To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the amount of Russian investment in the countries of the Western Balkans which are candidates, or potential candidates, for membership of the European Union.
22 July 2014
It is impossible to provide a definitive assessment of the amount of Russian investment in the Western Balkans. There are varying levels of investment across the region, with a strong emphasis on the energy sector.
Figures from the Serbia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SIEPA) show that Russia was the seventh largest foreign direct investor in Serbia in the period 2001-13. The majority of that investment is in the energy sector. In 2013 87 per cent of Serbia’s gas needs were supplied by Russia. Gazprom owns 56 per cent of the Serbian oil company Petroleum Industry of Serbia (NIS). It is investing a reported $2.1 billion in the building of South Stream. Other energy companies, such as LUKOIL, are active. There has also been Russian investment in the railway and banking sectors.
In the first nine months of 2013, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) attracted €95 million of Russian investment, which was 46 per cent of total foreign investment. To date the biggest Russian investment in BiH has been in the privatisation and modernisation of the petrol industry in Republika Srpska (RS) and the acquisition of Austria’s Volksbank by Sberbank. Other projects of Russian interest are: a coal mine and thermo-power station complex at Uglejevik; a branch pipeline connection to South Stream (into Serbia), which provides mains gas supply to 47 towns in Republika Srpska; and a hydro power plant at Dabar, with a proposal for two further small hydro plants.
Macedonian industry is dependent on Russian gas and Skopje expects to be included in the South Stream project.
The bilateral relationship between Albania and Russia is modest. Albania does not import oil or gas directly from Russia, although Russian companies are among those looking to invest in the renewal of the Albanian energy sector. Albanian exports to Russia are minimal – in 2012 they represented only 0.45 per cent of the country’s total exports.
Montenegro’s bilateral trade with Russia is also small. In 2012-13, 43 per cent of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) came from EU countries, with Russian FDI amounting to 14 per cent. However levels of Russian tourism are still substantial, with a 28 per cent share of a sector which represents 30 per cent of the economy.