Under the shadow of the war in Ukraine
The visit is being held under the shadow of Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine. Through her visit, Foreign Minister Baerbock is sending a clear signal that Germany is aware of its responsibility for our European neighbourhood, and that it actively supports the countries of the Western Balkans in their efforts to become members of the European Union.
Foreign Minister Baerbock said:
The Russian attack on Ukraine marks a turning point – and unequivocally shows that Europe must be ready to invest strategically in its own long-term security. This is particularly relevant as regards our relations with the countries of the Western Balkans. Today’s peace in the Western Balkans is perhaps not perfect, but it is precious.
Many Western Balkan countries would have liked for the European Union and Germany to have shown them more support and given them greater attention in recent years. This is being exploited by actors who, instead of supporting a European future for these countries, often seek to fuel existing conflicts.
Foreign Minister Baerbock therefore emphasised the following:
I am traveling today to the Western Balkans, above all to listen to what the people there expect of us now – but also to demonstrate that we will not surrender this region in the heart of Europe to Moscow’s influence. In the past few days Europe has shown that it is capable of acting and that it is determined to counter the aggressive actions of the Russian President. Now we must show that we are ready to demonstrate the same spirit in our forward-looking involvement with the countries in the EU’s neighbourhood.
Stops in the Western Balkans
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Foreign Minister will, among other things, be holding political talks with the Foreign Minister and the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Minister will also have a discussion with High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Schmidt, as well as meet with representatives of the NGO Mothers of Srebrenica.
The Foreign Minister’s next stop will be in Kosovo. There, she will meet with the leadership of KFOR and with soldiers of the German contingent that is deployed as part of KFOR. On Friday morning, the Minister will inaugurate a wind farm that was built with German support and that is the largest single foreign investment in Kosovo to date.
After this, the Minister will travel on to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia.
Appointment of a Federal Government Special Representative for the Countries of the Western Balkans
The appointment of Manuel Sarrazin as the Federal Government Special Representative for the Countries of the Western Balkans underscores the special significance of the region for Germany and Europe:
We also want someone who stands for this political priority, the Western Balkans. I am delighted that Manuel Sarrazin has now been appointed to this key position. I know that he holds a special place in his heart for the Western Balkans and their European future. He will accompany me on this trip and will from now on intensify and nurture the direct contacts between the German Government and the countries and peoples of the region.
– Foreign Minister Baerbock
A neighbour of Ukraine: Moldova
As one of Ukraine’s neighbours, the Republic of Moldova is one of the countries worst affected by the consequences of the Russian war of aggression. Foreign Minister Baerbock therefore wants to gain a first-hand impression of the situation there. One of the aims of her visit is to identify how Germany can provide even more extensive support to the Government of Moldova in these exceptional circumstances.
With this in mind, Foreign Minister Baerbock also stated the following prior to her departure:
We will not permit the shockwaves set off by Russia to spread to more countries in Europe. Moldova can rely on the solidarity of Germany and Europe.