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Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang (L) and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic (R) cut a ribbon during an opening ceremony of Europe's first Chinese-built project near Belgrade on December 18, 2014.

The West, China, and Russia in the Western Balkans

Dancing in the Dark

July 2020, Number 10.03

“In the new era of great power competition, China and Russia challenge Western and trans- Atlantic security and prosperity, not least in the Western Balkans. The region has shaped the history of modern Europe and has been a gateway between East and West for centuries. In recent years, external players have amplified engagement and influence in the region. The authoritarian external presence in the Western Balkans could be classified as “grafting” — countries such as Russia and Turkey with a long history of engagement in the region — and “grifting” — countries such as China and the Gulf states that bring to bear a more commercial and transactional approach.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of Yugoslavia, which brought bloody conflict to Europe in the 1990s, the political West — the United States and the European Union — and its clear foreign policy toward the Western Balkans have been crucial throughout the process of stabilization, reconstruction, state consolidation and, finally, NATO and EU integration. For Western Balkan countries, accession to Euro Atlantic institutions has been viewed internally and externally as the main mechanism for security, stability and democracy in a troubled region...”

Excerpt from Valbona Zeneli, “Dancing in the Dark,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues  10, No. 3, 2020: 22-29.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.