Germany Backs WB Regional Market Instead of Open Balkans

The German government is against the initiative Open Balkans promoted by Serb President Aleksandar Vucic, Albanian Premier Edi Rama and North Macedonian Premier Zoran Zaev backing instead the Action Plan of the Regional Common Market adopted at the Sofia Summit of the Berlin Process in 2020.

In a written response to Deutsche Welle, a German government spokesman recalled that the heads of state and government of the six Western Balkan countries affirmed their efforts to implement this important project at the last summit of the "Berlin Process" on July 5 at the invitation of the federal chancellor, Merkel.

He added that the four freedom agreements should be signed by October 6th this year, when the next EU summit with the Western Balkans takes place in order to "achieve tangible improvements for the citizens of the six Western Balkan countries."

The Action Plan for the Common Regional Market has been approved in principle by the six countries of the Western Balkans and aims to regulate the freedom of movement with identity cards, movement and stay for third country nationals, recognition of licenses for doctors, dentists and architects as well as recognition of university degrees.

Asked by Deutsche Welle how the German government supports the Open Balkans initiative, the spokesman said in few words: "The German government is aware of the Open Balkans initiative. From the point of view of the German federal government, any regional cooperation in the Western Balkans is to be welcomed."

In the written response, the German government leaves unanswered Deutsche Welle's questions about how Chancellor Merkel evaluates the Open Balkans initiative and what role the initiative plays in implementing the Regional Common Market Action Plan.

With this statement, the German government implies that its priority is the implementation of the agreements reached by the comprehensive forum of the Berlin Process denying voices that Berlin backed the Open Balkans.

Kosovo is one of the countries that strongly opposes this initiative, as it says that Serbia benefits more from it.

Montenegro’s Chief Negotiator Zorka Kordić said on Monday 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. /