Sunday, April 3, 2011


I found a ticket on Airberlin for €125 ($180) from Vienna to Belgrade. So in a couple of weeks I'm off to Serbia. I won't spend the entire time in Belgrade. I plan to take the train to Sarajevo so I'll be in Bosnia and Herzegovina for half of my trip.

Following the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia. Austro-Hungary was allied with Germany, Serbia was allied with Russia. Everyone else got pulled in due to military alliances and we ended up with WWI.

During the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s, Serbia received international sanctions which led to economic hardship, hyperinflation and political isolation. Yugoslavia (then made up of just Serbia and Montenegro) even got thrown out of the United Nations. Then in 1999, NATO bombed Serbia due to what was going on in Kosovo.

Fortunately, things have more or less stabilized in Serbia. The fighting in the Balkans is over, the economy is better, Serbia is back in the UN and the country has applied to join the EU. However, Kosovo remains an issue. Serbia still considers Kosovo to be part of Serbia even though many countries have recognized Kosovo's independence.

I wanted to squeeze in a visit to Prishtina, Kosovo's capital. But it is just way too complicated. You may not enter Serbia from Kosovo unless you originally entered Kosovo from Serbia. If you enter Kosovo from Montenegro, Macedonia or Albania, or fly to Kosovo directly, then you are not allowed to enter Serbia. You have to go back to another country and enter Serbia directly. Good grief! I had thought about going from Belgrade to Sarajevo then to Prishtina (by way of Montenegro) and then back up to Belgrade. But this rule would have stopped me at the border so I'll just do Kosovo some other time.

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