During their meeting in Berlin (22 August), Foreign Minister Steinmeier expressed his respect to his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dačić for the “substantial progress” Serbia has made in “transforming state and society”, as well as “shaping good-neighbourly relations in the Western Balkans”. The road towards EU accession will also be the main focus of the forthcoming Western Balkans Conference, which is taking place in Berlin this week.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dačić, for talks at the Federal Foreign Office on Friday, 22 August.
Momentum for further normalisation with Kosovo
The German Foreign Minister commended “the substantial progress” Serbia has made in recent years in “transforming state and society”, as well as “shaping good-neighbourly relations in the Western Balkans”. He went on to say that the opening of accession negotiations with the EU in January also bore witness to this.
At the same time, Steinmeier urged the implementation of the normalisation agreement with Kosovo: “We hope that the political momentum will continue to be used”, stressed the German Foreign Minister. This, too, would “pave the way for further steps in the EU accession process”, stated Steinmeier.
Western Balkans Conference in Berlin
The two Foreign Ministers will meet again this week in Berlin: the Heads of Government as well as the Foreign and Economics Ministers of the six states in the Western Balkans, as well as Croatia and Slovenia, are coming to Berlin on 28 August at the invitation of the German Government.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, together with Foreign Minister Steinmeier and Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel is hosting the Conference on the Western Balkans. The European Union will be represented by Commission President Manuel Barroso.
OSCE Chairmanship in the light of the Ukraine conflict
As well as bilateral relations and Serbia’s move towards the EU, current international issues were also discussed.
In 2015, Serbia will assume the Chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Steinmeier emphasised the OSCE’s new role: he said that it now played a “key role” in the unfortunately “still unsuccessful attempts” to defuse the conflict in eastern Ukraine. He added that the importance of its task in Ukraine also showed how important the OSCE Chairmanship is.
In the light of the crisis in eastern Ukraine, Steinmeier spoke of “lasting changes” in relations between the European Union and Russia. He said that it would not be easy to achieve normalisation and he therefore called on everyone to rein in their expectations. Given these shifts, the German Foreign Minister now hopes that “crucial steps” towards a ceasefire will be taken.