Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia are just as affected by the refugee situation as Austria and Germany. The news and pictures a Western audience gets about the situation on the Balkans seems a bit unbalanced, to say the least.
It’s either the image of total chaos or that of governments trying to pass on the problem to someone else as quickly as possible while bickering with each other over supposedly long held grudges and nationalist resentments.
Some Western media even warn that the situation could spark a new war, again evoking the image of the Balkans as a powder keg. Nothing helps a newspaper sell copies as much as confirming stereotypes held by its readers.
Curiously nobody seems to interpret the discussions between Austrian and German politicians concerning the refugee situation in that way. Official cooperation nonwithstanding, they aren’t just exchanging niceties and the history between these two countries hasn’t always been an entirely happy one, either.
Right wing parties and movements seem to profit from the situation on the Balkans, too, just like the election in Croatia has shown – just like it’s the case anywhere else in Europa. And there probably is indeed more hateful rhethorics around than at other times.
Yet, there are also many people around that try to make a difference. An example is a Shadow Position for the EU Summit on Migration in La Valetta, organized by the Centar za mirovne studije (CMS), the Center for Peace Studies, in Zagreb.
An, of course, there is people who put up messages like the one in the title photo I took in the center of Sarajevo. The Naški part means „Because we’re people“, by the way.
So the situation is like in the rest of Europe: While many right wingers try to exploit the situation and ride to electoral victories on fear mongering and racist slogans a lot of people try do to the right thing and remain decent human beings. Their efforts should be covered a lot more by foreign media to give a more balanced and accurate picture rather than transport stereotypes.