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The World Media’s Assault on Serbia


 

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We’ve all heard about the crimes that Serb troops committed in Bosnia, Croatia and in Kosovo I Metohija. I’m sure some of the acts we heard and read about in the western media were true, while many of them were intentionally fabricated. Don’t get me wrong, any crime committed is a horrible thing and should be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice, but be fair!

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One example of media fabrication  would be the claim that Serbs were setting up concentration camps in Bosnia and starving the victims. This  American gentleman explains the photo in detail in this short Youtube clip.

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What about the Croats cleansing hundreds of thousands of Serbs from their birthplace? Why didn’t my media bombard me with newspaper headlines and news stories about that?

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Serbs Being Forced out of Croatia

The Serbs have been tried and convicted for war crimes in the Hague at an alarming rate. Did former Croat general Ante Gotovina and ex-special police chief Mladen Markac receive just punishment for the atrocities committed against ethnic Serbs during Operation Storm in 1995? Nope…..

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Albanian ripping cross off of a Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo

What about the Albanians destroying hundreds of homes and over 100+ churches? Did any of that make the headlines in my country? Nope….. They were friends of the US and NATO and we were about to make a lot of money off of their new “country”. Bill Clinton couldn’t allow Americans to see pics and video of our “friend” and “ally” ripping crosses off of churches. The people might have started asking a few more questions if they had.

The media doesn’t want to talk about that stuff, but they never take a break from finding things that could make the Serbs look bad.

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Take the Serb football fans who chanted derogatory things at that Brazilian football player for instance, that made headlines in every corner of the globe.  It’s sad and uncalled for, but you can’t judge an entire nation by the words of a few football fans! If we judged every nation’s citizens by the acts of football fans, you’d probably think the world was filled with demons.

Serbia shouldn’t be labeled as a country of “racists”. It’s just not true. The U.S. and England aren’t ones that should be pointing fingers and calling anyone racist. If I remember correctly, both of them took part in the slave trade. Slavery wasn’t outlawed in the United States until 1863. Hell, Blacks couldn’t even vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Did Serbia ever have slaves? No!

I’m not black so it makes little sense for me to sit here and tell you that Serbia isn’t a racist country. You should listen to some of my friends who are:

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Sheriff is a young man from Liberia who has been living in Norway for a number of years. I was able to sit down with him and ask him some questions about Serbia and if he had any issue with racism.

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Arthur is another good friend of mine. He’s an American from the great state of New Jersey. He just completed his 6 trip to Serbia and will be back in May for his 7th. Has he experienced any racism? Listen to him and find out.

 

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Dara is a lovely gal who lives in Ireland. She contacted me before her first visit with some concerns about being black in Serbia. She took the leap and loved every second of it! Here is my interview with her.

12936611_10105593675346795_5534105201918857505_nHeather is a beautiful young lady from the state of Louisiana. She has spent the last few summers in Serbia and has never had any negative situations. She said that Serbian people sometimes stare at her, but it’s a stare of curiosity, not a stare of contempt like happens in some places in the US.

There are more folks, but I didn’t get their permission to write about them. One is an African American gal who married a Serbian in a small village here in Vojvodina. She lives with her children and Serbian husband in a tiny village and has no issues with racism. There are tons of African American football players who come here each year and have nothing but great things to say about the hospitality and kindness of the Serbian people.

I’ve been living in this country for close to 6 years now and the media bias is so blatantly obvious. I’m always asking my Serbian friends how they can keep their cool and not let that get to them. It would be hard to have the whole world accusing you and vilifying you all the time. One of my friends said it best “We have gotten used to it. F*** the rest of the world. We have good looking women, good food, and great nightlife. We don’t need their approval”

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Posted by on March 5, 2017 in Through my eyes

 

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Serbian Grandma and Sarma

Serbian Grandma and Sarma

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One of my dearest friends here in Serbia is a Norwegian from the northern region of Norway. We met up last winter at Horus Nargile Bar and have been great friends ever since. He was born and raised in Norway, but his father’s side of the family are Serbs from Croatia who were forced out of Zagreb during the 90’s. He’s in his 2nd year of English medical school here in Novi Sad.

