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Covid-19 and the geopolitics of the Balkans

How have China, Russia, Turkey and others stepped up their activities in the Balkans at a time when the prospect of enlargement is diminished?


Justyna Szczudlik

Head of Asia-Pacific Programme and China analyst, Polish Institute of International Affairs,

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The broad issue is how China, Russia, Turkey and others have stepped up their activities in the Balkans at a time when the enlargement perspective is sinking below the horizon, despite repeated promises that all Balkan countries will become EU members. In realpolitik terms, outside powers are trying to fill a vacuum which is largely of our own making.  Areas concerned include public health (vaccine diplomacy), investment, infrastructure, (BRI), energy, and defence. The situation would look very different if the EU had extended its vaccine, employment and recovery initiatives to the 17.5 million people of the region.