Endy Zemenides, executive director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), expressed concern over reports that the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is reconsidering its commitment to Southeast Europe, including closing down its office for the Aegean & Western Balkans in Belgrade, Serbia.
In a letter to DFC CEO David Marchick, Zemenides said that before the DFC was established, US interests “suffered serious setbacks in the region,” with China and Russia investing in regional ports, railroads, and energy infrastructure.
“Many countries in the region emerged from economic crises only to be hit hard again by COVID. The DFC can encourage projects that will help these countries resist the temptation of cheap Russian gas,” he says in the letter.
The DFC’s assistance to promote American investment in Greece’s ports and shipyards – like Alexandroupoli and Elefsis – have ensured that critical and strategic infrastructure “remains free of malign influences.”
“It also sent a clear signal that the US will not cede the playing field in the Western Balkans and Aegean to Russia or China,” he continues.
“This is not the time to create confusion with regards to the US’s commitment to the region. Russian and China will be the only beneficiaries of a reduced DFC presence,” he said, adding that he is eager to hear the DFC’s new leadership make “a public commitment” to continued support to the Aegean and Western Balkans.