France Turns a Cold Shoulder to Open Balkans Initiative after Germany

After Germany the Open Balkans initiative is coldly evaluated by France which has said it supports the goal of the regional common market proclaimed at the Sofia summit under the Berlin Process.
A diplomatic source in Paris told Gazeta Express on Friday that when it comes to advancement of regional cooperation in the Western Balkans any initiative is an opportunity if coordinated with the work under way in the framework of the Berlin Process.
The Open Balkan initiative was launched on July 29, 2021 by Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia which renamed it changing its initial format as Mini Schengen as the latter did not have any concrete success.
Diplomatic sources in Paris said that progress is needed to push forward the work as part of the Berlin Process as the next EU-Western Balkans Summit is expected to be held on 6 October
“We support the strengthening of regional cooperation in the Western Balkans, which is essential for the region’s economic and social development and for its closer ties with Europe,” the diplomatic source told Gazeta Express.
“This cooperation is set to encompass the six countries in the region and be based on European standards and principles. For example, we support the goal of the regional common market proclaimed at the Sofia summit under the Berlin Process (10 November 2020),” the source said.
The regional initiative Open Balkans is not supported by the other three Western Balkan Countries – Kosovo, Montenegro, and Bosnia- Herzegovina.
Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti has recently said the initiative as such is an effort of Serbia to rule the region.
Montenegro’s Chief Negotiator Zorka Kordić has said Podgorica focuses on Common Regional Market, an initiative within the Berlin Process, which is more suitable for the country than the Open Balkan initiative launched by Serbia, Albania and North Macedonia,
Since Montenegro is the most advanced country in the region when it comes to the EU integration process, the Government supports the implementation of regional initiatives exclusively as an instrument of a faster EU accession, Kordić told Vijesti on Monday.
“Therefore, we primarily focus on the implementation of the Action Plan for the Common Regional Market under the auspices of the Berlin Process, as a political initiative that includes all Western Balkan countries,” she stressed.
Kordić stated that the Common Regional Market was more inclusive than the Open Balkan, because in addition to the four freedoms of movement, it also addresses digital infrastructure, innovation and a single investment policy according to EU standards. /