Dr. Valbona Zeneli

Dr. Valbona Zeneli

Valbona Zeneli is a professor of national security studies and the director of the Black Sea Eurasia Program at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies. The views presented are those of the author and do not necessarily represent views and opinions of the Department of Defense, the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, or the U.S. and German Governments.

F
or the last few months the western Balkans are back in the newspaper headlines. This is typically not good news. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini paid a four-day visit to the region at the beginning of March, which was followed by a reaffirmation (renewed promise) on March 9th of the EU members that the western Balkans states will eventually join the union.

The European integration of the Western Balkans seems to be stuck between declarative political promises and reality on the ground. There is general consensus, both within and outside the region, that the only realistic project for achieving sustainable stability and prosperity in the Balkans is integration with the European Union (EU). Today, the completion of the “European project” for the region is threatened by serious challenges.

During the course of Greek debt negotiations, debate has been dominated by the questions about the impact of this crisis on the Euro zone. Few discussions have focused on the potential economic and political ramifications the crisis may pose for countries in Southeast Europe (SEE).

Capital rich and ready to spend, China might be outplaying many Western rivals, even maybe Russia, in the Balkans. Chinese investments boost the influence, something already see in Africa. Is the Balkans next Chinese Africa – opportunities potent filed of contests with the west that loses its orientation, speed and grip?

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