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Written by SOT.COM.AL 6 Dhjetor 2023
On the eve of the parliamentary elections in Serbia, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock expressed "great concern about the tendencies of nationalist propaganda" in the country. The German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, and her Slovenian counterpart, Tanja Fajon, want to promote the rapid integration of the Western Balkans into the EU. But countries must also carry out their own reforms in this direction, the two chief diplomats said after their meeting on Tuesday, 5.12.2023, in Ljubljana. "There can be no gray areas in Europe," said Annalena Baerbock. "At a time when the Russian president, who in his imperial madness is attacking not only Ukraine, but also the peace order in Europe, it should be clear that we protect this peace," said the Foreign Minister. This was demonstrated by the 55 countries at the last OSCE meeting in Skopje, and this applies even more to the European Union.
The Western Balkans in the EU – a geostrategic necessity
The Foreign Ministers of Germany and Slovenia, Baerbock and Fajon, assured that they want to push forward the membership of the Western Balkans in the EU. "This expansion is a geostrategic necessity," said Tanja Fajon. The upcoming elections in Serbia will add a special dynamic to the process.
It is very important that at the same time as the EU accession process for Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, the Western Balkans are not left aside. "The aggression in Ukraine has significantly increased the security risks in the countries of the Western Balkans," said Fajon. She complained about the departure of many young people from the countries of the Western Balkans, which is a consequence of the lack of perspective. "They no longer have faith in the history of this expansion process," said Fajon.
Tanja Fajon further said that she hopes that the parliamentary elections in Serbia will be "democratic and transparent", but added that "the EU will also send important signals to the Western Balkans by the end of the year. Above all, Fajon expects progress in the membership negotiations with Bosnia-Herzegovina and visa facilitation for Kosovo. "By the end of the decade we must take some further steps regarding the expansion of the Western Balkans", said the Slovenian Foreign Minister.
Serbia to follow the recommendations of the OSCE
Regarding the behavior of the leadership in Belgrade towards the EU and close relations with Russia, Baerbock said: "When we talk now about enlargement, it is clear that you cannot sit on two chairs at the same time."
Therefore, the accession talks must be accompanied by a commitment to peace, security and values ??within the European Union.
"That's why I am extremely worried about the recent developments, especially in Serbia, regarding the nationalist propaganda tendencies", said the German Foreign Minister.
Serbia's position also has an impact on the issue of further cooperation between Serbia and the EU.
"This also means that we are closely following the new elections in Serbia," said Baerbock. The Serbian government must implement OSCE recommendations on democratic institutions and human rights from the last elections in 2020, Baerbock warned. The Green Party politician specifically mentioned "the failure to guarantee equal access to the media for all political candidates in the past" and spoke of voter pressure and misuse of public functions and resources by the Serbian government.
"That's why it's just as important that we look closely at these points with a view to the new elections," Baerbock said. Even if some of these points are in the past, they are still a problem today.
Baerbock was in Ljubljana for a short bilateral visit. There she spoke with her Slovenian colleague Tanja Fajon and Prime Minister Robert Golob. The German Foreign Minister also visited the National Logistics Center, which was newly equipped for crisis situations after the recent floods. Germany was the country that gave Slovenia the fastest help after the flood disaster. / DW