Ursula von der Leyen’s recent trip to the Western Balkans indicates that Brussels still struggles to win hearts and minds in this part of Europe. Especially in Serbia public opinion perceives Moscow and Beijing as true friends. Western media often refer to the region as a bastion of Russian and Chinese presence.
Is there a correlation between perceptions and realities on the ground? Is Chinese and Russian influence/presence overestimated or underestimated?
The panel addresses these topics from different angles: public perceptions, media coverage, economic investments, and political presence.
Welcome Greetings and Introduction
Daniela Kraus, General Secretary, Presseclub Concordia
Ivan Vejvoda, Head of Europe’s Futures – Ideas for Action (IWM)
Russia and China in the Western Balkans: an Overview
Dimitar Bechev, Bulgarian political scientist, author of the book Rival Power: Russia in Southeast Europe. Lecturer at Oxford University. Europe’s Futures alumnus (via video link).
Russia’s and China’s presence in the Western Balkans: Perceptions vs Realities
Panel Conversation followed by Q&A
Russia and China: Public Perceptions
Srdjan Bogosavljević, public opinion expert, founder of Ipsos Strategic Marketing
Russia and China: Media Influence and Presence
Saša Mirković, journalist, media manager, former State Secretary, university lecturer.
Russia and China: Economic Presence
Milica Uvalić, economist, specialised in the Western Balkans,
Visiting Fellow, European University Institute, Florence.
Russia and China: Political Presence and Security Considerations
Valbona Zeneli, security expert, Atlantic Council. Europe`s Futures Alumna.