The democratic and governance backsliding in Central and Eastern Europe have provided opportunities for the expansion of foreign malign influence. Russia and China have been successful in tapping into local oligarchic networks and media channels to achieve political leverage. These are some of the conclusions from a closed expert discussion, Vulnerability Index: Assessing Foreign Impact in Central and Eastern Europe. Findings and Recommendations for Bulgaria, organized by the Center for the Study of Democracy on December 9, 2021.
During the webinar, CSD presented the key findings from the pilot Vulnerability Index 2021, developed in partnership with the Slovak think tank, GLOBSEC, as well as the key policy takeaways for Bulgaria summarized in a White Paper on the Vulnerability to Foreign Influence in Bulgaria. The study explores the main factors and mechanisms of foreign influence expansion in critical sectors of the economy, media and civil society.
Key recommendations for U.S., EU and national policy-makers were outlined and discussed with the participants in the discussion for addressing the governance gaps that have facilitated the expansion of foreign political and economic influence from authoritarian states.