Germany Supports Balkan Development

The German Minister Michael Roth affirms Germany will keep cooperating with Western Balkan countries

June 10th, 2016
Valentina De Gregorio, News from Berlin

On the 24th of May, Michael Roth took part in the ministerial meeting for the preparation of the upcoming Western Balkans conference held in Paris on July 4th 2016. The aim of the conference is to provide concrete projects contributing to reconciliation and economic development of Western Balkan states and bring the region closer to the EU.

The German Federal Government had directed the first of these meetings with the Government, the economy ministers and the foreign ministers of the Western Balkan countries in Berlin. The ministerial conference will bring together the six Western Balkans countries (Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia), Germany, Austria, Croatia, Italy and Slovenia, as well as the European Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations and the Secretary-General of the European External Action Service.

A high-level EU-Western Balkans meeting on regional cooperation was held in Berlin in 2014. The meeting oversaw the participation of heads of government and ministers from all six Western Balkans countries. The aim of the meeting was to reiterate the EU’s commitment to the Western Balkan countries, support for the accession process, and facilitate increased regional cooperation. The ex-European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso first had a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Merkel prior to participating in the Western Balkans leaders’ segment of the summit.

German’s policy towards the Western Balkans is marked by continuous commitment targeting different phases: reconstruction, stabilization, consolidation of rule of law and market economy as well asmember-state building. In fact, the Western Balkans play a central role for German foreign policy as well as for EU foreign policy. The Kosovo conflict in 1999 puts German foreign policy practitioners in front of the decision between “never again war” and “never again Auschwitz”. At the same time the Western Balkans remind the EU of its promise to share peace, prosperity and solidarity with its South-eastern European neighbors. Although the topic of migration currently dominates bilateral relations with the Western Balkans, German foreign policy can mainly be understood as a contribution to a committed EU enlargement policy.

The German Minister Michael Roth made clear in his speech that Germany, together with its European partners, wiil continue supporting the countries of the Western Balkans, particularly in the maintenance of democracy, rule of law and the protection of fundamental rights. This is a prerequisite for membership in the EU. Particularly, young people can be protagonists of this unique event. On this point, Roth clarified that "The young generation looks to Europe, searching for specific social and economic perspectives”. More than 150 young individuals from the EU and Western Balkans countries will have the opportunity to attend the Connecting Youth Conference and discuss common challenges and find joint solutions.

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