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Church in Sirig

Last Sunday, he asked me to go with him and his beautiful girlfriend to his grandmother’s house in  Sirig, Serbia for lunch. Sirig is a pretty little village about 20km from Novi Sad. I knew all about his grandmother’s cooking because I was there for a birthday party last summer and she sent over some sarma for me a few times so I was thrilled to go. He tells me that his grandma is going to teach me to make sarma 🙂
We arrived at his granny’s house around 1pm. She lives in a big, beautiful home right in the heart of Sirig. There are tons of fruit and nut trees in her back yard,  a large garage  and two floors of living space. She had the table all laid out and prepared for our arrival.  The older women in Serbia really know how to take care of a dinner guest. We had some of her homemade rakija and beer, and then she brings out this lovely homemade soup.
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Next round of food comes after she clears the soup and bowls from the table. The ladies seem to refuse your offer of assistance 🙂 This round was some appetizers of cold meats, homemade cheese, cvarci (fried pork fat), cabbage salad and pickled red peppers.

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The next round of food was some delicious pork and beef goulash that was poured over pasta noodles, fried pork strips and some delicious fried cauliflower.  That’s the first time in my life I tried fried cauliflower, but it was really good.

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Nikola, grandma and Valerija

By now we have eaten ourselves into oblivion. We have to take a break for my sarma lesson. Sarma is one of my favorite foods here in Serbia. It’s a leaf of soured cabbage with meat and rice rolled up inside it.

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1/2 kg of pork with chopped onion in a bowl

She starts off by putting 1/2 kg of pork into a bowl with a cut up onion.

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1 carrot, one potato, and another onion

She likes to put a carrot and a potato in her sarama. You don’t have to, but it’s her way of making it. She throws one of each into the food processor and grinds them up.

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add it to the meat and break open an egg

Once it’s all ground up, she throws it in the bowl with the meat and adds one egg to it. You need to put in some salt, pepper and a little Vegeta (Serbian salty spice).

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Rice

Next, you want to add a cup of rice that has been sitting in water for a few minutes to the mixture of meat, etc and mash it around with your hands until it’s all mixed together.

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Soured cabbage leaves

Then you get your soured cabbage leaves ready.  You will then roll up your pork filling  into  balls and place a large ball in the middle of the cabbage leaf and then wrap the leaf around the meat filling

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placing filling into leaf

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Wrapping the sarma

Once you finish wrapping the sarama, you place a large poton the stove. She adds some bacon in the bottom to flavor it up.

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Strips of bacon in the pot

Stack the wrapped sarma around the entire pot, one row on top of the next, until you have it full.

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Filling pot with sarma

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Unused leaves on top

Once you have the pan full, place some unused leaves on top of the sarma and add some sausage , if you like , then place the lid on top. You can turn it on high heat until it gets hot, then turn it down to low heat and cook for 1.5 hours.

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Done

Remove the lid and let cool! It’s now ready to eat! Prepare yourself for a taste of heaven. 🙂

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Delicious sarma

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Svargla

By time the sarma is ready, i’m hungry again. I eat 5 of them and then Nikola’s girlfriend asks me if I’ve ever tried something called svargla. I’m a guy who usually likes everything so I accept a slice. The second it hits my mouth it almost triggers my gag reflex. The taste is HORRIBLE. It’s soft and meaty and reminds me of a juicy meatloaf. Blah! My friends tell me not to eat anymore of it and that it’s mainly a food for old folks. 🙂

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Barrel of sarma

After dinner, the grandmother takes me down to her basement to show me how she makes the soured cabbage. She has a large plastic barrel that she fills with full heads of cabbage, cuts a cross in the base and adds salt to it. After a few days, they are ready for sarma. She also has a lot of nuts from her walnut trees that she separates in the basement.

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Cabbage heads in barrel

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Walnuts

Nikola takes me upstairs to check out the living quarters up there. It’s massively big and beautiful just like a second house. They have a bar with many different kinds of alcohol in beautiful bottles.

