"I want the Balkans to become a place you can return to without fear it might not work out"
On the 18th July, we hosted ‘Balkans > Burek > Booze > Books’ at Morocco Bound: an afternoon reflecting on the future of the region through a celebration of Balkan culture, music, literature, and food.
The Balkans is a geographical location in Southeast Europe, made up of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Croatia, Greece, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey. Despite the 32 degree heat and restrictions on how many people can attend, Morocco Bound was filled with a diverse group of individuals. UK Balkan diaspora and beyond came together to engage in a diverse range of themes, discussions, and experiences. At the end of the event, all participants were asked to write down what they hope to see for the future of the region.
Here we will share the comments by attendees and reshare the ideas of the speakers, to reflect on the main points drawn from the afternoon and bring together a unified vision for the future progression of the Balkans.
Environmental and Ecological Preservation
Environmental and ecological preservation was a pertinent theme of the night. The Balkans is home to an abundance of rivers, mountains, lakes, seas, and ecosystems yet environmental policy does not get the attention it deserves by regional governments. Enna Kebo spoke on the importance of conservation in Montenegro. Enna was born and raised in London but originates from Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina. She spoke of her work with two environmental NGOs in Montenegro: ‘Zero Waste Montenegro’ and ‘Ecobiom Montenegro’. Zero Waste Montenegro hopes to turn Gusinje, a small town near the Albanian border, into the first ‘zero waste’ city in the country. It is a cross-border project between Montenegro and Albania, hoping to initiate environmental legislation and shift the attitude of its citizens. Montenegro mismanages 95% of its waste, the highest in the Mediterranean. Ecobiom, the other NGO from the coastal town of Sutomore, focuses on improving public and ecological health. With a number of initiatives, one being litter picking, obstacles to success included a limited turnout. Despite a general indifference for the environment in Montenegro, Enna reflected on how this could easily turn around. Montenegro is a small country that hasn’t seen decades of intensive farming or catastrophic environmental degradation like other parts of the world. Traditional cultures of the Balkans align with more sustainable lifestyles (e.g. farming) and so returning to non-Western bases of knowledge will prove vital in forging a specifically Montenegrin ecological outlook. This concern for environmental protection in the Balkans was echoed by the attendees who hope for the ‘celebration and preservation of diverse nature’, the ‘development of sustainable ecotourism’, and ‘better ecological policies- clean-up of plastic, waste management laws, and sustainability efforts.’
You can find out more about the organisations mentioned here: