ERSTE Stiftung Editions

The Balkans – A Future in Present Tense

With this speech, the Serbian author Biljana Srbljanović opened the Balkan Case Challenge 2009 held in Vienna from 6 to 11 July 2009. This annual competition, supported by ERSTE Foundation, aims at opening up opportunities and new perspectives for excellent students from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia through strengthening links between higher education and employment and by the provision of concrete job opportunities. In addition, the Balkan Case Challenge contributes to an increased awareness about the potentials of South Eastern Europe – being an integrative part of a joint Europe.


Biljana Srbljanović (*1970, Stockholm, Sweden), playwright and politician, divides her time between Azerbaijan and Serbia. Her very first play, the internationally acclaimed The Belgrade Trilogy, was first staged at the Yugoslav Drama Theatre in Belgrade in 1996. Following its successful premiere it was shown in many other countries like Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, the UK and Scandinavian countries. In Austria, Biljana Srbljanović is especially remembered for her fourth play, Supermarket, which premiered in May 2000 at the Wiener Festwochen theatre festival. In 2006 she won the New Theatrical Realities Award, one of the most prominent European theatre awards.

Alongside her writing career, Srbljanović is also an outspoken figure in Serbian public life. She is known for frequently speaking out on various political issues, as well as for railing against what she calls “the irresponsibility of the political elite and belligerent nationalism in Serbia” and “the culture of violence and exclusion of sexual minorities in Serbian daily life”. Animal rights are also very important to her. In 2008 she ran for mayor of Belgrade as the official candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), reaching the fourth place.