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Decor

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Norwegian alcohol

Nikola and I throw down a shot of this Norwegian alcohol that he brought from home. It wasn’t too bad at all.

It’s time to head back to Novi Sad. The neighbor girls are driving back in their car so grandma calls to ask if we can ride with them. They have room so we all squeeze into her little car. Grandma sent me off with bottle of rakija, jar of peppers and a container full of sarma! 🙂 What a great way to spend a lazy Sunday!  I learned a little something, filled my belly and had a slight buzz . 🙂

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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My Expedition in Serbian Vlach Country


My birthday was a few weeks away, Nov 7th, and I was searching around for somewhere to go. I was so very close to booking a flight to Tirana, Albania. That might sound like an odd choice since I’ve been a staunch Serbian supporter for all these years, but I really wanted to meet some Albanians on their home turf. You shouldn’t judge a whole race by the acts of a few freaks on Youtube and Facebook. 🙂 It was time to open my mind and go for something adventurous.

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Well, that all changed because of the video I made showing my support of  Kosovo’s denial into UNESCO. I received some very scary, nasty, and threatening messages from Kosovo and all over Albania. What was I going to do now?

Eastern Serbia is a region that I haven’t had many opportunities to see. It’s filled with some ancient historic sites, beautiful mountains, canyons and untouched forests. It’s also home to a minority group here in Serbia that has always interested me…… Vlachs.

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The Vlachs were totally unknown to me until about 2 years ago. Vampires, spirits, magic and superstitions have always interested me.They are big believers in all of them.

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The Vlachs are a minority group that are spread between Serbia, Hungary, Ukraine,Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Greece and Bulgaria. According to the 2011 census, Serbia has roughly 35,000 Vlachs who mainly reside in the Bor and Zajecar districts of Serbia in the eastern part of the country. They have a separate minority council and are represented in the population censuses as a separate ethnicity. The language spoken by the Vlachs consists of two distinct Romanian subdialects spoken in regions neighboring Romania: one major group of Vlachs speaks the dialect spoken in Mehedinți County in western Oltenia, while the other major group speaks a dialect similar to the one spoken in the neighboring region of Banat .The majority of them follow the Eastern Orthodox faith.

I hadn’t had the opportunity to befriend any of them until last year. One of the students, Marko Radojkovic, signed up on our summer work and travel program last year and we became fast friends. I worked with him a lot on his English and how to get through the U.S. Embassy visa interview. He told me when he returned from the USA, he would take me to see how the Vlachs live in his hometown of Majdanpek.

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Majdanpek is a little town of 7,000 folks nestled in the forests and hills of eastern Serbia. The town is famous as a copper mine district, since the early 17th century. The origin of the name is based on words majdan(related to Turkish madän, mine) and river Pek – mine on river Pek. Throughout its history, mining development was held by many foreign owners (Czechs, Belgians, Austrians) , and was extensively exploited. Today, it’s controlled by the Russians.  The town was industrialized in the mid-20th century, by the industrial program supported by SFR Yugoslavia’s Government of that time, and the personal influence of J.B.Tito (marshal and lifetime prime minister since the end of WWII until 1980). He once referred to it as “The Golden City”.  Through the late 20th century, the town was in a period of industrial progress and one of the most developed areas in copper mining and metallurgy.

I took off work for three days and decided I’d spend it at his place on Friday, and Saturday and Sunday in Donji Milanovac. I met Marko at the bus station in Belgrade early on Friday morning. We boarded the 8:45am bus to Majdanpek. It’s a long trip (3.5 hours) as the roads are not very developed and the bus stops in all the little towns along the way. Marko brought along a little bag full of snacks and a little bottle of homemade rakija, dunja mixed with apple, that made our ride a little more bearable. The bus ticket was only 1300 dinars ($13) for a round trip ticket and it was surprisingly empty. We took up the the 5 seats in the back of the bus and chatted about randomness for the entire ride to Majdanpek. The worst thing about Serbian buses is the lack of a bathroom. You need to make sure you take care of business prior to boarding or you have to ask the driver to pull over on the side of the road. 🙂

 

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Marko told me a lot about the creepy tales of some of the places along the way. We passed this little abandoned house along the way that was known to be haunted. They say that people can hear a baby screaming late into the night from the depths of the old house. No one has been able to stay in the house for an entire night. It would make a great episode of Ghost Hunters.

 

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We finally arrive into Majdanpek. The surrounding area is amazingly beautiful. There are untouched forests with a spatter of farm houses and abandoned homes. My first impression of Majdanpek was how massive the  mine that’s located right beside the town was. They say it’s one of the biggest copper mines in Europe. It’s currently owned by a Russian company and is one of the biggest employers in this region.

 

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The town of Majdanpek is surrounded by forests and almost every single resident lives in an apartment complex. You don’t see very many homes at all. We jump off the bus, grab our bags and head to his family’s clothing store that’s right in the center of Majdanpek. There’s a lovely little church right in the center.

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The town has a downtown area that’s at the bottom of the hill and an uptown area that’s on the top of the hill. It’s no wonder we didn’t see many overweight folks, because it’s a workout to go from one side to the other.

We meet up with his mother at her lovely little clothing store. She’s a very cheerful and welcoming woman. We grab the house keys from her and head up to his apartment. The apartment is a charming little thing that has been remodeled with care. The mother had some hot Vlach pie waiting for us in the oven. It was delicious! It was made with layers of crust with meat and cheese inside it. We ate till we couldn’t eat anymore, showered, drank a coffee and waited on his parents to get home. They had a surprise for me!

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The father and mother arrive in a big yellow van that they use to haul their clothing from Belgrade to Majdanpek. We grab our stuff and jump in the van. They still haven’t told me what we are doing, but we stop off at the tourist organization in the town center. A tour guide hops in and we are on our way to some surprise location. The tour guide is a middle aged lady who speaks English very well. She accidentally mentions something and I know where we are headed, Rajko’s Cave! This is the one tourist site that I had really wanted to visit in Majdanpek, but they had told me it was closed for the season! 🙂 We were going to have a private tour of the cave!

 

Marko and I

Rajko’s Cave is a nature lover’s dream!  The total length of the cave is 2.304 meters while the tourist path is 1.410,5 meters. Air temperature is 8 degrees Celsius and relative humidity is 100%. The cave consists of two physically separated caverns: an underground river channel and a spring cave, both of which have two floors. A series of attractive groupings are found in Rajko’s Cave: The Egyptian Goddes, the Snail, Stump with Mushrooms, Sleeping Bear and several cave halls. The Rajko’s cave has the highest quality of cave ornaments.

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According to a legend, Rajko’s Cave was named after a leader of “hajduks” (outlaws fighting against the Ottoman rule) Rajko, who attacked and robbed people on the way from Donji Milanovac to Majdanpek and hid his prey in the cave. They say the area has been ripe with treasure hunters who have dreams of stumbling upon the riches of Rajko.

 

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The guide takes on an hour long trip through the depths of the gorgeous cave (video available here). She fills us in on all the facts and mysteries surrounding the cave. I’ve been in numerous caves in my life, but this one takes the cake!

 

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They tourist organization and Serbian government have done a great job making this cave tourist friendly. They have beautiful lighting in most areas and pristine walkways and stairs in all the locations. Rajko’s Cave is a must see on any visit to Serbia! You won’t be disappointed!

 

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We depart the cave to explore the surrounding forests and hills. Marko’s parents and the guide head back in the van while Marko and I decide to walk the 3-4 km back to Majdanpek through the dense forests. The area around the entrance has some bbq pits and picnic tables for all of their summer campers. We sip some of the water that’s pouring out of the cave depths. The water is cold and refreshing and very clean!

 

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November was a great time to come to this part of Serbia. The trees were an amazing array of different colors! The pictures do it no justice. We wander around this large lake that’s a few meters from the cave.

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Marko tells me more legends of the area while we walk up this big hill surrounded by thick forests and layers of orange leaves. I’m hoping to catch site of some of the Vlach witches! 🙂 There’s an episode of VICE Serbia that shows some of the strange customs of the old Vlachs that was filmed right around this area.

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They show how some of the Vlach magic believers hang doll heads throughout the forest to rid themselves of evil spirits so that’s what I wanted to see. Well, I would have probably crapped my pants if I had, but it sounds good to say now. We reach an old wooden fence in the middle of the woods where there are bits of clothing wrapped around many of  the little trees. 😮 We don’t know what it was for, but it spooked me a bit. A little later, we run into an old farmhouse up on a hill. There’s an old man entering into his gate with some wood on his back. I wanted to speak to him, but thought better of it.

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We continue on our mission and run into this old bridge that’s made out of broken slats of wood. I’m glad Marko knew about the loose slats, because I would have fell through one or two of them if I had been alone!

We come out of the clearing by the Majdanpek high school and one of the biggest indoor swimming pools in Serbia. It was built during the Yugoslavian times for the Yugoslav National Swim Team to practice in. They don’t have enough money to keep the water heated in the winter months so it was closed. The high school is in very rough shape. There was spray paint and broken windows on many portions of the building. It was Friday evening so school was out, but there was a group of kids sitting on the front steps of the school. We walked around back to see this large monument that Tito had built. It had a large open space in front and seating for some kind of outdoor speeches or performances. The monument was in a similar condition to the school. It had been spray painted on, busted in a few places, and wasn’t worth much of a look.

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The sun was rapidly falling and dinner was ready so we headed back to Marko’s house. Momma had prepared a delicious Vlach meal for us to eat. It was something called vlaski kacamak. It reminded me a little of cornbread-like substance that you place on a plate and then spread this thick, delicious stew of peppers, pork, and sauce all over it! It was terrific! I ate more than I should of while chatting with the family.  Marko had to do all the translations so he was starting to get a headache. 🙂 I hear that from a lot of people who aren’t used to speaking in other languages.

Time to head to downtown to check out the nightlife. We didn’t want to stay long because we had to get up early to explore a few more things and then head to Donji Milanovac. We took a long, easy, downhill walk downtown which was nearly empty for a Friday night. The thing I noticed most was the lack of cafes and bars. The majority of Serbian towns have a trillion of them, but not Majdanpek. We stopped in one of them that was pretty full. Marko’s cousin was in there so they chatted away for a bit while I sucked down a couple beers.

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I saw this little kafana type place on the corner with a bunch of old men in it and told Marko that we had to go there. The old, places are usually some of my favorite places to visit in Serbian towns. I never go alone, but since he was with me we headed inside. It was a lot nicer than I had expected. We watched a little bit of Rocky I on tv, chatted with the waitress and threw down three or four beers.

It was time to head home. Marko didn’t want to catch a taxi which are only 70 dinars in Majdanpek so we walked the whole way uphill! It just about killed me, but didn’t seem to phase him. 🙂

The parents had my bed made for me and I crashed for the night in the home of a Vlach.

Continued in the next article……. If you want to see the video I made of this first part of the trip, click here.

 

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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Serbia’s Relationship with Mexico


Serbia and Mexico are two countries I have spent numerous time in. They are both wonderful countries with rich history, unique foods, great beverages, pretty girls, kind and hospitable people. I really got a kick out of Serbian women watching Mexican soap operas. I was down in Pirot and my buddy told me how his grandmother spoke zero English… BUT she understood a little Spanish because of them. 🙂

I decided to look for Serbian organizations, communities, etc in Mexico. I found some interesting info…..

Mexico has had a friendly relationship with Serbia for many years. Mexico has had diplomatic relations with the region since 1946. They carried over their diplomatic relations to Serbia after the break up of Yugoslavia. They have an embassy in Belgrade while Serbia has an embassy in Mexico City.

One of the biggest dividing points between Serbia and the rest of the world is the  disputed region of Kosovo. Mexico is one of the many countries that does not recognize the independence of Kosovo. They met with former Serbian Foreign Minster in 2008 and assured Serbia that it wouldn’t support the independence declaration from the Kosovar government.

