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What China’s “Belt And Road Initiative” Means For The Western Balkans

What China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” means for the Western Balkans

Brussels, Belgium, September 11, 2017 – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has commissioned an independent report on the development of the Balkan Silk Road. China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, is a Eurasian grand strategy that seeks to expand and secure maritime routes and land infrastructure networks from China connecting Asia, Africa and Europe. Also known
as ‘One Belt, One Road’, it presents a range of opportunities as well as challenges for the countries involved. The blueprint includes a mosaic of trade deals, energy cooperation and financing agreements taking China westwards. The aim is to establish China’s political economy on a global scale. Seen from a European perspective, Chinese forms of soft power are already on display along what has come to be known as the Balkan Silk Road, a Belt and Road Initiative route running from Beijing to Athens and connecting with Belgrade, Sarajevo, Skopje, Budapest, Tirana and other capitals. This south-east European region has been at the heart of the EBRD’s activities for the past quarter-century. The EBRD is already engaging with Chinese companies and authorities along the Balkan Silk Road, as tenders now being awarded focus minds on the need to carefully weigh up the opportunities and challenges brought by the emergence of a major new player in the region. As part of this process, the EBRD has commissioned an independent report on the development of the Balkan Silk Road. Written by Jens Bastian, former chief economist of the European Agency for Reconstruction and member of the EU Task Force for Greece, and funded from the Central European Initiative, the report will be launched on Thursday, 14 September at the Office of the European Parliament in Athens in an event organised by the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP). Source: EBRD  

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