Merkel and Macron push Serbia, Kosovo to resume talks

Before the start of the summit in Berlin, Mogherini held a series of bilateral meetings with the Western Balkans’ leaders

On Monday evening, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a Western Balkans summit in Berlin to restart deadlocked talks between Serbia and Kosovo. The leaders of France and Germany warned Belgrade and Pristina, whose relationship worsen in the last six months, that resolving their dispute was crucial to future ties with the European Union.

At the meeting took part the leaders of all six Western Balkans countries which want to join the EU - Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, NorthMacedonia, Serbia, Kosovo and Montenegro, as well as the prime ministers of EU countries Croatia and Slovenia. Federica Mogherini, the EU Foreign Policy Chief, also attended the meeting.

Stability in the region at large and EU perspective of the Western Balkans countries were also on the agenda.

We see the whole region can only develop together, Chancellor Merkel told media before the sitting. She expounded that the summit is about an honest exchange of views, an informal format and that doesn’t replace the Berlin process. Today it will be a step in a very long road and not necessarily result-oriented process, Merkel asserted.

The German Chancellor expressed support for the EU perspective of the Western Balkan countries. It is in our interest, in the interest of Europe, to see positive developments in this region, she also said.

We hope that Serbia and Kosovo will resume the dialogue, Macron pointed out on his side, adding “We don’t want to impose any kind of solution to Belgrade and Pristina, but to look at all possible options”.

An EU-facilitated dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo has been suspended since November, after Belgrade protested Pristina’s decision to raise tariffs on all Serbian goods.

Kosovo's Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj said he will keep the tax until Belgrade shows openness to recognising independence.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic stated that “we are ready to continue the dialogue tomorrow if the tariff is repealed”.

Normalising ties with Kosovo and harmonising its foreign policy with that of the EU, are among key criteria Serbia has to meet to join the bloc.

Ahead of the summit, Mogherini met with the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denis Zvizdic, President and Prime Minister of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic and Ana Brnabić, President of Kosovo Hashim Thaci. She also met with Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama and with the President of Montenegro, Milo Dukanovic.

In these bilateral discussions, Mogherini and the leaders discussed the situation in the region and reaffirmed the importance and the commitment to regional cooperation, good neighbourly relations and reconciliation, where the Prespa agreement was set as a historical example. In addition, they also discussed the progress and future perspectives on their respective paths towards the EU.

 

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