Democracy For Sale? Chinese Investment in the Western Balkans

9.29.2020, 10:00AM to 11:00AM



Please join the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and its partner organizations the Center for Civic Initiatives (CCI) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Center for Contemporary Politics (CCP) in Serbia, the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT) in Montenegro and the Institute for Democracy Societas Civilis Skopje (IDSCS) in North Macedonia for a discussion on the impact of Chinese investment in the Western Balkans. As part of CIPE’s larger corrosive capital initiative these organizations have examined four significant Chinese investments in the Western Balkans: Copper mining in Serbia, Highway construction in North Macedonia and Montenegro and Huawei IT infrastructure in Bosnia and Herzegovina. From their research, the partners will present on overall Chinese investment trends in the Western Balkans and gaps in the governance of investment in their countries. This event will include introductory remarks from CIPE’s Executive Director Andrew Wilson. CIPE is one of the core institutes of the US National Endowment for Democracy and a US Chamber of Commerce affiliate.


Andrew Wilson is the Executive Director of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) in Washington, D.C. Mr. Wilson has extensive experience working with the private sector on development issues in conflict/post-conflict settings, crafting successful business strategies to reduce corruption, encouraging entrepreneurship development, strengthening business advocacy, improving corporate governance standards and promoting economic reform. He is called on frequently to speak about linkages between democracy and business as well as the challenges to growth in emerging markets, including corruption and the threat of corrosive capital. Mr. Wilson received his MA in East European Area Studies from the University of London (SSEES) and a BA in History from Lewis and Clark College.

Martina Hrvolova manages the Europe Program at the Center for International Private Enterprise in Washington, DC. She previously served as a human rights expert for the Slovak Foreign Service beginning in 2005, where she was appointed Executive Secretary of the Slovak Chairmanship of the Council of Europe in 2007. Between 2010 and 2015, she was posted to the Slovak Missions to NATO and EU in Brussels, Belgium advising on public affairs, NATO Partnerships, EU Enlargement and the Western Balkans. She is passionate about the time she spends volunteering, previously with the OSCE election observation missions in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. She has earned her Masters of Law degrees in International and Comparative studies from the George Washington University Law School in Washington, DC and her PhD. in European Civil Law from the Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. In December 2019, Ms. Hrvolova testified on Russia’s economic footprint in the Western Balkans on Capitol Hill.

Steve Mehringer is a leader in the digital transformation of communications for international institutions, governments and senior world leaders. He has proven expertise in creating strategies, infrastructure and content to amplify communications for global audiences. From 2010-2019, he was Head of Communications for the NATO Public Diplomacy Division in Brussels. He is recognized for transforming the Alliance into a leader of digital communications among international organizations. Prior to joining NATO, he served 3.5 years with the Department of State at the U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq as Director of Broadcast Operations. He played a critical role in developing the embassy’s outreach capacity and twice received the Department of State Meritorious Honor Award. He was also recognized for working to rebuild the Iraqi Boy Scouts and Girl Guides program. Before shifting to government communications, he spent 15 years as a journalist and producer in TV news.

Igor Novakovic is Research Director at the International and Security Affairs Centre (ISAC) in Belgrade, Serbia. Igor’s areas of interest include international relations and security, especially around the Euro-Atlantic integration and regional cooperation in the Western Balkans. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Belgrade. Since 2017 he has collaborated with CIPE to analyze the effects of corrosive capital on the Serbian economy, most recently concerning the country’s state aid in support of foreign investment.

Milica Kovacevic is President of the Center for Democratic Transition’s Managing Board in Montenegro and coordinator of the organization’s EU and NATO integration programs. Her areas of expertise include elections, political finance, parliamentary development, political/security integration, public integrity and anticorruption. As a trainer she worked with a number of civil society organizations in the Western Balkans, Eurasia and the Middle East and helped them in the planning of civil actions and campaigns. She coordinates the work of the Info Center on Euro-Atlantic Integration in Podgorica.

Zoran Nechev, PhD candidate in Institute for European Studies at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, specializes in EU-Western Balkans relations, external dimensions of justice, home affairs and external (malign) influences. He heads the Center for EU integration of the Institute for Democracy ‘Societas Civilis’, a think tank organization from North Macedonia. He is a member of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG). He was also an academic guest at the Center for International and Comparative Studies at ETH Zürich, examining the effects of EU’s conditionality policy on rule of law in the Western Balkans. As a former Senior Associate Fellow at the EU Institute for Security Studies he was involved in activities related to the ‘EU Global Strategy’, resilience and Balkan futures.

Dario Jovanovic is a Project Manager of the Centers for Civic Initiatives (CCI), one of the leading and the most influential civil society organizations (CSOs) in BiH. He also serves as the Project Manager of the “Pod lupom – Coalition for Free and Fair Elections” that gathers six CSOs from all around BiH. He worked on campaigns and projects for CSOs in the fields of elections, public finances, party financing, state-owned enterprises, investments, anticorruption, networking, media monitoring and sustainability. He is a member of the General Assembly of European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO), member of the Youth Council of the US Embassy in BiH, Ambassador at One Young World, Peace Ambassador of the European Commission, EUVP Alumni, Alumni of the Political School of the Council of Europe and member of the international think-tank “East-West Bridge” in BiH. He graduated with a Bachelor degree in Business Administration in International Finance and Banking from the State University of New York and an MBA from Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK.

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