Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement today (22 April) prior to his departure for Kosovo and Serbia:
The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown us once again how closely the fates of Germany, the European Union and the countries of the Western Balkans are intertwined. Nobody in Europe remains unaffected by the success or the failure of their neighbours. The fact that now we in the EU share the increasing progress in vaccination also with the countries of the Western Balkans is a crucial moment in the joint fight against the virus. However, my talks in Pristina and Belgrade will also focus on how we can work together to more effectively mitigate the economic and social consequences of the pandemic.
The still unresolved relationship between Serbia and Kosovo is hampering the development of both countries and the entire region – and hence their further progress towards the European Union. I therefore intend also to use my visit to explore on the ground how we can support the EU-facilitated normalisation dialogue between the two countries. The assumption of office of the new government in Pristina is a good opportunity for this. At the same time we are visibly investing in our relations with Serbia with the opening of our new Embassy in Belgrade. We are thereby underscoring our commitment to our belief that the future of the countries of the Western Balkans lies in the EU.