Nedad Memić: New Crisis, Old Perception? The “Balkan Route” in the German-Language Media

Since last summer, Southeast Europe has been in the focus of international politics and the media. This time, the reason does not originate from the region itself, but was imposed on the Balkan countries, beginning with Macedonia and Serbia. The influx of refugees from the Near and Middle East region reached its peak in the autumn months, being accompanied by pictures, ranging from unpleasant to horrific, of people trying to find a safe haven in some of the Western European countries. As mentioned in the articles in this volume, the terms Western Balkans and Western Europe are political instruments used by the latter for purposes of distinction, as are the images of the Balkan Route in the German-language media, which is investigated in the present paper.

The following comment is based on analyzing the media coverage of the so-called Balkan Route taken by refugees, as described in selected German-language media in 2015 and 2016. The central questions are: What does the perception of the Balkan Route and the situation of refugees look like in selected, highly frequented German-language media? Is the perception of the Balkan Route influenced by the general perception of the region in the German-speaking countries and the EU? Can we draw historical parallels with the perception and the dealing of some past crises in the Balkan region from former European powers? …