Foreign Minister Baerbock prior to her trip to Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina

04.03.2024 - Press release

The countries of the Western Balkans are an integral part of our Europe. Doing everything in our power to support the six countries in the region along their path towards the European Union has, in view of Russia’s brutal imperialism, become a geopolitical necessity, if it wasn’t before.

We cannot afford to tolerate any grey areas in Europe, and together we must do everything we can to protect flanks which Russia could use for its policy of destabilisation, disinformation and subversion. This includes helping the countries of the Western Balkans to strengthen their democratic institutions, improve their resilience and offer their people economic prospects. As the EU, we have the joint task of ensuring that we ourselves are fit for the future while placing more chairs around the European table. Only together will we succeed in laying a firm foundation for peace, freedom and security in Europe.

In NATO, Montenegro has been our ally for several years. In the EU accession process, Montenegro has set itself an ambitious agenda and is now once again tackling it with determination. We want to work together to use this new enthusiasm and support Montenegro as a close partner and good friend along its path towards EU membership. In Podgorica the focus will be not least on how Montenegro can make even more progress in the area of rule of law reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime, and how we can support the country in this endeavour.

Bosnia and Herzegovina stands at a decisive crossroads in the accession process. Last year, the European Council decided to open accession negotiations as soon as the relevant criteria are fulfilled. Along the path towards the EU, the leaders in Sarajevo need to take steps to consistently implement the necessary reforms. The adoption of the law to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing was one such European reform requirement. In view of the local elections due to take place in October, tackling electoral reform with an integrity package is now crucial. Free and fair elections are the foundation of a democratic society. In this context we are taking a determined stand against those who, through their divisive fantasies, are hampering Bosnia and Herzegovina’s progress towards the EU and calling European values into question.


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