Germany is against redrawing borders in the Western Balkans, German foreign minister Heiko Maas has said in Pristina after a Slovenia-linked plan leaked to break up Bosnia and creating a Greater Albania. “The idea that things can be solved with new lines on a map is not only unrealistic, but it is dangerous to even initiate this discussion,” he said on Thursday. The informal paper was put into “the shredder of history”.
Maas made that comment while on visit to Pristina where he held talks with President Vjosa Osmani, Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Foreign Minister Donika Gёrvalla.
He stressed Germany’s support for Kosovo on the process of dialogue with Serbia in a joint press conference with President Osmani.
“I have emphasized our unconditional support for the dialogue for the normalization of relations between Kosovo and Serbia moderated by the EU and I have heard topics that are important to the people of Kosovo,” he said as he is set to visit Belgrade on Friday.
Speaking of the dialogue with Serbia, President Osmani said Kosovo has been engaged in it from the beginning and offered cooperation, despite Serbia’s refusal to “apologize for the crimes committed in Kosovo”. She added that Kosovo will continue to ask for justice for victims of the war with Serbia.
“For us, this dialogue process needs a reset, so it is not just a continuation and all our institutions will carefully review each agreement reached, each document reviewed so far and we will develop a dialogue based on clear principles,” Osmani said.
She stated that Kosovo expects this process to end with mutual recognition
“The Republic of Kosovo will in no way accept to enter into dangerous adventures that have to do either with border changes- a logic that belongs to the last century- or with the change of the constitutional regulation which would endanger our internal functionality,” Osmani said.
Maas pledges support in pandemic situation, reveals Kosovo has met criteria for visa liberalization
One of the main topics discussed between Osmani and Maas was the COVID-19 pandemic situation and the related support from Germany.
Osmani said citizens expect institutions to first deal with managing the pandemic and its economic consequences.
“The European Union has prepared a support package for the countries of the Western Balkans in the amount of 12 billion euros and now it happened that this year we will take over the role of host of the so-called Berlin Process which includes 6 countries of the Western Balkans,” Maas said, ensuring Osmani about their efforts to support Kosovo.
Commenting on visa liberalization for Kosovo, Osmani stated that citizens are disappointed with the EU for having been left the only country in the region with a visa regime for the Schengen area.
“The position of the German government is very clear, that Kosovo has met all the criteria for visa liberalization. It is also a matter for the EU to fulfill the promise it has made and during our EU presidency we have put this issue at the top of the agenda. We will be committed to visa liberalization as soon as possible,” Maas said.
Federal Foreign Office’s comment prior to visit of Maas to Pristina and Belgrade
Germany strongly supports helping the Western Balkans make progress towards the EU, along with stronger cooperation in the region. An important instrument for this is collaboration in the context of the Berlin Process that was initiated by the German Government in 2014. However, the repeated tensions that have arisen in Serbian-Kosovar relations are hampering the development of the two countries and of the region.
In Kosovo, there was recently a change at the top level of government: the new administration of Prime Minister Kurti assumed office one month ago and has vowed to embark on a series of reforms. Vjosa Osmani was elected as the new President on 4 April. Foreign Minister Maas intends to harness the momentum of this new beginning. Speaking prior to departure, he emphasised:
The still unresolved relationship between Serbia and Kosovo is hampering the development of both countries and the entire region – and hence their further progress towards the European Union. I therefore intend also to use my visit to explore on the ground how we can support the EU-facilitated normalisation dialogue between the two countries. The assumption of office of the new government in Pristina is a good opportunity for this. At the same time we are visibly investing in our relations with Serbia with the opening of our new Embassy in Belgrade. We are thereby underscoring our commitment to our belief that the future of the countries of the Western Balkans lies in the EU.