Josh Friedman

Josh Friedman is an American journalist currently based in Sofia, Bulgaria. He is the English editor and Balkan correspondent for BulgariaAnalytica.org. View his reports from the region at youtube.com/user/joshfriedman11.
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erdogan_trump

  The presidents of the United States and Turkey are finding common ground where seemingly there is none.     There could be many reasons why Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan are not meant to be friends. For one, the U.S. is protecting Erdogan’s archnemesis, Fethullah Gulen. Another is that Washington and Ankara have fractured relations over Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system.   Several other issues pit NATO allies Washington and Ankara against one another, though none larger at the moment than the matter of the Syrian Kurds. To Washington, the Syrian Kurds were the most trusted ally in the fight against the Islamic State. To Ankara, the Syrian Kurd military branch, the YPG, is one and the same with the PKK, which has long waged

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putin zelenskiy1

    So far so good for Volodymyr Zelensky as actual, rather than fictional, president of Ukraine. Or so it seems.   Earlier this month, weeks after securing an unprecedented parliamentary majority to back his presidential mandate, Zelensky stood on the tarmac of Kyiv’s Boryspil Airport greeting freed prisoners returning home from Russia.   It was a dramatic scene with Zelensky playing a key supporting, if not starring, role. In addition to getting back film director Oleh Sentsov, who had become a renowned political prisoner, the Ukrainian sailors who were captured by Russian forces in the Kerch Strait also returned home. This made for a joyous occasion in Kyiv.   Zelensky’s approval rating is sky high, with a recent poll putting it above 70 percent. The prisoner swap certainly doesn’t

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lodkite

  The offshore business, investment and banking world, at times, carries a pretty bad rap in Eastern Europe. Often when people think of going offshore, what comes to mind is corrupt officials siphoning off public funds, then moving their assets to international tax havens and secret bank accounts.   But Eastern European states themselves are havens for business and capital, as well as immigrant investors. With relatively low taxes across the region and low costs of living and labor, Eastern Europe already attracts entrepreneurs, investors and expatriates looking to relocate their businesses, capital and/or themselves to greener pastures.   The lure of Eastern Europe for the nomad capitalist   “I think Eastern Europe is a great place,” global citizenship expert Andrew Henderson said in an interview with Bulgaria Analytica on

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Ekrem Imamoglu campaign signs in Istanbul_1

  Istanbul voters dealt Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a tremendous blow last Sunday when they resoundingly rejected the country’s former prime minister and close Erdogan ally, Binali Yildirim, in his bid to become mayor of Istanbul and maintain the quarter-century grip on Turkey’s largest city that Erdogan and his allies had held.   New Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu defeated Yildirm 54 percent to 45 percent in the re-run of a vote in March that Imamoglu narrowly won. The loss amounted to Erdogan’s first major electoral defeat of his political career and a serious blow to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which Erdogan co-founded. The Turkish president and his allies had controlled Istanbul since Erdogan was elected mayor of the Turkish metropolis 25 years ago.   A variety of

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Хотел Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, място за срещата на Билдерберг през 2019 г. и подписване на Конвенцията от Монтрьо през 1936 г.

  Western elites are struggling to find common ground between the United States and Europe on matters related to China and trade, yet they have a broad consensus on a pressing defense issue — Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile system is damaging to NATO, and if completed, sanctions against Ankara are imminent — according to a surprise Turkish-language BBC report detailing discussions that took place last week at the secretive Bilderberg conference.   Another key takeaway from the Bilderberg group’s conference held last weekend in Montreux, Switzerland is that elites are concerned about what another financial crisis would do to the vulnerable European Union. Western elites see economic growth as a useful tool in their battle against populism and nationalism, but in the case that the European economy were

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WB Summit 1

  The ratification of the Macedonia name deal between Athens and Skopje on Friday capped a year in which the West renewed its focus on integrating the Western Balkans into the Euro-Atlantic community.   Bulgaria factored into the renewed push to integrate the region into NATO and the EU because Sofia made Western Balkan integration a focal point of its European Council presidency that spanned the first half of 2018. Sofia capped its EU presidency by hosting the EU-Western Balkans summit last May. The summit was a high-level gathering of EU and Western Balkan leaders, the first of its kind in 15 years.   Now that 2018 is complete and the Macedonia name dispute has been settled, one can have a clearer look at the fruits of Bulgaria’s push to

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Serbia’s Presevo Valley with the city of Presevo in the foreground

  2018 was supposed to be a year in which Serbia and Kosovo made progress in resolving their longstanding territorial dispute. This year, the European Union moderated more dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, or at least tried to, and set a target date of 2025 for Serbia to join the bloc, an accession that hinges on Serbia striking a deal with Kosovo on normalizing relations. Additionally, a major breakthrough occurred in the middle of the year in another longstanding dispute in the region, the Macedonia name dispute, giving hope that similar progress may occur in Serbia-Kosovo relations.   Yet, 2018 is concluding with Pristina imposing and hiking tariffs on imports from Serbia (and from Bosnia) and voting to turn the Kosovo Security Force into a regular army. Meanwhile, Belgrade is

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minds

  A battle is on for what is read, watched and listened to on the internet.  Authoritarian regimes are devising systems of internet censorship, while hackers and technological innovators are devising ways to get around these virtual barriers. In the West, some legislation poses threats to internet freedom, but at the moment, social media is the major battlefield in the fight for and against free expression online. At present, major social media platforms are becoming increasingly hostile toward free speech. Meanwhile, disillusionment with what appears to be a big tech crackdown on free expression is giving rise to competition. As competing social media platforms roll out, the battle for market share will have implications on future political discourse. Major players in tech and media are already taking sides.   The

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Social Media Purge Article

  With no apparent warning, Facebook purged a total of more than 800 pages and accounts last week, targeting western alternative media publications and anti-establishment journalists and activists, particularly in the United States. Unnoticed to some, Twitter followed suit by banning certain journalists and activists caught up in the Facebook purge.   Facebook released a detailed statement explaining the purge as a removal of pages and accounts that were blasting out massive amounts of content, including spam or clickbait, in order to drive traffic to websites and profit, largely off of ad revenue. There may be some truth to the allegations, at least in the case of some of the accounts purged. And Facebook has numerous rules — which most of its users do not keep track of — that

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Protest in Banja Luka 1

  Election snapshot   Late in a campaign dominated by typical ethnic divisions and nationalist rhetoric arose a rather touching story of Bosnians of different ethnicities uniting against abuse of power. But when the votes were counted, nationalist politics prevailed, with one notable exception. And in the case of the nationalist leader who lost, there may be an unintended consequence of even more divisiveness and gridlock in Bosnia. Meanwhile, with Bosnia’s Euro-Atlantic integration progressing at a snail’s pace, other geopolitical actors, including the Russian and Turkish governments, can exploit these tensions, leaving the country in a volatile situation.   The drama and complexity   At least several thousand and possibly tens of thousands of people gathered in the center of Banja Luka Friday night, the final night for rallies ahead