German official warns against Open Balkan initiative – Exit

The Open Balkans initiative between Albania, Serbia and North Macedonia should not duplicate the Berlin process, according to the director for the Western Balkans at the German Foreign Ministry, Suzan Shutz.

Open Balkan is an initiative to facilitate the free movement of people and goods through mutual agreements signed by the country’s three leaders. Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro are not members due to problems with Serbia in the case of Kosovo and fear that this will influence the region’s EU accession process.

In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Shutz said the initiative must comply with EU regulations and all six regional states must be included.

“We believe that the inclusivity of the six states is essential. The Open Balkans is so far an initiative that works in three countries. For us, inclusivity in the process is important, and there should not be any duplication, but we should work hand in hand,” the German official said.

The next meeting of the Berlin process will take place on November 3, and at the top of the agenda will be the realization of the regional common market agreement, which, according to the German official, is for traveling with identity cards , to recognize professional degrees as well as academic qualifications among the states of the region.

Shutz, who was previously German ambassador in Tirana, asked the Albanian government to do more to avoid the departure of young people by seriously fighting corruption.

Asked about the tax amnesty, Shutz said Albania should closely follow European Union advice in designing this initiative.

Meanwhile, a study by The Balkan Forum found that the initiative could have negative implications for the region and real cooperation.

“The inclusion of half of BB6 in the Open Balkans initiative may have negative symbolic and real-world cooperation implications,” the study found, adding that the initiative risks superseding the market focus. regional commons, which is part of the Berlin agreement. Treat.

“While the Open Balkans initiative was not necessarily born out of frustration over enlargement issues, the leaders involved seem to welcome the idea that they don’t have to address European standards within it,” indicates the study.

The leaders of the three countries have repeatedly asked the EU for more support, particularly in the area of ​​energy.

“A difficult winter is coming. We have seen that there will be help from the EU. Partial aid or support to buy the necessary energy will be important and excellent for all our countries. It is also a necessity for them to survive the winter,” Serbian President Aleksander Vucic said in September. on the situation to come.

James R. Rhodes