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from Photographers' Blog:

Lives washed away

Zepce, Bosnia

By Dado Ruvic

For many days since the floods in the Balkans began, I have woken up with tears in my eyes. I have been looking at my friends in disbelief, watching as their lives slowly crumble.

Bosnia has been devastated by the worst floods to hit the region in living memory. More than a million people have been cut off from clean water, 100,000 buildings have been left uninhabitable and over half a million people have left their homes.

From the beginning of this crisis, I have felt a struggle within myself between the man who is watching his friends and family suffer, and the journalist, who is trying to document it all for the rest of the world.

Part of my family has been cut off by the floods. Some have become homeless, some have been left with almost nothing; just a plastic bag carrying a few sets of clothes, a piece of bread and a bottle of water.

from Full Focus:

Flood of a century

The heaviest rains and floods in 120 years hit Bosnia and Serbia.

from Global News Journal:

Is Kosovo ready for visa-free travel to the European Union?

Weeks before a parliamentary election in Kosovo that could decide the course of democratic reforms there, the European Union is struggling to decide whether to offer Pristina encouragement or reproach.

The country, a former breakaway province of Serbia, is the poorest and smallest in the Balkans and riddled with problems. Unemployment rates are near 50 percent, state institutions are weak and per capita income is just $2,500 -- one of the lowest in Europe. Five EU members do not even recognise it as a state. Yet it may also hold the key to stability in a region marked by decades of ethnic conflict.

from Global News Journal:

Macedonia and Greece could look to EU for help

"What's in a name?" asked love-struck Juliet by way of justifying her love for Romeo, whose Montague family was so loathed by the Capulets.

For Macedonia, rather a lot.

The name has been fought over by Greece and "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" for nearly two decades. Now European Union diplomats are telling them to ask for mediation help from the bloc. It may be the only chance, they say, for the two countries to solve a dispute that is preventing Macedonia from joining NATO and starting accession negotiations with the EU.

from Global News Journal:

Croatia must read European Union signals carefully

The European Commission told Croatia this week that its negotiations to join the European Union have reached their "final" stage. Sounds promising, considering how reluctant many EU governments are to admit any new members at a time when the bloc is coping with financial difficulties.

But there was another, more subtle message in the text of the Commission's annual progress report on EU hopefuls. And it read quite  differently.

from Tales from the Trail:

Hillary Clinton stops to see Bill’s statue in Kosovo

Hillary Clinton stopped on Bill Clinton Boulevard to view one of Kosovo's main attractions: the Bill Clinton Statue.

Clinton, on her first visit to Kosovo as secretary of state, on Wednesday received a rapturous welcome from the crowd waving U.S. flags and cheering on the Clinton Brand, which many Kosovars see as key to their country's independence.

from Global News Journal:

“It’s good to talk” EU tells Serbia, Kosovo

kosovoThe message to Serbia from Brussels is clear: swallow your pride and start talking to Kosovo. Without strong evidence that Belgrade is mending ties with its former province, the message goes on, Serbia's pathway to European Union entry will be rocky, if not blocked entirely.

Quietly, EU diplomats warn that Serbia must tread carefully on the issue. Since the International Court of Justice ruled last week that Kosovo's 2008 secession was legal, the province is gone from Serbia for good, they caution.

from Global News Journal:

Bizarre details emerge in Bolivian plot

Terrorists tried to blow up Bolivia's President Evo Morales on a naval boat on Lake Titicaca. Mercenaries, including a veteran of the Balkan wars, were plotting against Morales and his political opponents at the same time. A Roman Catholic cardinal was among their targets. Reuters correspondent Eduardo Garcia reports that these are just some of the bizarre allegations made by the Bolivian government after police killed three men in a shootout at a hotel. The government said the police foiled a plot to assassinate the leftist president.

The strange tale began on Thursday when Bolivian police killed three alleged terrorists or mercenaries and arrested two others in the eastern city of Santa Cruz. Morales said he ordered the men detained because they were plotting to kill him.  When police stormed the hotel, a gunfight broke out and three suspected were killed. Where the dead men came from is still a mystery. Government officials said they traveled from either Ireland or Croatia to kill Morales and trigger a spiral of violence in the poor South American country. Morales said two of the men killed were Hungarian. But local media cite police sources saying one of them was from Ireland and one from Romania.

The third man killed was identified as Bolivian Eduardo Rozsa Flores, who the government says fought in separatist movements in the former Yugoslavia. In his blog, Rozsa describes himself as Muslim and in one entry he calls Morales' hero, Argentine revolutionary icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara a racist and mass murderer. He also had this site.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Can the Balkans do a World Cup quadruple?

Soccer leagues in the Balkans are suffering from an uncontrolled outflow of talent to wealthier and more competitive environments in Europe and it's a trend that's benefiting some of the region's national teams.

At least three countries that emerged from the former Yugoslavia stand a good chance of reaching next year's World Cup in South Africa.

from Global News Journal:

What Russia wants: lessons from the 19th century

Russian tanks in N. Ossetia after crossing from S. Ossetia/Sergei KarpukhinRussia's bear-paw swipe at Georgia has got many people drawing comparisons with the Cold War, but personally I like to look for parallels in the 19th century.

At the time the faultlines between Russian and British imperial interests ran from the Balkans through the Crimea and the Caucasus to Central Asia and Afghanistan. That is remarkably similar to some of the faultlines creating upheavals today.  

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