EU refuses to help Montenegro repay its $ 1 billion loan to China

The European Commission said in Brussels on April 12 that it would not help Montenegro pay off € 1 billion. loan To China for the unfinished first phase of the Bar-Boljare highway. Montenegro is Europe’s first country to fall into a debt trap set by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of the Chinese administration.

China’s BRI (also referred to as a “zone Ichiro”) is a grand foreign policy project of the start of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping in 2013. It aims to extend the economic and political influence of China’s communist regime to countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. Ancient Chinese Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road for 21st Century Trade. BRI has invested Chinese capital in the construction of various high-cost infrastructure projects in more than 60 participating countries.

However, the BRI has been accused by the international community of setting debt traps in poor countries that have accepted China’s loans, exacerbating the debt crisis and exposing it to China’s influence.

“The EU is already the largest investor and largest financial supporter to Montenegro, the largest trading partner …. We continue to support them, but the loans they receive from third parties. “We have not repaid,” European Union foreign policy spokesman Peter Stano said at a press conference on April 12.

“The EU is concerned about the socio-economic and financial implications of some of China’s investment. There is a risk of macroeconomic imbalances and debt dependence,” Stano added. ..

Montenegro’s Minister of Finance and Social Welfare Milojko Spajić said on April 15 that the government will negotiate with the European Union to repay a $ 1 billion loan from China for the unfinished first phase of the Bar-Boljare highway. Announced.

In 2014, contrary to EU advice, Montenegro received a € 1 billion loan under the BRI to build a highway connecting Bar Port on the Adriatic coast of Montenegro with neighboring Serbia. .. Loans make up 25 percent of the country’s total debt, according to report By Politico.

In 2018, highway loans began to impact Montenegro’s economy.The country’s debt has increased significantly, the government has been forced to raise taxes, partially frozen public sector wages, and ended the interests of mothers and Reuters. report..

Montenegro occupies a strategic position on the Balkan Peninsula and is an important access point for China to reach Central Europe and beyond. The small West Balkan Republic is a candidate for EU accession. If Montenegro becomes an EU member state, close economic and political ties could prove valuable to China.

Center for Global Development, a policy research institute of the US government caveat About the impact of the report on BRI’s debt. Montenegro has been identified as one of eight high-risk countries that “may suffer debt suffering from future BRI-related financing.” Other countries are Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Maldives, Mongolia, Pakistan and Tajikistan.