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Malign Foreign Influence in the Western Balkans: The EVC Review 2020

Welcome to the European Values Center for Security Policy’s 2020 Review of malign foreign influence in the Western Balkans. This will be the first of an annual series serving the greater transatlantic foreign policy community as it highlights various interventions – political, economic, and military – undertaken in the Western Balkans by authoritarian states and related anti-democratic actors.

Russia, China, and other authoritarian governments seek to project their illiberal agendas in the Western Balkans through various avenues via multiple vectors; more than a summary review based on open sources can provide. Accordingly, the purpose of this Review is to afford a broad perspective of significant developments arising primarily from Russian and Chinese governments’ designs to prevent the consolidation of genuinely democratic institutions throughout the region.

This Review’s contents are chiefly the result of on-going research undertaken by civil society organizations based in the Western Balkans and working in partnership with the European Values Center (EVC) under a grant generously provided by the National Endowment for Democracy. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Zashto Ne?, Montenegro’s Center for Democratic Transition, and North Macedonia’s Most Citizen’s Association contributed regularly to Balkans Watch Briefing, EVC’s monthly electronic bulletin reporting largely on foreign-backed disinformation efforts in their respective countries. Review analysis of authoritarians’ progress in Serbia are based on open source research and interviews undertaken by EVC’s Senior Analyst for the Western Balkans. And, finally, special recognition and gratitude to our noted partners in Montenegro, North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hungary.