Federal Minister Steinmeier: Stability on the Balkans is the number one priority

17.02.2008 - Press release

The Assembly of Kosovo declared the province's independence on 17 February 2008. This comes at the end of the former Yugoslavia's process of disintegration which began in the 1990s. The declaration was preceded by lengthy rounds of negotiations chaired by the UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari and later by the Kosovo Troika; these did not, unfortunately, result in a solution acceptable to the Kosovo Albanians and Serbs.

Given recent developments, Federal Foreign Minister Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier made several phone calls today including to the Slovene Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel and the Serb Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremič. The ministers agreed that maintaining stability in the region is the number one priority. Federal Minister Steinmeier emphasized that this would require all those involved to remain calm and show moderation in the coming days. The foreign ministers were clear in rejecting any form of violence, underlining that the Balkans had experienced enough violence in the past and that this was not a solution to the questions and challenges to be dealt with.

On Monday (18 February) the foreign ministers of the European Union will discuss how to approach the new situation. Federal Minister Steinmeier underscored that it was crucial now to maintain European unity.

In recent weeks and months, the European Union made clear that it is ready to take on responsibility for stabilization in the Western Balkans. Key elements here include the active process to draw the countries of the Western Balkans closer to the EU and the EULEX rule of law mission in Kosovo launched at the end of last week.

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