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Western Balkans Summit

Deepening relations - offering perspectives

A stable and robustly developing region in the Western Balkans is important to the German government and to the European Union, stressed Chancellor Angela Merkel following the Western Balkans Summit in London. The summit generated progress: the Western Balkan states intend, for instance, to establish a science and research foundation.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland's Prime Minister at a press conference on the Western Balkans Summit EU perspectives through infrastructure development, economic cooperation and broad-based youth exchange schemes Foto: Bundesregierung/Denzel

The participating heads of state and government at the Western Balkans Summit also agreed on new cooperation in the field of internal security. This is extremely important for the German government and for the EU, said Chancellor Angela Merkel at the press conference following the summit. Germany and France have together promoted an initiative aiming to prevent the illegal ownership, use of and trade in firearms.

Strengthening links between states

Diverse infrastructure projects, and the newly founded youth office, are good examples of links that have been forged between the Western Balkan states. The aim is to build on this foundation, with the goal of strengthening young people. "We want to offer this region a perspective," the Chancellor reaffirmed.

Another important point is extending economic cooperation. The Chancellor expressed her satisfaction with the outcome of the summit. "I think this was a good day for cooperation." Many problems must still be resolved, but tangible progress can be seen, she said.

For enhanced networking

Alongside the United Kingdom which hosted the event, the summit was attended by the six Western Balkan states (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia) as well as Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia and Poland. Greece and Bulgaria attended as visitors.

For the first time, the day before the summit, the respective foreign ministers and home affairs ministers of all participating countries also met. In the run-up to the summit, the economics ministers met on 4 July in Vienna.

Diplomatic initiative for reconciliation

In 2014 the Chancellor launched the Berlin Process, which marked the start of the series of Western Balkans Summits. The aim is to foster reconciliation among the states of the Western Balkans and provide them with practical support for essential structural reforms. The summit cycle is not part of the efforts of the Western Balkan states to move closer to the EU, and must be seen independently of accession negotiations.

In London, participating states signed three joint declarations on the difficult topics of war crimes, missing persons and bilateral relations in the region.

The summit in London was the fifth meeting in this format. Because of the positive response in the region, the Berlin Process is to be continued in 2019, when leaders will meet in Poland.

Mittwoch, 11. Juli 2018