Mexico and Serbia have been trading partners for many years. The trade is very lopsided with Mexico exporting over 10 million euros and importing barely 1 million euro of Serbian goods as of 2007 trade figures

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One of the best known Serbian names in Mexico is Bora Milutinovic “The Miracle Worker”. He is one of the greatest soccer coaches in the history of the world. He is one of only two coaches that has guided 5 different teams to the World Cup…. Mexico(1984), Costa Rica(1990), USA(1994), Nigeria(1998) and China in (2002). He is also the first coach in World Cup history to take 4 different teams past the first round. Soccer runs in the families blood. Him and his two brothers all played for the Serbian club Partizan.  He is currently married to a Mexican lady and living in Qatar.http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport3/worldcup2002/hi/team_pages/china/newsid_1618000/1618475.stm

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2012 in Through my eyes

 

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What do I think of when someone says Serbia? SPORTS


Serbia is a small country but they are tough, determined and very competitive  when it comes to athletics! Serbia is a nation of athletes. The most popular sports are soccer, basketball, tennis, water polo, handball and volleyball. It seems that every young person I know is involved in some sport. Their national teams have had lots of success in each of the following….

Basketball…… Serbia is known throughout the world as a basketball powerhouse… There is a saying that says “Canadians invented basketball but the Yugoslavs perfected it”  Serbia  boasts over 20+ former and current NBA players… including:

Vlade Divac– former LA Laker favorite

Predrag Stojakovic– three time NBA all-star and Dallas Maverick

and current greats like Vladimir Radmanovic, Darko Milicic-the 2nd pick in the 2003 NBA draft behind Lebron James and Aleksandar Pavlovic.

If you group Yugoslavias medals in with Serbia.. They have 5 Gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze medals in the FIBA World championship…. one of their most memorable wins was defeating the USA “NBA star filled ” team  in Indianapolis in 2002. They also hold 8 gold, 6 silver and 3 bronze medals in the European Baskeball championships and 1 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze in Olympic competition. And who knows where Serbia could be now  had it not been for them being restricted from playing for a few years  during the 90’s as punishment for their involvement in the wars.

Waterpolo…..Serbia is also known throughout the world as a dominate force in waterpolo…. Serbia won the 2006 European championship,and again this year! They were the runner up in 2008. They won they won the bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics and won the 2009 World Championship!

Handball…..Serbia is also a force in handball. Prior to visiting Serbia… i knew nothing about handball! I have grown to love the sport! It is very exciting and full of action. Serbia has won two bronze medals in the World Handball Championships and one silver in this years European Championship and a bronze in years past.

Volleyball….. Serbia is also one of the top world players in volleyball. They won the bronze in the 2007 European Championship and the gold in 2011! They will be a force for many years to come!!

Tennis……Tennis, tennis, tennis….. I bet you have never heard of Novak Djokovic! :)… He is the #1 tennis player in the world and a Serbian icon! He has brought pride to every corner of Serbia and is a helping to squash the former, media generated image of Serbians. He became a tennis pro in 2003 and carries a career record of 401-111 and holds 29 titles … the most recent was the longest match in Grand Slam history at the Australian Open in a 5 hr and 53 min victory over Nadal.  WE ALL LOVE DJOKOVIC!

Soccer or “football” …. Last but not least in popularity is soccer or “football” as it is known in Serbia and most places throughout the world. The two most popular teams are Partizan and Red Star. I have yet to experience a soccer match in Serbia. I am petrified of the “hooligans” or the PASSIONATE fans of both teams. Many fights, brawls, yelling matches , etc … erupt over this sport!!! I have been told its not safe to wear red and white or black and white when wandering the streets in Belgrade and Novi Sad.  It seems that half of the country likes Partizan and half the country likes Red Star… I stay out our it for my own safety! :)… Red Star was founded in 1945 as the “United alliance of anti-facist youth” and Partizan was “the club of Yugoslav Peoples Army.” When the play each other it is known as the “ETERNAL DERBY.”  The Partizan fans are known as “gravediggers” while the Red Star fans have been known to be called “Delije or Cigani” the latter meaning GYPSIES. Since 2008 Partizan has dominated the derby winning by a score of 8-1 with one tie…

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Through my eyes

 

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