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5 Muslim Countries Where Gays Are Not Prosecuted by the Law

The LGBT Muslims blog identified 5 Muslim nations where the legal system does not outlaw homosexuality. The 5 countries are : Mali, Jordan, Indonesia, Turkey and Albania. While the law in these countries does not criminalize gay lifestyles, the LGBT Muslims blog points out that LGBT communities still suffer from discrimination and non-negligible pressure to remain discreet regarding their lifestyles. Still, the main take away lesson is that gay rights may be more advanced than most would believe in the aforementioned countries. 

Hello Spring, Goodbye Evil Eye

File:Martenitsa E5.jpg

Martenitsas on a blossoming tree.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

Μάρτης [el], мартеница [bg], мартинка [mk], mărțișor [ru]…however you call it, an ancient tradition [el] with multiple variations that takes place in the Balkans. So, weave your red-and-white threads for protection against the “evil eye” or to welcome Spring!

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Tax Holiday for Albanian Youth?

THREE YEAR TAX LIFT FOR EMPLOYED YOUTH

In a significant boost to youth employment, the government will decide during the coming weeks about the lifting of taxes (social security, health and personal income tax) and expenses of new trainings of those employed in the private sector. We keep our promises!

The Albanian PM Sali Berisha made this statement [sq] on his public Facebook page on February 10, 2013 [sq].
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Albania: Balkans Beyond Borders Short Film Festival

A poster for the Balkans Beyond Borders Short Film Festival 2012.

The Balkans Beyond Borders Short Film Festival 2012 opens in Tirana today. This is the third time that the festival is being held; this year's theme is “TALK TO ME – multilingualism and communication”; the program of the three-day event is here.

Greece: Anti-Nationalists Demand Diversity

Anti-nationalist sticker from Athens reads [el]: “We want Albanian classmates, Afghani coworkers, Nigerian neighbours and kicks to fascists.” Source: Facebook page of Europeans against the political system.

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Albania: Eliza Dushku on “Why You Must Visit Albania”

At HuffPost Travel, American actress Eliza Dushku writes about her Albanian roots and her travel to Albania.

Albania: One in three pays bribes

Home of the Albanian Blogger reports that one out of three Albanians pays bribes, making the country the most corrupt in Europe.

Albania: Anti-Government Protest in Tirana

Home of the Albanian Blogger and A Nevada Yankee in King Zog's Court share their thoughts on the Jan. 21 anti-government protests and violence in Tirana.

Slovenia: Referendum on the Arbitration Agreement

Sleeping With Pengovsky writes – here and here – about this past Sunday's referendum on the Arbitration Agreement between Slovenia and Croatia; posts Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5 of The Definitive Guide to the Arbitrage Agreement Between Slovenia and Croatia (links to the earlier installments are here); and notes that “the Arbitration Agreement can (not necessarily will) become a model for solving similar disputes in the region.” More background on the Sunday's referendum – at ESI's Rumeli Observer.

The Balkans, Italy: Berlusconi's “Albanian Girls” Comment; Doctored Photo

Balkan Travellers re-posts a Balkan Insight piece about the Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi's comment that “his country would accept only pretty Albanian girls as immigrants.” Belgraded writes about the photoshopped photos of Berlusconi and Slobodan Milosevic: “Fours days after the [doctored] photo was published, Milosevic lost the elections by a close margin. Maybe it will be the same for Berlusconi, who is probably the politician with the biggest resemblance to Milosevic-style politics in European Union today.”

Albanian Activists Condemn ‘Terrorist’ Murder Verdict in Macedonia

Balkan Insight reports that an ethnic Albanian NGO in Macedonia has condemned a recent court verdict convicting six Albanian men for the execution-style murder of five ethnic Macedonians on Christian Orthodox Easter in 2012.

The NGO claims that the entire investigation and verdict were politically-motivated and set against the six accused men from the beginning, leaving little to no room for other suspects or a more in-depth investigation. The six men stood trial for terrorism and were sentenced to the longest possible prison term for terrorism in Macedonia – life in prison.

Balkan Insight previously reported on the murders and the jailing of the six accused men.

E-Journal on Balkan History and Archaeology

Haemus-journal-1-2012-cover

Haemus journal Vol.1 (2012)
http://haemus.mk

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When Uncle Matt Went to Albania

Matthew Pointon of Uncle Travelling Matt shares this detailed, six-part account and photos of his travel in Albania in 1996 and 1999:

[…] The Land of the Eagle is little known even in Europe and that’s a shame since it has some incredible scenery, friendly people and fascinating history. […]

Kosovo: “Cinematic Darkness Knows No Nation”

At Kosovo 2.0 blog, Belgrade-based journalist Dušan Komarčević writes – here and here – about his July 2012 trip to Prizren, Kosovo, to attend the DOKUFEST International Documentary and Short Film Festival:

[…] The cinemas were filled with movie lovers from Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia, … Serbs and Albanians together!, will exclaim in unison ethnocentric builders committed to multiply the concept of the Berlin Wall in as many locations as possible. Unlike diplomats from Belgrade and Prishtina, who are seated around the same table by some Brussels bureaucrat […], moviephiles don’t need any intermediaries. Of course, with the exception of celluloid film. […]

Macedonia, Greece, Turkey: Bridging the Divides Through Multilingual Reporting

Two recent initiatives by civic-minded journalists added value to the e-content in local languages from Macedonia and nearby countries: Diversity Media is offering news analysis through text and audio podcasts in Macedonian and Albanian, and Balkon3.com is enabling “peeking over the neighbors’ fence” in Macedonian, Turkish, Greek, and English. The former also started a competition for news bloggers [mk, sq], ending Jan. 31.

Albania: Universities – Quantity vs Quality

Home of the Albanian Blogger writes about a BalkanInsight.com article, whose author has “counted some 10 public and over 30 private universities [in Albania], which beats the rest of the Balkan countries.” The quality of education at some of these institutions is something to be worried about, too.

Albania: “The Civil Alternative” Website

The Albanian Blogger writes about a new website, The Civil Alternative (ALB), which aims at “engaging people in dialogue and raising awareness as well as producing action about major issues affecting the Albanian people and the country as a whole.”

Serbia, Albania, Kosovo: More Info on “Yellow House”

Sasa Milosevic has collected some of the available information about the “Yellow House” and human organ trade in Kosovo on his blog, The Bloody Yellow House (ENG).

CEE: Facebook Use Stats

Worldwide Facebook statistics – at Facebakers.com: in Central & Eastern Europe, the Czech Republic has most users – 2,634,300 people, the country's overall ranking is #29, penetration is 25.8%. It is followed by Poland (#31), which has 2,604,440 users, with 6.77% penetration. Serbia (#41) is CEE's #3: 1,997,540 users, penetration is 27.07%. Russia is #56, with 1,112,680 users and penetration of 0.79%.

The Balkans: A Travel Roundup

“Street and alternative photography of Belgrade” – at Belgrade Raw; “Other people's journeys: Balkan travelogues 2009” – at Balkanology Blog; a map of Belgrade's hostels – at Belgraded; a review of the “best flight options to Sarajevo” – at Bosnia Blog.

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