Berlin/Sarajevo (dpa) – Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has called for greater European commitment to the countries in the Balkans. “The Russian attack on Ukraine is a turning point that makes it abundantly clear that Europe must be prepared to invest strategically in its long-term security,” the Green politician said on Wednesday before departing on a trip to the Balkans and the Republic of Moldova that will last several days. She said this applied particularly to relations with the countries of the Western Balkans. “The peace we have in the Western Balkans today may not be perfect – but it is precious,” Baerbock stressed.
“We have disappointed and neglected many of these countries in recent years,” the minister admitted. “Actors like Russia, who have no interest in a European future and do not shy away from reigniting unresolved conflicts, are pushing into this open flank.” She said she wanted above all to listen to what the people in the Western Balkans expected – “but also to make it clear that we will not abandon this region in the heart of Europe to Moscow’s influence.”
Baerbock explained that Germany has a fundamental interest in the Balkans being politically stable and economically prosperous and in its states being oriented towards Europe. She also said that the German government was committed to this, amongst other things by making strategic investments in renewable energies in particular.
Baerbock will first meet her counterpart Bisera Turkovic this Thursday in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Later, a meeting is planned with the international community’s High Representative, the former CSU politician Christian Schmidt. The minister will then visit Kosovo and Serbia on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, Baerbock is planning to hold talks in the Republic of Moldova, which borders Ukraine.