British report about Balkans: Russians, Chinese, Turks...

Outside actors such as Russia, China and Turkey have filled a void created by EU neglect of the Western Balkans over the past decade.

Source: B92
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(Thinkstock)
(Thinkstock)

This is stated in the UK parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee report, which adds that many of the witnesses it heard "suggested that, by contrast, Russian influence in the region is weak, not least because its economic presence is limited."

"Despite this, Russia is capable of exploiting the region’s problems and undermining its progress towards peace, prosperity and, ultimately, EU and NATO membership," the report said, and added:

"Indeed, the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) told us that one of the biggest threats facing the region is 'Russia’s increased interference in the Western Balkans, as seen in the attempted coup plot in Montenegro in October 2016', which it describes as 'a brazen example of Russia’s risk-appetite and willingness to attempt disruption'. The FCO also highlighted Russia’s support for the 'destabilizing activities of political leaders in the Republika Srpska (Serb Republic)' in Bosnia-Herzegovina and cited media reports in early 2018 that local police were purchasing 'long-barreled weapons' from Russia, fueling fears of Russia’s ability to destabilize the fragile peace settlement in Bosnia-Herzegovina."

"The Russians, as they do in other places, are very good at making a bad situation worse. That is one of their great skills. This is a place where there are quite a lot of bad situations, and they work on them," Robert Cooper, a former EU diplomat, is quoted as telling the committee.

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