The Western Balkans as a Geopolitical Chessboard? Myths, Realities and Policy Options
BiEPAG Policy Brief June 2019
32 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2019 Last revised: 10 Jul 2019
Date Written: June 1, 2019
European decision-makers have been increasingly claiming that the EU should move on to contain the negative influence in the Western Balkans of other external actors, namely, Russia, China, Turkey and the Gulf countries. The net effect of this shift in discourse is the resurfacing of EU enlargement in the Western Balkans on the European political agenda. While the renewed EU interest in the Western Balkans is without doubt positive, it rests on several myths and misconceptions. Between the view of regional governments, who often perceive this plethora of external involvement as a boon to a region suffering from Western neglect and much reduced foreign investments following the global economic crisis, and the view that a sinister threat emanates from all engagement by non-Western actors, a more nuanced understanding has to emerge. This policy brief identifes these fallacies and articulates some policy recommendations.
Keywords: Western Balkans, EU Enlargement, Turkey, Russia, China, UAE
JEL Classification: Z39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation