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!
Latest stories from Quick Reads + Albania
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!
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. [...]
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. [...]
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.
At HuffPost Travel, American actress Eliza Dushku writes about her Albanian roots and her travel to Albania.
Home of the Albanian Blogger reports that one out of three Albanians pays bribes, making the country the most corrupt in Europe.
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.”
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).
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.
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%.
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.”
A Nevada Yankee in King Zog's Court writes that “Albanians are so poor at giving directions that it's easier just to take the lost soul directly to his destination than it is to give directions.”
Albanian Blogger recommends scholar Robert Elsie's work to those interested in the Albanian language and literature.
Albanian Blogger links to an article about the former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha, which appeared in the Guardian: “Also the picture of the statue of the dictator in the main square, which was pulled down by protesters about 19 years ago brings back memories for me. I was very young then, but I did witness the event at less than 100 meters from it.”
Stepping Stones describes an accidental stopover at a honey-processing place located on a beautiful lake in southern Albania.
A Fistful of Euros writes about “the first generation of post-Communist leaders”: “Well, here’s a question: almost 20 years later, how many of them are still running things? Not so many.”
More on the new EU visa rules for the Balkans – at A Fistful of Euros.
AriRusila of Blogactiv.eu‘s BalkanPerspective writes that the EU's intention to introduce visa-free travel for some Balkan entities but not others is dividing the region.
Living in Shkoder, Albania learns that kids aren't allowed to play in Albanian parks.
Albanian Blogger comments on the 2009 general elections in Albania.