German Foreign Minister Annalena Bärbock called on the countries of the Western Balkans to join efforts to join the European Union. In order for accession to the EU to be successful, everyone must “roll up their sleeves,” Baerbock said before traveling to Tirana, where she will take part in a meeting of Western Balkan foreign ministers as part of the Berlin Process.
“The countries of the Western Balkans have been waiting too long for their place at the European Union table. Especially for young people in the region, it is clear that their future lies in the EU.
If Europe does not join them, they will find their way into Europe – with fatal demographic consequences for their countries,” said Burbock. “For EU accession to be successful, everyone must now roll up their sleeves. The European Union must keep its word, and the countries of the Western Balkans must initiate the necessary reforms,” stated the head of the German Foreign Ministry.
However, she noted that many countries have already achieved significant progress. “But again and again we see regression, new obstacles that need to be overcome on the path to the EU,” Burbock emphasized. As examples, she mentioned the growing tension between Serbia and the unrecognized Kosovo and the situation around Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska (entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina).
“This tension is holding the entire region hostage. It prevents important steps towards reconciliation. It is poison for investment and hinders the region’s progress towards European integration,” said the head of the German Foreign Ministry.
The Berlin process, she said, makes an important contribution to achieving concrete improvements for the people of the region.
The Berlin Process, a mechanism to support the European integration of the Western Balkan states, was initiated in 2014 by Angela Merkel, who was then Chancellor of Germany.
The process aims to support integration with the EU of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro and unrecognized Kosovo. In the fall of 2018, the then head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said that, in his opinion, Serbia and Montenegro would join the European Union by 2025.