Bigger carrot and bigger stick will fix Balkans - FT

The Western Balkans Summit in London this week achieved little in advancing the region's EU prospects, the Financial Times writes.

Source: Beta
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(Getty Images, file, illustration purposes)
(Getty Images, file, illustration purposes)

And this is true despite the gathering "delivering warm words and worthy initiatives," said an opinion piece entitled, "EU’s waning influence opens a dangerous vacuum in the Balkans," cited on Thursday by Beta agency.

According to the article, the EU should "increase the size of its carrot, and its stick" to prevent China and Russia from filing the said vacuum - which could result in "a historic opportunity to stabilize the Balkans being lost, with potentially tragic consequences."

On one hand, the article states, "Western Balkans nations are losing faith that the EU’s doors will ever open to them," and on the other, the EU is "frustrated with Balkan states’ slow progress in tackling corruption and organized crime."

"Democratic backsliding by Hungary and Poland, and erosion of rule of law in Romania, make them wary of admitting more members from the former eastern bloc," the FT writes.

Meanwhile, according to this, "China is using its economic clout to woo former communist Europe with lavished pledges of investment. The recent China-Western Balkan summit in Bulgaria is mentioned in this context.

However Russia -"despite cultural and religious ties with parts of the region" - is relying "more on mischief-making."

"Montenegro accuses Moscow of attempting a coup there in 2016 to thwart the ex-Yugoslav republic’s ambition to join NATO. Greece this week expelled two Russian diplomats for allegedly trying to undermine Athens’ name agreement with Macedonia," the article said.

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