Europe fears "China's Trojan horses in Balkans"
EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn has warned about China's role in the Western Balkans.Source: Beta
The EU official in charge of neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations "warned that Beijing could turn countries in the region into Trojan horses that would one day be European Union members," the website Politico is reporting.
Hahn told Politico that "China’s combination of capitalism and a political dictatorship" could appeal to some leaders in the region.
"Although much Western concern about the Balkans in recent years has focused on the role of Russia, Hahn said there is more reason to be uneasy about China, which has made a series of significant investments in infrastructure projects there," the article said.
As an example of such a project, he mentioned a highway built in Montenegro.
"This is exactly the case with this famous highway in Montenegro. And also this is a kind of pattern, or let'’s say business model, by the Chinese to offer attractive or more or less attractive loans and if you cannot serve them, it's turned into capital," Hahn said.
The article said that the EU "suggested" Serbia and Montenegro could become EU members by 2025, but that Hahn thinks that timeline is "rather ambitious."
And while all Western Balkan countries wish to join the EU, the organization's members are said to be "divided over how to handle those aspirations" - with French President Emmanuel Macron "emerging as the leading skeptical voice."