Launch of a New Project Focusing on Western Balkans


A kick-off workshop took place in Belgrade on January 27-28, 2020, to launch a new project titled “Western Balkans at the Crossroads: Ways Forward in Analyzing External Actors’ Influence.” This is a follow-up project that aims to build upon a knowledge base established during the first phase of the Western Balkans at the Crossroads project, which mapped, analyzed and publicized Russian, Chinese, Turkish and Gulf State influence activities in the region.

This time the project team of 10 Balkan-based researchers supervised by professor Ioannis Armakolas and coordinated by the PSSI team will produce 15 analytical studies on phenomena related to external actors’ engagements, 15 journalistic articles disseminating the major findings and a reflection paper on the ways forward in analyzing external influence. It will focus on in-depth socially rooted research and investigative journalism going beyond conventional analytical frameworks and overcoming ideologically constructed stereotypes while combining a variety of approaches. The research topics deal with issues of geopolitics and fading democracy, governance, policy-making and business as well as illiberal leverage in the Western Balkan societies.

The first day of the workshop addressed the possible ways, ethical considerations and best practices of conducting research on foreign influences in the region. Moreover, individual research proposals of the project members were presented and discussed. The next day started off with a workshop instigating lively discussion on external actors’ engagements and local vulnerabilities in the Western Balkans, which showed the diversity of the experts' views. The two-day-workshop was closed by an interactive journalist training as the dissemination of knowledge is a key element of our work. 

For more information visit the official website of the project.

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