“EUROPEAN Union officials are allowing China and Russia to gain strategic influence in Europe by failing smaller nations on the continent, the President of Macedonia has revealed.

President Ivanov warned the closed-off view of the bloc (EU), and its lack of investment in connecting the east and the west, was allowing the two dormant superpowers of Russia and China to stake their claim on Europe.

He said: ‘Now we arrive at the situation where we are using Chinese money and credits to build a European corridor transiting the territory of Macedonia.

‘This is the paradox. This is what I mean when I talk about Europe is withdrawing. It’s like a call to China.’

The President’s nation has been a candidate for membership since 2005, but has not yet been given a seat at the EU’s table after being repeatedly blocked by Greece over territorial disputes.

He added: ‘Bismarck once said that we whoever controls the valley of the River Vardar controls the connections between Europe and the Middle East. And whoever controls the connections between Europe and the Middle East, also control the connections between Europe and Asia.'” (Express.co.uk)