Minister of State Michael Roth reaffirmed the perspective for countries of the Western Balkans to accede to the EU: “Stability and democratic development in the Western Balkans are in the interest of Germany and Europe and are of major importance for our security,” as Roth outlined. The Minister of State travelled to London on Monday (9 July) to attend the Foreign Ministers Meeting of this year’s Western Balkans Summit.
No progress without reconciliation
Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia have developed rapidly since the 1990s. In many fields however, the countries have a long way to go to meet EU standards. One reason is the impact of the wars after the collapse of Yugoslavia. Relations between the Balkans states are still overshadowed by the trauma of these wars. The ongoing tensions are also hampering the region’s economic development.
Promoting exchange, creating connections
This is what Germany is working on together with its EU partners: so the region can move forward with reconciliation and cooperation, they are promoting exchange – both through economic and infrastructure projects as well as by founding a Regional Youth Cooperation Office of the Western Balkans. “Here we want to promote reconciliation for future generations in a region in which the scars of war are still very present,” as Minister of State Roth outlined.
Step by step towards the EU
The historic agreement struck recently between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to resolve the dispute regarding the latter’s name showed that major differences can be bridged with the help of mutual trust. Reconciliation in the Western Balkans is a prerequisite if the countries are one day to become members of the European Union. As they make this journey, Germany is following the two-fold principle of supporting and demanding. The Federal Government is supporting many programmes in the countries so they can move forward with their economic and political development. At the same time, Germany is in favour of carefully examining whether the reforms necessary on the journey towards the EU are being performed in their entirety.