“Realistic EU membership”
Scholz sees Serbia and Kosovo in the west
In the context of the Russian riots in the Western Balkans, Scholz spoke with the heads of government of Serbia and Kosovo in Berlin. If the two countries were to resolve their tensions, it would be a big step on the way to the EU, promises the Chancellor and announces her visit to the region.
Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz called on Serbia and Kosovo to settle their differences in order to pave the way for EU membership. EU membership is a “realistic” prospect for both countries, the SPD politician said after separate talks with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic in Berlin. His meeting with Vucic also discussed Serbia’s position on the war in Ukraine. Kosovo, inhabited mostly by ethnic Albanians, broke away from Serbia and declared independence in 2008. However, Serbia does not recognize the independence of its former province of Kosovo.
During the meetings with Kurti and Vucic, Scholz announced a “relaunch” of the “Berlin process” initiated by his predecessor Angela Merkel. The focus is on diplomatic efforts to bring the Western Balkans closer to the EU. A meeting between Vucic and Kurti was scheduled for the evening. At the invitation of Scholz, the EU representative for the Western Balkans, Miroslaw Lajcak, mediator in the dialogue between the two countries, was also to participate. The goal of the process is also Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo as a state, Scholz said. Recognition is “essential” for both countries to want to join the EU. Addressing Serbia, he warned that “commitments made” must be kept. “Unilateral actions are not helpful there.”
“Factors controlled by the Kremlin”
The Chancellor announced a trip to the region, during which he would also visit Serbia and Kosovo. In the second half of the year, he also wants to bring together the Western Balkan countries for a meeting in Berlin. “Especially at times like these, when a brutal war is being waged in our immediate vicinity, it is of paramount importance that the two countries gradually resolve their conflict,” Scholz said, referring to Serbia and the Kosovo after his conversation with Kurti. “In this way, they would make a contribution to the peace and security of the Western Balkans, but also of the whole of Europe.” He wants it to go “quickly”.
Kurti stressed that his country is oriented towards Europe and the West. “We have no perspective other than the EU and NATO,” he said. His country is conducting a dialogue with Serbia “which should lead to mutual recognition”. Vucic stressed that his government “would do everything so that we can reach a compromise”. However, these solutions cannot come from Serbia alone. Kurti accused Russia of stoking tensions in the Western Balkans. “There are factors controlled by the Kremlin,” he said, without giving details. “These pose a threat to peace and security.” But Kosovo will know how to defend itself, Kurti added.
Serbia itself victim of sanctions
After the conversation with Kurti, Scholz met Vucic. The Serbian President recalled that Serbia had also opted for the “European path”. His government will stick to this, even if it is “not the most popular path” according to the latest polls. Scholz warned that for successful integration into the EU, Serbia must “rigorously pursue its reform process”, especially in the areas of the rule of law, freedom of the media and the fight against corruption and corruption. organized crime.
Serbia’s position on the war in Ukraine was also on the agenda of talks between Vucic and Scholz. Serbia condemned the Russian invasion, but at the same time Belgrade does not want to break with Moscow and does not want to join the EU sanctions against Russia. Vucic asked for it to be understood that Serbia had a different attitude, not least because of its own experience “as a victim of sanctions”. At the same time, however, Vucic admitted that anyone heading to Europe must “gradually” adapt to EU decisions. “In any case, Serbia understood the message from Germany very well” and from other EU countries, he said.