Outside EU walls

An incomplete Team Serbia made it to Belgrade on the 25th of March, and slowly, but steadily started their work in the former Yugoslav Country.

The team’s trip to Serbia, the only non-EU country on the Euroviews website, was hard on two of the three Dutch speaking members. While Coen Van De Ven spent two hours in Frankfurt Airport getting to his passport (trapped in his suitcase in the hold of an Airbus A320), Jiri Haanen had the misfortune of being denied entry into Serbia.

A National ID, that was stolen and recovered a while ago, had put Jiri on the radar of Europol. Jiri will travel back to Malmo, then onto the Netherlands, in order to get the passport that’s now needed, despite of Serbia actually allowing EU citizens to enter with National IDs.

Jiri will make his way back to Belgrade as soon as possible, and the whole of Team Serbia is looking forward to his return.

Throughout Belgrade you will see buildings that are either ready to be torn down or in the process of being rebuilt.

A city defined by history
For Northern Europeans Belgrade is a city that shows it’s – often somewhat tragic – history clearly. Big socialist structures and classical buildings from the early 1900s share signs of decay caused by a combination of a lack of maintenance and, in some cases, the American NATO bombings in 1999. In between the very different styles, newer “luxury” apartments appear from the ground, many still in the process of being completed.

At first sight, the residents of Belgrade fit the ‘Balkan stereotype’; They are serious, appear to be hardened and their weary eyes give away a hint of their former pain.

The look however, is deceiving. A cab driver helped half of team Serbia catch a public bus while the passengers almost fought for the privilege of helping the three journalists get off at the correct stop. Waiters are equally happy to have Team Serbia in their capital and have come close to hugging them, when they bring their empty glasses to the counter.

Getting a feel for the city

The 26th of March was the first workday for Team Serbia. Tomas van der Heijden arrived late the night before and spent the day checking out the culture with his host who, as Jiri and Tomas ensured, was a founder of an NGO and an effective networker.

Esben Pejstrup spend the day working on an invitation to Frederica Mogherini’s upcoming speech at Belgrade University, only to be informed, that it was cancelled in the afternoon. Jack Cairns prepared for interviews on Friday, and Coen van de Ven went ahead and met some of the people on his interview list. The three then met up to take in the sights of one of Belgrade’s many museums.

The coming days in Serbia will centre on the production side and sending warm thoughts to Jiri. But the team are confident, that they will also find opportunities to enjoy the city and the warm people, cuisine and bars that occupy almost every street in Belgrade.