s former Communist intelligence dossiers. In the interview, readers get a sense of what Bulgaria’s spies were concentrating on in decades past; terrorists and extremists from Carlos the Jackal to the Turkish Grey Wolves make an appearance, among others.
An engrossing discussion with two Turkish academic experts on Turkey’s deepening ties with Africa, this detailed interview provides a greater understanding of the policy and diplomatic concerns, as well as the economic incentives and ambitions guiding Turkey’s decisive moves into the African continent. From the interview, a number of key issues arise such as Turkey’s military cooperation with African nations, the role of disseminated Turkish language and schooling in ‘soft power’ projection, and the relationship that Ankara will have with wider global powers in future due to its active diplomacy today.
This interview conducted in Croatia with the country’s senior Interior Ministry director, Oliver Grbic, centers on law enforcement-related issues such as international police cooperation with countries in the region, and ongoing investigations into organized crime. In the proceedings, the police director highlights some of the achievements Croatia has made in areas such as border security and in working together with the services of former less-than-friendly neighbors such as Serbia. He also provides an estimate of security-sector needs today, emphasizing the fight against money laundering and more complex forms of organized crime.
Female Political Participation in Albania: Interview with Filloreta Kodra (November 30, 2010)
A minister in the Albanian government, Filloreta Kodra is uniquely qualified to speak about the issues affecting gender and political participation in this developing Balkan country. In this interview, Ms Kodra discusses differences visible between the conditions affecting women in rural and urban areas, access to education and political information, the role of traditional life and society, and other factors affecting the ability of women to aspire to a career in politics in Albania today.
This insightful interview with a leading Croatian defense analyst covers several pertinent issues, first discussing the disparate series of reforms which the Croatian military has undergone in the post-war era, including assessments of stumbling blocks and challenges in the past few years. Mr Tabak also looks into the intriguing yet undiscussed issue of the popular perception of national defense and the defense sector since Croatia joined NATO in 2008. Finally, Mr Tabak provides his assessment of the major national security challenges facing the country today.
Former national security adviser to two Macedonian presidents, and previously a long-time interior ministry official, Professor Stevo Pendarovski takes time to share from his wealth of experience over two decades of service to the modern Macedonian state. His analysis of current political trends in light of national security issues past and present make this an engaging and thought-provoking read for Macedonia country-watchers.
Hellenic Defence College Professor Drougos provides in this exclusive interview a comprehensive overview of the security issues facing Greece today, from illegal immigrations to anarchist groups and asymmetric warfare and potential terrorism. He also diagnoses the conditions affecting the Greek security and defense establishment and what measures should be taken in the future. This interview, conducted in Athens, was considered a must-read by the Hellenic Republic’s top military brass when it came out, and readers can see why here.
The most widely-read Balkanalysis.com interview of the year, this exclusive discussion with former UNMIK Mitrovica head Gerard Gallucci examines specific incidents of a controversial and significant nature in light of the “facts”- and sets them in the proper context of Kosovo’s shaping trends and events of recent years. Direct, straightforward and honest, the interview is required reading for practitioners, academics, and anyone interested in how peacekeeping – or the lack thereof – occurs in Kosovo today.
This exclusive interview with the highest-ranking officer in the Bulgarian military, conducted on-site in Sofia, provides an authoritative assessment of Bulgarian military strategy and developments in the past few years. It also includes short discussions of related events such as planned training exercises with Balkan neighbors and unresolved issues such as the issues leading up to the cessation of a Bulgarian NATO official’s senior position in Macedonia. The interview makes a key primary source for researchers in Balkan, and especially Bulgarian, defense-related issues in recent years.
This exclusive and lengthy interview with Macedonia’s senior police official, conducted in Skopje, took place in the run-up to municipal and presidential elections which had aroused a certain amount of trepidation in international and diplomatic circles at the time. However, as was cited in the interview, these passed without trouble. The minister discusses in the proceedings other issues, such as the unprecedented success of several Macedonian special police operations against armed criminal groups with extremist ties. The interview also discusses Macedonian technical improvements and international cooperation.
Victor Friedman on Macedonia: the Balkanalysis.com Interview (December 14, 2008)
One of the most talked-about interviews published so far on Balkanalysis.com, this frank discussion with famed University of Chicago linguistics professor Victor Friedman covers all things Macedonia- from language, identity and culture to the controversial reaction of outside parties such as Greece and Bulgaria to Macedonia’s very existence.
American Friends of Bulgaria: Interview with Roy and Anne Freed (April 20, 2008)
This remarkable interview traces the Balkan adventure of 91-year-old couple Roy and Anne Freed, who visited Bulgaria for the first time in 198 when it was still under Communism, and came back as Fulbright Scholars two years later. In this revealing and sometimes touching interview, the Freeds recount some of their seminal experiences in the country and note the developments they have seen over the past three decades of their visits to Bulgaria.
Adventures with the CIA in Turkey: Interview with Philip Giraldi (July 30, 2006)
The interview that made the headlines of several major Turkish newspapers in one day, this all-time favorite recounts the experience in Turkey of Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer. With the position of deputy chief of base during the late 1980s, he saw and heard many extraordinary things while in the service of the US government. In this interview, Mr Giraldi discusses everything from daily routines and Turkish counterintelligence practices to the need to counter Iranian assassins. A modern classic for intel buffs.
Tales of an Old Partisan: An Interview with Metodija Markovski (October 11, 2005)
When elderly World War II veteran Metodija Markovski died, this interview was printed out and placed among other memorabilia, so happy had it made him. This text – living history – is the sum of the Macedonian veteran’s recollections of life in the turbulent period in which Nazi Germany was in control of the Balkans and its local Albanian allies, the Ballists, were terrorizing his native region of Struga. In it the veteran recalls various skirmishes, war crimes, interactions with American and British forces, and action on the Sremski Front in the north of Serbia, where Russian military power proved vital. He also gives his opinions about contemporary Macedonian life.