Foreign Minister Maas met his counterpart from Kosovo Behgjet Pacolli in Berlin on Thursday (10 January). Following their talks, Maas stated, “We call upon Kosovo and Serbia to return to constructive dialogue”. The Foreign Minister said that one of the most important conditions for moving towards the EU was for the two countries to cultivate normal relations with each other.
Relations with Serbia in focus
Relations between Kosovo and Serbia have recently experienced setbacks. Serbia actively opposed its neighbouring country’s bid for membership of Interpol, while Kosovo has imposed 100 percent import tariffs on Serbian products. Following the meeting with Pacolli, Maas stressed: “We also talked about the fact that here in Germany we definitely have reservations about the use of punitive tariffs.”
Germany supports the EU perspective
At the same time, the Foreign Minister emphasised Germany’s support for the ambitions of Kosovo and its neighbours to join the EU. “We are committed to making the prospect of EU membership achievable for the countries of the Western Balkans,” Maas said. However, that support is subject to specific conditions. The most important conditions for Kosovo include, for example, progress in the fight against organised crime and corruption.
Help with reform and reconciliation
Kosovo, like most of the other Western Balkan states, is still a good way away from compliance with EU standards. Germany is therefore providing active support. In this context, the Federal Government is not only promoting projects to boost economic growth and improve infrastructure, but is also placing a particular focus on a genuine reconciliation process in the region. For example, Germany, together with its EU partners, is financing a separate Youth Office for the Western Balkan region with the aim of bringing together young people across borders.