This article is the English version of Ana Krstinovska,
« La Chine dans les Balkans occidentaux », published in Politique étrangère, Vol. 87, Issue 4, 2022.

Photo de Max Kukurudziak (Unsplash), montagne des Balkans, ruines d'une muraille.

The Balkan region is historically and geographically an intersection of different migration routes and civilizations. Its attractiveness to a number of foreign states seeking to pursue their interests makes the region susceptible to influence both from the East and the West. At present, all Balkan countries are either EU members or seeking to join the EU, while some are also NATO members; they seem to be firmly anchored ideologically in the camp of pro-Western, liberal democracies. That does not prevent them from maintaining active economic, political and cultural relations with states such as Russia, China, Turkey and the Gulf States. These non-Western actors are often considered to be an option to fill in certain “gaps” or to complement cooperation with Western partners when it comes to attracting foreign capital, increasing exports, securing infrastructure funding, etc. At the same time, this cooperation is seen as undermining certain core values required in the process of EU integration, such as democracy, rule of law, human rights and good governance.

Although all the Western Balkans (WB) countries established cooperation with China in the period prior to 1990 and maintained, for the most part, friendly relations before the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the fall of communism in Albania, increased Chinese engagement can be observed over the last decade. This coincides with a number of Chinese initiatives to increase its global presence, and especially the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013 and the cooperation platform between China and the Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries in 2012…

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