European Western Balkans

Schütz: The Berlin Process will continue to play an important role for the Western Balkan

Susanne Schütz; Photo: German Embassy in Albania

BERLIN – In 2014,  German government, together with the countries of the region and other partners, launched the Berlin Process to promote regional cooperation, then and now, we believe that the future of the Western Balkans lies in the European Union, said for Deutsche Welle Susanne Schütz, Regional Director for South-Eastern Europe at the German Federal Foreign Office.

A new summit of the Berlin Process for the countries of the Western Balkans is being held in Berlin today.

She stated that Germany expects concrete progress on the issues of regional cooperation, which are part of the Berlin Process.

“The Summit is the culmination of a series of preparatory meetings at ministerial level. Civil society and youth forum is also part of the process. The Summit will focus in particular on the next steps to build a common regional market. This historical project, agreed by the governments of the six countries at the last summit in November 2020, refers to four fundamental freedoms: free movement of people, goods, services and capital, and that should be achieved by 2024”, she said.

According to Schütz, the return of the Summit to Berlin after seven years is also an excellent opportunity to review and exchange ideas on the future of the Berlin Process.

On the question, what are the main challenges and which countries are blocking the implementation of the Common Region Market, Schütz assesses that the challenges are, on the one hand, the relatively short period of time, and the complexity of the issue in practice.

She added that the Berlin Process will continue to plan an important role.

“It is a clear wish of all involved actors. Its trademark is a strong initiative from the region. But of course, the Western Balkans have changed since 2014, and relations with the EU have also intensified since then. It is therefore good that we are now discussing at the summit, together with the countries in the region and with our partners – including the EU, how the process will continue and what adjustments make sense”, Schütz concluded.

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