German Professor Wonders Why Invent a New Instrument for WB Cooperation Instead of Berlin Process

Professor Franz-Lothar Altmann, one of the best German and European experts on Balkan issues, has analyzed the Skopje summit of 29-30 July 2021 on the Mini Schengen initiative in an interview with the Serbian newspaper Danas

Altmann said Mini Schengen has nothing to do with the 'Berlin Process' and added that the region's political efforts should have focused on the Regional Market of the Berlin Process.

"Why not work for the Common Regional Market under the umbrella of the Berlin Process instead of Mini Schengen, which was agreed upon in 2020?" asked the Professor in the interview which appeared on Sunday.

According to him, the Common Regional Market means realization of the same goals as mini-Schengen, but also includes EU member states, which would lead to the establishment of a wider economic zone between the European Union and the Western Balkans, with economic ties similar to those of the EU with Iceland and Norway.

Altmann wonders why these efforts are being made to 'invent a new weapon for cooperation' instead of intensifying calls for the European Union to provide support to the region and why the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) is not being used more effectively.

Regarding the information that the name 'Mini Schengen' will be changed in the 'Open Balkans' Altman said that did not matter much.

"Maybe through this new name, or better to say this labeling, Vucic tries to channel this initiative in the economic field, but I think that this will not be useful. Vucic, Rama and Zaev have held eight meetings so far and nothing significant has happened," Altmann said.

It's to be noted that countries like Kosovo, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina have not accepted to join this initiative seeing no new political vision in it as the EU is the major target of the WB countries./