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Fostering reconciliation and reform – Foreign Minister Gabriel visits Serbia and Kosovo 

Government aircraft A319 prior to take-off for Belgrade

Government aircraft A319 prior to take-off for Belgrade, © Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

14.02.2018 - Article

Serbia and Kosovo continue to face significant challenges on their path to EU accession. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel wants to strengthen forces for reform in the two Balkan countries.

Foreign Minister Gabriel is travelling to Serbia and Kosovo on Wednesday (14 February). The European Commission reiterated its support last week for the Western Balkan countries joining the EU in the future. In travelling to Belgrade and Pristina, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel is showing Germany’s support for the two countries on their path to EU membership. At the same time, Gabriel is taking a clear message with him, namely that Serbia and Kosovo will only be able to join the EU if they implement the necessary reforms effectively.

A clear message
Foreign Minister Gabriel is travelling to Serbia and Kosovo
Foreign Minister Gabriel is travelling to Serbia and Kosovo© Florian Gaertner/photothek.net

In his talks with political leaders in Belgrade and Pristina, Gabriel will thus spell out the areas in which Germany expects the two countries to make particular progress. Change is especially important as regards the rule of law, fundamental rights and good governance. Corruption and organised crime must be vigorously tackled and independent institutions strengthened.

Support and demands

With a view to the EU enlargement process, Germany wants thorough reviews to be conducted on how successfully the necessary reform steps have been carried out. At the same time, the German Government is committed to supporting transformation on the ground. Germany is fostering endeavours to modernise society, politics and the economy, for example by providing help with the dual system of vocational training and digital infrastructure. Foreign Minister Gabriel will thus also meet members of the opposition and representatives of civil society in Belgrade and Pristina.

Progress requires reconciliation

The German Government attaches particular importance to Serbia and Kosovo normalising their relations and being good neighbours to each other. The Federal Foreign Office is supporting youth projects, including the Western Balkans Youth Office that was set up in 2017, with the aim of fostering reconciliation between the two countries.

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