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

See all articles by Florian Bieber

Florian Bieber

Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz

Nikolaos Tzifakis

University of Peloponnese - Dept. of Political Science & International Relations

Date Written: June 1, 2019

Abstract

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

Bieber, Florian and Tzifakis, Nikolaos, The Western Balkans as a Geopolitical Chessboard? Myths, Realities and Policy Options (June 1, 2019). BiEPAG Policy Brief June 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3406295

Florian Bieber

Centre for Southeast European Studies, University of Graz ( email )

Universitaetsstrasse 15 / FE
A-8010 Graz, 8010
Austria

Nikolaos Tzifakis (Contact Author)

University of Peloponnese - Dept. of Political Science & International Relations ( email )

Corinth
Greece

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