Ahead of his departure for the Foreign Ministers’ meeting at this year’s Western Balkans Summit, Minister of State Michael Roth issued the following statement today (9 July):
I am delighted that we are continuing to focus so intensively on the countries of the Western Balkans, this time within the framework of the Berlin Process. Stability and the development of democracy in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia are in the interests of both Germany and Europe and are of crucial importance to our own security.
The Western Balkans Foreign Ministers’ meeting in London is an important opportunity for countries in the region to enhance regional cooperation, thus helping them to move closer to the EU. The historic agreement between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the dispute concerning the latter’s name shows that it is possible to overcome even deep‑seated bilateral differences if trust has developed and the political will is there. To promote this – not only among politicians but also ordinary people – the German Government is, in particular, supporting the work of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO) as part of the Berlin Process. This is about the reconciliation between future generations in a region where the scars of war are still very present.
The Berlin Process established by the German Government in 2014, within the framework of which the Summit is taking place, has launched important initiatives, for example, on the improvement of the region’s transport infrastructure, in the economic sphere and in youth work. It is thus a valuable contribution towards enhancing bilateral relations among the states in the region. Essentially, this is about improving regional cooperation among the countries in the region as well as links with the EU, with the focus on transport and energy infrastructure, young people and the economy. Among other things, the process has led to the establishment of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office and the agreement to create a common economic area. The process has done much to build confidence and thus also to foster reconciliation in the states of the Western Balkans, where the consequences of the wars following the demise of Yugoslavia continue to place a strain on bilateral relations. The meeting of Heads of State and Government within the framework of the Berlin Process is taking place on 10 July.