After Erdoğan’s Narrow Victory

Update: Since the time of writing of this article, over three weeks ago, the Turkish lirahas lost over 25% of its value against the US dollar and inflation is rapidly catching up on this figure. A significant factor in this devaluation has been the diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the United States over the former’s practice of hostage diplomacy (the arrest of the American evangelical missionary Andrew Brunson) and the latter’s threat to levy a mu lti-billion-dollar fine on the Turkish-state-owned Halkbank over violations of US-imposed sanctions on Iran. But Turkey’s underlying economic problems run muc ..

Tensions in the Balkans: is Serbia preparing to recognise Kosovo?

The Serbian President’s rhetoric since July 2017 has been suggestive of a compromise deal – but, argues Vladimir Unkovski-Korica, the future is still uncertain.   Last week, Kosovo’s authorities failed to publish their promised draft statute for the Community of Serb Municipalities (ZSO) i.e. for the several tens of thousands of Serbs concentrated in north Kosovo on the border with Serbia. This was meant to be a key milestone in the so-called ‘normalisation’ of relations between Serbia and Kosovo, but there is now renewed scepticism about the future. In reality, though, the latest setback is just one o ..

Bulgarian Academy of Sciences Researchers on the Campaign Against a Project on Gender Equality

Note from the LeftEast editors: days after The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (a.k.a. The Istanbul Convention) was declared “unconstitutional” by the Bulgarian Constitutional Court, the witch-hunt against the so-called “gender ideology” took its first symbolic victim. A project on gender equality nominated in the first phase of UNESCO’s Participation Programme 2018-2019 was blocked by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and later by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science (despite the fact that the Ministry had ..

It was never about the Istanbul Convention

The debate over the ratification of the so called “Istanbul Convention” in Bulgaria, as in some other countries in the region, became a huge public scandal and probably the most important political matter of 2018. Originally intended to provide states with a framework for prevention and reduction of domestic violence against women, the document has become a byword for a conspiracy against the Bulgarian people and their supposed “traditional values” violated by foreign liberal powers through the use of “gender ideology”. On the 27th of July the Constitutional Court, referred to the matter by 75 deputie ..

When is OK to shut down a newspaper? “Economic” vs. “Political” Pressure on the Public Sphere

Note from the LeftEast editors: The Bulgarian media market is extremely concentrated and under immense pressure to contract still further. Several analytical outlets have recently shut down due to financial constraints. The lack of media pluralism and the severe ownership concentration have been reflected in the recent decision of Reporters Without Borders to downgrade the country’s media freedom ranking from 35th to 111th place. In this short piece, Jana Tsoneva zooms in on the latest chapter of media closures and attacks on press freedom. The article is published in collaboration with the web portal Bilt ..

„When is it time to act if not now?!” Participatory action research about housing movements in Hungary

Ilona Csécsei – Andrea Csengei – Mariann Dósa – Imre Kleiner – Magdolna Palotai – Ibolya Tünde Szakmáry – Zoltán Sziráki – Károly Szombathy – István Tompa – Éva Tessza Udvarhelyi – Nándor Wittmann (as known as “When is it time to act if not now?!” research group) “Something should be done, but I don’t know where to begin… Maybe the problem is that there are too few people who will join forces for the good cause.” 1. The School of Public Life is a community-based education and research center supporting the active participation of socially disadvantaged people liv ..

Orbán in Jerusalem: The illiberal axis tightens

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s visit to Israel last week came at a moment in which the latter’s slide into legally-sanctioned racism has taken on particularly stark colors. In the final meeting of its summer session, the Israeli Knesset enacted the “Nation-State Law,” formally enshrining the ethnic exclusivity of the Jewish state and the degraded status of its Palestinian citizens. Though the bill passed narrowly, it has met with little public push-back. In an ironic sign of the times, another new law ruling out state-funded surrogacy for gay couples has sparked middle-class revolt and declarati ..

Decolonization and Semiperipheral Postcoloniality: Hungarian Experts in Nkrumah’s Ghana

Notes from the LeftEast editors: this piece was first published in the Hungarian journal Mezosfera, and was reprinted with kind permission of the author and the journal. It should be cited as: Zoltán Ginelli, “Hungarian Experts in Nkrumah’s Ghana. Decolonization and Semiperipheral Postcoloniality in Socialist Hungary,” Mezosfera Issue No 5, Refractions of Socialist Solidarity, ed. Eszter Szakács (Budapest: tranzit. hu, 2018), http://mezosfera.org/hungarian-experts-in-nkrumahs-ghana/. How was Hungary connected to post-WWII decolonization? What does this episode of Eastern European history tell us abou ..