2nd Online Debate: What is ‘malign’ about external influence in the Western Balkans?


15 Mar 2021, 17:00 CET


2nd Online Debate of the "Western Balkans at Crossroads" project titled “What is ‘malign’ about external influence in the Western Balkans? Unpacking the role of non-Western powers" will address the following questions:

Russian, Chinese and Turkish activities in the Western Balkans have recently become predominantly labelled as ‘malign’ in Western expert and policymaking circles. Yet viewing the non-Western actors’ presence as inherently harmful and malign simplifies a complex reality and does not bring the understanding necessary for increasing the resilience of Western Balkan societies to real risks involved and for the drafting of EU or US responses. The debate thus aims to unpack the issue of the harmfulness of Russian, Chinese and Turkish activities, asking the following questions: To which extent, where and how does their presence cause negative impacts? What specifically makes it malign - does it rest in these actors’ strategy and intentions or rather in their conduct and interaction with local ruling elites? Does their approach differ from that of Western countries, and in what ways? To what extent is foreign non-Western influence harmful to the countries’ long-term goal of joining the EU? What role do non-state actors play and how can it be conceptualized?

Moderator: Ioannis Armakolas, Head of the Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) and Assistant Professor in Comparative Politics of South East Europe at the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia


  • Anastas Vangeli, Research Fellow at the EU*Asia Institute at the ESSCA School of Management, and an Adjunct Professor at ESSCA's Shanghai Campus.

  • Srećko Latal, Regional Editor at the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network

  • Gentiola Madhi, Researcher and Political Analyst


To register, please, follow this link.

You can download the debates' program here.