Tirana, Albania | 14 Feb 2019 (Tirana Echo) – Us Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned Central & Eastern European countries to resist increasing Russian and Chinese Meddling, as the US attempts to reassert its authority across the region.
Speaking to a group of diplomats in the Slovak capital of Bratislava, Pompeo warned that 30 years after the fall of the Berlin wall, Russia and China are again threatening the achievements made so far in terms of democratic and free market development by Central & Eastern European countries, including its southern part of the Balkans.
Announcing that the United States will boost its engagement across the region through defense agreements and other exchange projects, Pompeo said the US will assist post-communist countries to counter recent political and investment advances made by both China and Russia.
“Russia is not the only nation that seeks to erode sovereignty and freedom in Europe. You need to guard against China’s economic and other efforts to create dependence and manipulate your political system.” Pompeo said in Bratislava.
Pompeo, who is in Slovakia as part of a regional tour including Hungary and Poland, added that the United States may be forced to scale back certain operations in Europe and elsewhere if countries continue to do business with Chinese telecommunications company Huawei.
“The United States has strong concerns about Huawei’s motives in Europe, especially in NATO and European Union member states, as well as its business practices. We’re fine with companies competing, but they have got to do so in a way that’s fair and open and transparent, and they can’t do so with anything other than an economic motive.” Pompeo told his Bratislava audience.
Pompeo said nations would have to consider choosing between Huawei and the United States. The warning was broad but pointedly delivered first in Hungary, a NATO ally and European Union member, where Huawei is a major player.
Pompeo said the US plans to reverse a decade of disengagement across Central and Eastern Europe that has created a vacuum for Russia and China to exploit. Over the course of the past 10 years, he said, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leaders have become much more aggressive in the region and made inroads.
“I want to make sure that the Slovakian people understand that America is engaged, we’re back,” he said earlier at a ceremony at Slovakia’s “Gate of Freedom,” a memorial on the banks of the Morava River at the Slovakian border with Austria that commemorates the 400 people killed at the borders of the former Czechoslovakia while attempting to escape the Iron Curtain between 1945 and 1989.
US warnings come as China has slowly been advancing its relations with the region, particularly through its ‘One Belt, One Road’ program devised to revitalize the Silk Road and boost links with its former communist allies. In parallel, Russia has been investing in nationalist right wing political groups across several European nations, intending to divide the western alliance and hamper the project of the European Union.
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