The construction of highways in southeastern Serbia had been the dream of many generations since the lack of road infrastructure was considered a major cause of underdevelopment. The commencement of work, however, brought problems that none of the residents had thought they would face.
Most of the road projects are undertaken by Greek construction companies that sometimes have Greek employees. The arrival of foreign workers brought on an increase in mixed romantic relationships between Greek men and Serbian women. This phenomenon wouldn’t have been a problem if all the women involved were actually single.
The “love road,” as it was named by the Serbian press, also strikes married women, something that concerns local communities. There was an increase in divorces during this last year, in the cities of Pirot and Bela Palanka, something that residents believe is a consequence of the arrival of the Greeks that are employed by the construction companies.
The director of the Pirot municipality Centre for Social Support, Maria Vasic, explains that “during an economic crisis, it is common for a marriage to be tested and for one of the spouses to seek better living conditions.” As she continues, for women “foreigners are presented as a new opportunity to escape poverty and seek a better life.”
The men, however, don’t share this opinion. That is why the issue was addressed during a meeting of the town council in Bela Palanka. The Socialist Party (SPS) councilor, Dusan Jovanovic, brought the issue up for debate and said that: “The Greeks are taking our girls and this is not bad. Let the girls live in Greece if they want to and if they think it is better over there. However, we won’t tolerate it if they take married women as well.”
The city council decided to establish a committee in order to examine the issue. According to residents of Bela Palanka testimonies, the Greek workers bring relatives or friends from Greece to seek their romantic interest in the region. Many of these relationships end in marriage.
Southeastern Serbia is the poorest region in the country. The prospect of a better life is a great challenge for women. As great as the temptation of foreigners, given that the area is known for its beautiful women.