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Competing powers, intersecting interests - Geopolitics and infrastructure development in the Balkans

Authors: Péter Reményi*, University of Pécs
Topics: Political Geography, East Europe, Europe
Keywords: geopolitics, infrastructure, Balkans, ethnonationalism
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The dissolution of Yugoslavia left several weak, unstable and competing states in Southeast Europe. The lucky few already joined the European Union, but decades after the political changes interethnic tensions, frozen conflicts, widespread corruption still haunt some of the states. In this environment some of the great and regional powers attempt to increase their influence and assert their interests by various means. One important way to do this is through infrastructure development in which China plays a prominent role as the Balkans is one of the last stops towards Europe on OBOR. This is nothing new if one looks solely on the relative underdevelopment of the states of the region, this is how it works in other parts of the world as well. In the Balkans, however not only China is present. The EU is also using vast amount of funds for infrastructure development as well as Russia in the energy sector and also Turkey worth to be mentioned. Another layer appears if attention is paid also on the competing interests of local groups in infrastructure development. In our paper we would like to draw the picture of competing geopolitical interests behind the externally financed infrastructure developments of the region, linking them to internal ethnonational conflicts and struggles of the various local groups.

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