Chinese-Serbian Economic Cooperation: Sudden Wealth and a Game of Musical Chairs

Chinese investments in Serbia provide an interesting political and economic setting. From the Serbian perspective, a rising global power is offering formidable resources for development. These are coupled with sufficient geographical (and perhaps geopolitical) distance so as to appear merely and genuinely ‘business-oriented’. In a seemingly intensifying game of ‘musical chairs’ between strategic orientations of Serbia towards the EU/US and/or Russia, the Chinese offerings might indeed seem like an escapist dream. Yet, as recent events tend to show, the geopolitical distance is shrinking fast and China is likely to introduce its own chair into the game at one point. What remains to be seen is whether it will be too hot for Serbia to sit on when the time comes. Read more ...

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Recommendation: Left Behind? Reassessing the Balkan Quest for EU Integration

At the fringes of the European Union, but entirely engulfed by it, the Balkan countries have set upon their quest for integration ever since the late ‘90s. In their lasting interaction, the partners have engaged in an often inconsistent negotiation framework that moved from the idea of ‘sharing everything but institutions’ to a more cautious approach, dominated by (im)patience and mutual demands that did not generate any tangible outcome. Read more ...

China’s Offering in the Western Balkans

China’s role in the contemporary international order has exponentially grown over the past decade and has culminated with president Xi’s announcement of the ‘millennium project’: One Belt One Road (or the Belt and Road Initiative).  Considering that no country is currently offering such an ambitious endeavor to the world in the near future, China has underlined its leading position in the global agora. And a key role in the revitalization of the ancient Silk Road was put forward for the Western Balkan countries. Read more ...

Core-Peripheries Relation Preserved despite EU Integration

A quarter of century after the transformation processes began in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and over ten years after the largest enlargement of the EU, the division between core and peripheries has deepened. Compared to the 1990 period and to parallel developments in Western Europe show that while development in the East did happen, the gap between the ‘rich’ West and the ‘poor’ East and South remained. Read more ...

The European Union’s Perennial Turkish Dilemma

Given their geopolitical position and economic interdependence, in all likelihood, Turkey and the European Union (still) have much to offer each other. Going back from the establishment of the modern republic on the ruins of the former Ottoman Empire, throughout the long Cold War years, and then in the post-9/11 era, Turkey’s officially stated position in the liberal world order has been that of an aspiring Western power and European partner, with Islamic characteristics. Read more ...

The EU Factor: GDP per Capita | #BalkanStats

This is the first material in our Balkan Stats series. Every post will focus on a statistically relevant indicator, briefly showing how the Balkan trends converge or diverge due to the various economic and political allegiances of the constituent states.  Comments are reduced to a bare minimum, letting figures do the talking for themselves. This week, Horia Ciurtin - our Senior Expert - depicts how GDP per capita (PPP) varies in accordance with EU membership. Read more ...

Russia’s Interests in Kosovo’s Election

While the EU waited for the elections in Kosovo and hoped that the process would lead to a more stable government that would tackle the true problems of the former Yugoslav entity, the latest negotiations among the political parties have quickly dashed all of those hopes. The PDK-run PAN coalition’s political tango and the power gained by Vetevendosje alone prove that Kosovo could be heading for a crisis that could easily derail the country from the European path. Read more ...

Geopolitical Influence on Media and Media Freedom in the Western Balkans

In the beginning of the ‘2000s, media in the Western Balkans failed to face problems of corruption, manipulation and political propaganda that – in time – evolved to be an easy target for external actors and open possibilities for increasing their soft power in certain countries and, therefore, in the entire region. This brief aims to analyze how globally (or regionally) relevant powers – US, Russia and Turkey – are using the media in Western Balkan countries and its loopholes to maximize their geopolitical interests. Read more ...