Spheres of Influence Uncovered

Posted on
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan
October 2022 – December 2025


This project aims to contribute to a better understanding of the roles that three key international players – the EU, Russia and China – have on the seven project countries’ economies. In the course of this, journalists from the seven countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, Georgia, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan – will map Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), coming from these three players and identify the main challenges and consequences for their countries. They will also produce investigative country-based and cross-border reports while their skills will be upgraded with a series of capacity-building activities.


At the core of the project is the struggle for spheres of influence on the Eurasian continent, which has been going on between Russia, China and the EU for around a decade. Among other things, the project aims to identify Russian, Chinese and EU economic activities in these two broad regions, expose their consequences and downsides and inform the general public about its findings.

Political, economic and cultural ties with Russia, “inherited” from the Cold War, are still operative to varying degrees in these countries. However, the binding and integrating power of an economically weak, revisionist Russia, which relies above all on military strength, is clearly declining – and even driving away some former partners (Georgia).

The EU meanwhile is struggling to maintain its attractiveness because the demands that Brussels places on recipients of its financial support are high and often involve lengthy reform and adjustment processes that often cause frustration and disappointment among partners (Western Balkans, Georgia).

The main beneficiary of this frustration is China. By offering to finance large investments in long-awaited infrastructure projects, quickly and easily, it has found a willing audience in all the project countries. Although capital from China entails considerable risks and disadvantages for the recipient countries, the potential ecological, social and political consequences of cooperation with China in the recipient countries is barely publicly discussed.


German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

Main objectives:

 Objective 1: Strengthen the capacities of independent and public media in the project countries, as they are the main pillars of a critical public discourse on the effects of economic cooperation with China, Russia and the EU.

Objective 2: Increase skills and strengthen the capacities of independent and public media in the project countries to continuously inform a broad public with high-quality reporting about the background and consequences of international economic cooperation.

Objective 3: Increase the capacities of participating journalists to join cross-border projects and engage in data journalism.

Objective 4: Advance the reporting and publishing of complex investigative stories achieved through interesting and understandable preparation and a strategic public relations campaigns with a wide audience.

Objective 5: Increase the capacities of the participating journalists to become parts of international networks whose members support each other in researching and analysing global economic relationships.

Main Activities:

  • Hold several meetings and trainings throughout the project duration (in Tbilisi, Belgrade, Tashkent, Podgorica, and Sarajevo).
  • Organise and conduct online capacity-building workshops and sessions.
  • Work on a database and an interactive map to present the spread of FDIs in the project countries.
  • Produce country-based and cross-border long reads and investigative reports.
  • Develop curricula for self-study.

Target Groups:

  • The direct target group includes 25 journalists from the seven project countries who deal with questions of international economic cooperation either as freelancers or as permanent employees.
  • The indirect target group consists of two subgroups:
  • group of experts from diverse Non-Governmental Organizations (around 150 people involved in the project through trainings, researches and publications)
  • general audience in the participating countries.

Main implementer:




Anhor.uz, Uzbekistan

JAM News, Georgia