OLAF SCHOLZ PHOTO: Reuters
The German leader is touring the Balkans in a bid to quell regional conflicts
In an attempt to quell years of raging regional conflicts, the German chancellor has launched a series of visits to Balkan countries. In just two days, Olaf Scholz will visit Kosovo, Serbia, Greece, northern Macedonia and Bulgaria. The goal of Scholz’s mini tour is to move the frozen disputes with a special emphasis on the one between Skopje and Sofia, Deutsche Welle writes.
The first stop on the German chancellor’s missionary tour on Friday morning was Pristina. After meeting with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti, Olaf Scholz stressed that the integration of the Western Balkan countries into the EU remains a priority for his government amid signals from some members of the bloc that their interest in enlargement is waning. The chancellor called on Kosovo and Serbia to speed up their dialogue, saying the war in Ukraine has made resolving the differences between Kosovo and Serbia even more important. “It is important for Kosovo to move the EU-mediated dialogue with Serbia forward. In times like these, the value of security and freedom becomes clearer to us. This is an even bigger and more important reason for Kosovo and Serbia to find a political solution that will contribute to regional stability through an inclusive and sustainable agreement, “Scholz said.
From Pristina, the German chancellor continued to Belgrade, where he was solemnly welcomed by the Serbian president at the Palace of Serbia on Friday afternoon, Danas reports. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to Belgrade on June 10th is extremely important because of the developed bilateral relations and Germany’s position as Serbia’s most important foreign trade partner, as well as regional cooperation and the development of relations with the Western Balkans and their European perspective. Suzana Grubiesic of the Center for Foreign Policy.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov will host Olaf Scholz on Saturday, the press service of the Council of Ministers announced. The two will hold a face-to-face meeting, followed by a plenary meeting of the two delegations. This is the Chancellor’s first bilateral visit to Bulgaria. The talks between Petkov and Scholz will focus on the possibilities for deepening bilateral relations, as well as current topics on the international and European agenda, including the war in Ukraine, energy security in Europe, European integration in the Western Balkans and others.
Early in his tour of Kosovo, Scholz said Germany would hold an international meeting later this year in Berlin to assess the progress made by the six candidates on meeting the criteria for EU membership. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February significantly boosted calls for Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, northern Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo to join the 27-nation bloc through full membership or some alternative.
Scholz’s trip to the region comes shortly after European Council President Charles Michel and before the EU-Western Balkans summit on June 23rd. The same day marks the start of the Brussels European Council, which Skopje hopes will hear a “yes” to starting EU membership talks. However, Bulgaria has not yet announced its intention to lift its veto.