The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted the Balkan countries, not only on the region's already fragile socio-economic systems but also on their precarious geopolitical balance framed between Europe and the East. Although the EU remains the main partner and aid supplier of the Western Balkans during the pandemic, the last two years have proven integration in the region to lose momentum, leaving the field open to other superpowers such as China and Russia, as the so-called vaccine diplomacy has showed. Similarly, after a long geopolitical silence, the US has returned to the Balkans in an attempt to mediate a solution for Belgrade and Pristina, joining the ten-year long dialogue led by the EU. What interests are at stake in the region? Who is gambling in the Balkans?
The ISPI Report “The Pandemic in the Balkans: Geopolitics and Democracy at Stake” is available online on the ISPI website.