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EU says it won't pay off Montenegro's US$1 billion debt to China

THE European Union says it will not pay off Montenegro's US$1 billion debt to China, rejecting the tiny Balkan nation's repeated pleas for help, reports Hong Kong's South China Morning Post

14 April 2021 - 19:05
THE European Union says it will not pay off Montenegro's US$1 billion debt to China, rejecting the tiny Balkan nation's repeated pleas for help, reports Hong Kong's South China Morning Post.

A spokesman for the EU told the SCMP that it 'does not repay loans of partners which they took from third parties', although he did express concern 'over the socioeconomic and financial effects of some of China's investments in Montenegro'.



He continued that Brussels was willing to work with the country, a candidate for EU membership, to put its debts on a sustainable footing.



Montenegro had asked the EU for assistance with paying off a loan for an incomplete highway project that has imperiled the finances of the Balkan nation, reported London's Financial Times.



The incomplete road project, being built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, is part of a larger geopolitical battle for influence on the EU's periphery. How Brussels responds to the requests - and whether it will bail the country out unviable project, will shape the bloc's relationship with the tiny state.



'Montenegro is small enough that it should be an easy decision' for the EU to help refinance the loan, Milojko Spajic, Montenegro's finance minister, told the Financial Times in an interview. 'This is a small but easy win for them. It's low-hanging fruit,' he added.



Stefan Vladisavljev, foreign policy analyst for the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, a think-tank, said: 'This is the first time that Montenegro or any other country from the western Balkans has made this type of outreach towards Brussels to counter rising Chinese influence.


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