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The Kremlin employs a multifaceted strategy aimed at undermining democratic institutions and expanding its geopolitical influence in Europe and on the Balkans. This strategy is executed through a combination of strategic corruption, politicization of civil security institutions, and cognitive capture, all of which exploit and exacerbate existing vulnerabilities within the region. China’s “no limits" global support for Kremlin’s belligerent agenda against liberal democracies has been particularly toxic on the Balkans. Through significant infrastructure projects and promises of economic cooperation, China has tried to convince countries in the region there is a viable illiberal or authoritarian model of development alternative to Western liberal democracy. These tactics destabilize the political landscape and weaken the societal trust in democratic processes and European integration. 

The discussion explored the deepening reach of Moscow and Beijing across the Balkans and seek out strategies to enhance the effectiveness of democracies in the Western Balkans. During the expert discussion, CSD presented its latest regional analysis of the ongoing Russian and Chinese efforts for leveraging economic dependencies and exerting control over media narratives to disrupt and capture democratic reforms in the civil security sector in the region, thus shifting public opinion against further European integration.

Public discussion "Safeguarding the Foundations: Enhancing the Effectiveness of Democracies in the Western Balkans", 13 June 2024, Ramada by Wyndham Podgorica, Montenegro.
Mariyan Sabev, Director of Communications and Senior Security Analyst, CSD.
Amb. Stefan Dimitrov, Embassy of Bulgaria in Podgorica.
(L-R) Mariyan Sabev, Director of Communications, CSD; Milica Kovačević, Programme Director, Center for Democratic Transition; Jelena Jovanović, Executive Editor, Center for Democratic Transition; Milovan Papić, CEO, Politbiro.

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