Balkan info-tour report: Niš – Sofia – Istanbul – Thessaloniki

The delegation of the anti-authoritarian movement from Ljubljana that is participating in the Organizational Assembly of BAB2023 have travelled to Sofia (Bulgaria) to support the Anti-Lukov March on the 25th of February. They used this opportunity and visited also Niš (Serbia), Thessaloniki (Greece) and Istanbul (Turkey) to meet comrades from the anarchist movement, establish new contacts, promote BAB2023 and talk about ongoing struggles, international and mutual solidarity.

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First stop was Niš in Serbia where comrades, previously involved in antifa initiative and anarchist zin Bura, were hosting the delegation. In 2013 they were having an antifa social space for some time and few years ago the attempt of squatting the airplane exhibited near the airport was prevented by the police. Sadly it seems that there is not a lot of opportunities for living in this southern periphery of Serbia, although on local faculties some progressive circles can be found – conservative environment and lack of jobs forces a lot of people to move in Belgrade or foreign countries.


After Niš, delegation travelled to Sofia in Bulgaria where protests against the nazi Lukov March are taking place since 2011 and which are an example of what a local movement with international support is capable of doing on the long run. At the antifascist demo around 300 people came together. The crowd was very heterogeneous with quiet some internationalists gathered – a big part from Balkan countries (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece) but also from Austria, Germany, Italy and Sweden. Among a lot of speeches and symbolic points to stop at the protest, one of the stronger one was in front of the Italian embassy in solidarity with Alfredo Cospito, a political prisoner from Italy that is on hunger strike against the brutal 41 BIS prison regime. Finally we must stress that what was gonna be the 20th anniversary of the Lukov March, nazis even cancelled their protest in the last moment since they were few and knew they will be blocked.

Day after the demo an international assembly was organized in social space Fabrika Avtonomia – kind of informal meeting of Balkan anarchist network and wider. Reflection of the demonstration was made and also updates on recent antifascist mobilization in Budapest (Hungary) was given. It was pleasant to hear that group Antifa Sofia – which was also calling for the Anti-lukov March, is thinking of organizing on a more regular basis with regular activities. Among other, topic of Balkan Anarchist Bookfair was discussed – during what also the idea of self-organized “balkan-express” bus to the bookfair going trough different countries – maybe starting from Thessalonikki, arose. After, the point of delegation visiting Istanbul was opened – information was exchanged, border regime discussed and political importance of Balkan Solidarity Network being reconnected with anarchist movement there (which was weakened by rise of authoritarian system – specially after 2016 cup attempt) stressed. Strong solidarity with comrades and other people trying to provide mutual-aid in Turkey, in by earthquake affected area, was expressed, donations collected and mandate to the delegation heading to Istanbul given to deliver and hand over donations to the movement according to its judgement in the name of the Balkan Solidarity Network present on the assembly. In Sofia also comradely relationship with counter-culture group running 13eneath 12eality space and Violetki feminist collective present in Kopriva space were deepen.


Because of the border regime not everyone was able to go to Turkey, so delegation split – part of it going to visit Thessaloniki. Border with Turkey was passed without problems, as explained later – going just to Istanbul there are normally no problems, but if people want to travel further east they can be submitted to greater control. In Istanbul two interesting parts of the anarchist movement were met. One arising from so called “situationists” ideas (what would mean organising activities around concrete situations and being against structures – as understood by the delegation) and another part organized around loose “anarchist earthquake solidarity coordination” (also social anarchists, among other thinking of building in more structured ways).

Anarchist earthquake solidarity coordination in Turkey

Being there in the beginning of March it was three weeks after the earthquake disaster that mainly hit south-east of Turkey and north-east Syria. It was the time that many people were returning from the effected area, the time when those who was saved was saved from the wrecks and the time when state, in its state of emergency manner, was starting to enforce its authoritarian and corrupted policies in the affected area. While being there people protesting in front of the red crescent against corruption were beaten up and arrested and people in some self-organized hubs in earthquake affected area were given ultimatum by the army to be removed or else. In the light of clero-fascist state preparing for upcoming election in May, in conditions of war and economic crises there is not much space left for people being publicly critical or be able to organize politically.

The delegation was able to meet a lot of comrades involved in different initiatives, but not a lot of organized groups; it was clear that strong movement was radically effected by the processes taking place after shady coup attempt in 2016. Part of the movement is involved in self-organized cooperatives, solidarity economy and cultural production – was stressed by the “situationist political stream”, while drinking Zapatista coffee. They are also having idea of regional connecting within south-east Mediterranean (culturally, politically and economically), since they feel rooted in tradition of this geography. Also it is important to mention that they are, in large part, living in communal way as well as having “studios” for cooperatives, music practices and are, with stalls, present on open markets to distribute goods from connected farms.

Later delegation move from Bayoglu and Taksim district to Asian side of Istanbul in Kadikoy to meet with ex-DAF members (Revolutionary Anarchist Action, later, when co-organised by Karala organization in Ankara, renamed in Revolutionary Anarchist Federation and soon after dissolved). In what seems to be self-reflected manner they explain reasons for the decision to dissolve their organization which were largely based on inner (informal) hierarchies and disability to resolve them. After, there was another meeting organized – this time wider also including comrades from “anarchist earthquake solidarity coordination” Anarsist Dayanisma Koordinasyonu. Beside the topics of recent earthquake and upcoming elections they are (as individuals) also involved in media work on social media (like Barikat Haber), food not bombs, syndicalists fights of delivery service workers, student study groups, prisoner and migrant solidarity work, queer communities and prostitutes organizing (which are supported with the “studio” offering infrastructure support).

With everyone importance of international solidarity was discussed and wish to connect more. As the rigid visa border regime and economic situation seen as one of the biggest obstacle for travelling, it was decided that together we will do our best that at least some of them will come to participate at Balkan Anarchist Bookfair and St. Imier gathering.


While in Thessaloniki, Libertatia squat was visited, which is still in process of rebuilding and on high alert, since attempt of eviction can happen any time, what was experienced with Mundo Nuevo, managed by Collective for Social Anarchism Black and Red, some time ago. Despite its loss Black and Red collective, also part of APO (Anarchist Political Organization – Federation of Collectives), is still standing strong and is searching the way to resolve the issue. Although APO is organizing Libertarian Festival in the same time as Balkan Anarchist Bookfair will take place they will see is some would manage to visit it.

In the ex-school occupation – Sxoleio, comrades express their worries in connection with occupied factory on the outskirts of the city – Viome, since the most of the property, where self-organized workers are producing cleaning products, was sold to new private business – except one building on the parcel. Comrades from Sxoleio also introduced an agro-initiative organized in their space with which, immediately after, collaboration with Ljubljana’s sister initiative was established.

Just after the visit of Thessaloniki the train catastrophe in Tempi happened – the delegation proposed a solidarity statement with people and their struggles against the state and capital in Greece in the context of this accident. Organizational Assembly of Balkan Anarchist Bookfair supported the statement.

Re-occupation of Mundo Nuevo squat in Thessaloniki, 16th of March 2023

Check the list of upcoming info-events leading up to BAB2023 here