Serbians love the water. No matter where they live or how far they travel, Serbians like little more than enjoying life by the waterside. Many head to the coast in Montenegro, Croatia or Greece while, for those in Belgrade, summer in the city is all about having fun by the river.
Day and night, the country’s waterways host bathers, party-goers and people who just want to enjoy life along the river. Novi Sad and Belgrade both host rowing and other watersports, while Belgrade even hosts Serbia’s first blue flag beach at Ada Ciganlija.
Further out of town, people head to rivers and lakes to cool off in the hot Serbian summer. In the vast northern region of Vojvodina, packing up the barbecue and heading to wooded areas alongside the network of lakes and rivers that stretch out across its flat landscape is a popular evening or weekend pastime, as I experienced on a recent visit to the area.
Idolised Balkan singer Toše Proeski has taken his place alongside the great and the good from Macedonia’s history.
Many in the region have long placed Toše on a pedestal but now he has been represented in a line up of Macedonia’s most prominent artists and cultural icons as part of a flashy makeover that is underway in Skopje.
Last year, two colossal statues of Alexander the Great and his father Philip II of Macedon were set in floodlit fountains in the city centre.
Now the city’s bosses have erected 29 statues along a new bridge in the city, and a 30-metre tall statue of Mother Teresa will soon join the gaudy new Skopje skyline. The city is keen to be recognised as the birthplace of the Nobel Peace Prize winning nun who famously said: “By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”
Every morning, nearly 200,000 people in Serbia wake up to one political commentator. In a landscape that is cluttered with colourful characters, this man can command more attention than most political editors and his satirical slant on Serbia’s political shenanigans is more likely to be shared over email and coffee.
Yet this character choses not to wield his power to benefit any particular political party (despite their requests for his support). He prefers to remain as partial as any one in his position can be as he keeps his eyes peeled for what is most relevant – and funny – every day.
While his work is known to so many, few would recognise him if they passed him on the street. And he quite likes it that way. He is the much-admired political cartoonist for Blic newspaper.His name is Marko Somborac.
Serbia’s interest in joining the EU has not been dented by troubles in Europe, a survey has shown. Despite increasing unemployment and higher prices across the continent, a large group of Serbian voters still believe that EU membership will deliver new jobs and provide access to a pool of cash. The poll of more than one thousand people also indicated that Kosovo is no longer seen as such a hurdle for the country in Europe, although Serbian voters are eager to see resolution to issues between Belgrade and Pristina.
New jobs (32%) and access to European funds (27%) ranked highest among the benefits of EU membership for those who said that they expected life in Serbia to improve as a EU candidate country. Significantly, the number of people who fear an increase in administration, taxes and even higher prices has fallen to just 17%, according to the survey for the European Integration Office of the Government of the Republic of Serbia.