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The Balkan Dialogue –2021. Day 2: Focusing on the economy and public diplomacy
The second day of the Balkan Dialogue – a regular research and educational program of the Gorchakov Fund – opened with a discussion about problems and prospects of Russia's bilateral relations with certain countries of the region. Experts from several Balkan countries spoke in detail about statistics of trade with Russia and potential influence of external factors on the state of economic cooperation.

Special emphasis was placed on importance of the Balkans for extraregional players. Thus, Dr. Yekaterina Entina, Professor and Deputy Vice Rector for Research at HSE University, Head of the Department of Black and Mediterranean Sea Region Studies at the Institute of Europe RAS, analyzed the strategy of China:

"China's arrival in Southeastern Europe has complicated geometry of relations in the region and relations between the extraregional players. Before China's active involvement in the Balkan space, it represented a zone of conditional intersection of interests of the West and historically contingent attention to the region from Turkey and Russia.

Beijing has its own, expanded understanding of the region and absence of attachment to the historical and sociocultural base gives China a freedom to maneuver. Active buildup of China's presence has become a surprise for the local elites, which resulted in polarization of assessments and opinions in regards to the goals of Beijing in the Balkans. However, the Balkans are destined to be an object of competition due to their geopolitical position, and specifically their transit opportunities attract the Chinese colleagues."

We would like to remind you that the Balkan Dialogue – 2021 was included into the list of official events of the Russia-Greece Cross Year of History, and special emphasis was placed on intensification of Russian-Greek cooperation. Dr. Anna Alexandrova, Senior Research Fellow and Scientific Secretary at the Department of Modern History of Central and Southeastern European Countries, told about economic ties between Russia and Greece in the present and in retrospective. According to her, in the beginning of the relations crisis between Russia and the European Union Greece was trying to be an intermediary in resolution of disagreements; however, after introduction of the anti-Russian sanctions the Russian-Greek cooperation ended up in another serious crisis. Now the Greek authorities are pursuing a friendly policy towards Moscow, which promotes development of trade connections.
 
The second half of the day focused on the Balkans from the point of view of the Russian public diplomacy and in the multipolar world. The experts remembered importance of presence of representatives from both countries during significant historical stages of each other's development  and strengthening of the ties between the nations. Agafangel Gkiurtzidis, historian, publisher, Executive Director of the Greek Studies Foundation, made a presentation about Russian monuments in Greece and Greek monuments in Russia. Dr. Nadezhda Pilko, Senior Research Fellow at the Department of History of Slavic Nations during World Wars RAS, presented a report on the Republic of Slovenia, Russian-Slovene relations and the foreign policy course of Slovenia, including bilateral relations with Russia.

Representative of Montenegro Igor Damjanovic, a correspondent of IN4S, told the attendees about what Russia had represented for Montenegro during the course of history. Dr. Nikita Bondarev, Associate Professor at the Department of International Relations of Russian State University for the Humanities, and Irina Yakimova, Research Fellow of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, also took part in the discussion.