Vlora Rechica / 23 Jun 2023
Without credible external encouragement from the EU, the lack of trust in the vision of local politicians can play a significant role in weakening democracy in North Macedonia. The Western Balkans remains one of the most vulnerable targets in the ongoing battle for influence. The region is a central target of Russian influence, which intensified after the invasion of Ukraine last year. The region proves to be a fertile ground for political and societal influence, disinformation, and corrosive capital due to the various levels of state and media captivity, ethnic tensions within and between states, and the history of Russian cognitive bias.
Russia uses disinformation campaigns and illicit financing as powerful weapons to undermine the democratic institutions of the Western Balkans. These tools also facilitate China and other authoritarian countries in expanding their influence.
The article was written as part of the project "The Western Balkans at the Crossroads: Democratic Backsliding and External Actors’ Influence" led by the Prague Security Studies Institute, sponsored by National Endowment for Democracy (NED). For more information, visit: www.balkancrossroads.com.