Running on Belgrade Time

Belgrade is still baking in temperatures of 28 degrees and more, while I am dashing around trying to hold my schedule together. Everyone else is working on Belgrade time. The city streets and riverside walks are packed with people enjoying the days of late sunshine, getting the most out of their summer wardrobe. Obviously, I have also been taking time out between meetings to stroll in the parks and tree-lined streets, or sit on terraces people-watching and soaking up the Belgrade atmosphere with the locals. Juggling your time is a skill that has been mastered here.

My trip continued with a visit to a Belgrade film set, meetings with people connected with Serbia at the London 2012 Olympics, and my Serbian TV premiere. Also, I have been catching up with old friends, meeting interesting new people, and generally enjoying time here. 

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Experiencing The Thrilling Game, Serbian-Style

Finally, I am back in Belgrade. It has not been three months since my last visit but it is great to be back for two weeks of meetings, media, visits to a film set and, of course, to catch up with friends. This weekend’s BlogOpen conference in Novi Sad should allow me to meet up with the creators of the blogs I follow regularly and to share some thoughts and experiences.

My visit started as I mean it to go on – if I can keep up with the pace, that is. Within hours of arriving, my friend Ivan Agbaba was whisking me around Belgrade bars, before we headed out of town to Pink International’s film studios for a massive party with the musically diverse combination of Željko Joksimović and DJ Bob Sinclar performing. Outside of the region, Željko is best known for presenting Eurovision, although here he is obviously well established as a singer and all-round celebrity.

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Serbia Has Failed its People & Dented its Future in Europe, a Democracy Campaigner Claims. The EU is Watching Closely, says EU Delegation

Banning Belgrade’s Pride Parade means Serbia has failed to maintain the basic human rights of freedom of expression and the right of assembly, an advocate for democracy has said. By outlawing public demonstrations, further progress towards EU membership would be ‘absurd’, said Ivana Howard, of theNational Endowment For Democracy. All this at a time when the EU say it is watching Serbia closely.

Serbia’s European future could be on the skids after its Interior Minister slapped a ban on the Pride Parade and all public demonstrations proposed for this weekend. The move was due to threatened violence and extreme action from nationalist hooligans and far right-wingers being deemed a threat to national security. In what amounted to an admission that it could not protect its people on the streets, Serbia has failed, said the Senior Programme Officer.

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Civil Society Needs to Unite to Protect Democracy and Human Rights in Serbia, a Council of Europe Chief Says

Too few people feel able to stand up for the protection of basic human rights in Serbia, said Belgrade’s chief for the Council of Europe

“There are not many faces that fight homophobia in SerbiaI miss faces from the government, from Parliament and public administration, Antje Rothemund said. “This is part of a living democracy and, even if people have to overcome some of their own hesitations, it shouldn’t be a problem to stand up for democracy. Too few opinion leaders and politicians have taken a very firm stand against homophobic expressions, discrimination and violence. This is also true in other spheres. There are very few well-known actors, musicians or sports people who have come out and openly stand up against homophobia because they fear disadvantages.

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