The Balkan Silk Road - New Perspectives for the Western Balkans as China and the European Union connect in South Eastern Europe

A seminar of the Reflection Forum “The Western Balkans in the European Union”

Wednesday, 15 November 2017, 09h00-12h45 - Venue: Permanent Representation of Austria to the EU, Avenue de Cortenbergh 30, 1000 Brussels

The German Institute for International and Security Affairs – Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), the Austro-French Centre for Raprochement in Europe (ÖFZ/CFA), the Institut français des relations internationales (ifri), the Cooperation & Development Institute (cdi) and the Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE) kindly invite you to a jointly organised expert seminar on the Western Balkan development perspectives and the role of China. 

Through its 16+1 Framework and its multi-billion fund set up to finance large infrastructure projects and bilateral trade as well as the Belt and Road Initiative, China has entered the economic and political stage in South Eastern Europe. Although Chinese investments are often directed towards projects included in the EU’s Connectivity Agenda for the region, their modalities differ from EU standards and practices. However, for a region struggling to attract European and other foreign direct investments (FDI), these Chinese offers may represent an alternative to the EU’s development policy scheme.
Keeping this in mind, what are the geopolitical and geo-economic implications of China’s growing presence in the Western Balkans? How do they influence the Berlin Process for the Western Balkans? The seminar will reflect and discuss these issues and questions, bringing together experts from South Eastern Europe, China, Brussels and European Union institutions.
If you are interested in participating to this seminar, please send an email to until 13 November 2017. The debate will be held in English and under the Chatham House Rule*.


8:30 h Registration, Coffee and Kipferl

9:00 h Opening
• Alexander KMENTT, Ambassador, Permanent Representative to the Political and Security Committee, Permanent Representation of Austria to the European Union, Brussels
• Dominique DAVID, President, Austro-French Centre for Rapprochement in Europe and advisor to the President of the French Institute of International Relations (ifri), Paris

9:10 h Setting the scene – South Eastern Europe, China and the EU
• LIU Zuokui, Director, Department of Central and Eastern European Studies, Institute of European Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences; Director, Office of Secretariat of China - CEEC Think Tanks Network, Beijing
• Gudrun WACKER, Senior Fellow, Research Division Asia, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Berlin
• Nicolas CENDROWICZ, Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR), Deputy Head of Balkans Regional Cooperation, European Commission, Brussels

10:10 h Coffee and networking break

10:30 h Views from South-Eastern Europe: China’s engagement in the region 
• Jens BASTIAN, Independent Financial Sector Analyst & Economic Consultant, Athens
• Dragana MITROVIC, Professor of Political Sciences, University of Belgrade, Executive Director of the Centre of Asian and Far Eastern Studies, Belgrade
• Ardian HACKAJ, ShtetiWeb Director, Cooperation & Development Institute (CDI), Tirana
• Zoran NECHEV, European Union Insitute for Security Studies (EUISS), Paris and Center for EU Integration at the Institute for Democracy ‘Societas Civilis’, Skopje (tbc)
Moderation: Tobias FLESSENKEMPER, Senior Fellow and Project Balkans Project Director, Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE), Nice

11:30 h Break

11:45 h EU’s connectivity agenda and the Berlin Process: The impact of China’s engagement in South-Eastern Europe
• MEN Jing, Professor of European Union-China Relations; Director of the EU-China Research Centre, College of Europe, Bruges
• George TZOGOPOULOUS, Research Fellow, Hellenic Foundation for European & Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) and Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE), Athens and Nice
• Agatha KRATZ, Associate Fellow, European Council on Foreign Relations, London
Moderation: Dušan RELJIC, Head of Brussels Office, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), Brussels

12:45 h Conclusion of the seminar

Participation upon invitation only

SWP Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik - German Institute for International and Security Affairs

Brussels Office - Boulevard Saint-Michel 80 - B-1040 Brussels - Tel. 02 742 97 25

*As the Chatham House Rule applies, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed. As a matter of confidentiality, photographs, video or audio recordings as well as all kinds of activities on social media are not allowed during our meetings.


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