Chancellor Angela Merkel sees it as essential to integrate the Western Balkans into the European Union. During her visit to Belgrade on Monday evening, the CDU politician said:
“Europe has an absolute geostrategic interest in including these countries in the EU.”
The way to get there is a long one, admitted Merkel. The Western Balkans countries will probably have to go through many reforms before then.
Chancellor Merkel’s farewell tour in the Western Balkans
The visit of the German Chancellor to the Serbian capital, described by many as a farewell tour in the Western Balkans, was followed with great enthusiasm and encouragement in the media close to the government. The Serbian Finance Minister Siniša Mali even described the visit as a “great victory for Serbia and the Serbian President”. It is certainly not inconvenient for Aleksandar Vučić. Elections are due to take place in Serbia in a few months, and Merkel’s words of support about the good cooperation so far could be extremely helpful.
Former Serbian President Boris Tadić also spoke of a visit “again” in an election year. The German Chancellor was in Belgrade exactly ten years ago. At that time, Tadić was the Serbian president. But at the press conference at the time it became clear that Tadić was apparently unwilling to make concessions on the issue of Kosovo do. After that he lost “international support” according to his own statements.
Branko Radun, analyst and columnist for the Belgrade daily newspaper Politics sees the visit to Belgrade as “a sign that Germany and the EU need Serbia, perhaps more than the Serbs realize”. Opposite to RT DE explained Radun:
“With the farewell visit, Merkel sent out a signal that the goal of German and European politics was to strengthen the marginalized position in the Western Balkans. This is also a kind of testament for those who will be her successors – the fight for it the Balkans against the aspirations of Russia, China and Turkey. American hegemony is undisputed anyway. “
Merkel’s distorted view of the Western Balkans: fear of the influence of Beijing and Moscow
Radun is also certain that Merkel’s visit is intended to strengthen President Vučić’s image as the person who enjoys support in the international community. The CDU politician praised him as someone who “made no false promises” and kept the “agreements”. Radun emphasized that the visit can be seen as a confirmation of the relevance of Serbia.
“But the attitude towards Germany is divided – for some it is the country that attacked us in 1941 and was involved in the bombing in 1999, for others it is the richest country in Europe.”
The Serbian right-wing conservative politician Vladan Glišić, who recently became an independent opposition member of parliament, was particularly disturbed by the applause and enthusiasm with which the outgoing German Chancellor was greeted in Belgrade. Opposite to RT DE declared Glišić:
“It is unnatural to greet Angela Merkel as a friend of Serbia. Since 2008, when Germany recognized the false state of Kosovo on Serbian territory, its soldiers have been both de facto and de jure an occupying power in part of our country.”
Huge German flags could be seen on numerous buildings in Belgrade, and even billboards with messages in German – “Welcome, Chancellor Merkel” – were commissioned.
The opposition politician and sharp critic of Vučić’s policies, Mlađan Đorđević, called this “tasteless” and “submissive”. Numerous political analysts in the country agreed that the Serbian head of state enjoyed Merkel’s support because stability in the Western Balkans was important to German interests in the region, especially those in the economic field.
The presence of German companies in Serbia has grown in recent years. Many attribute this to lavish subsidies, but others point to the efforts of Berlin to achieve pacification in the region through local economic strengthening and regional cooperation between the countries and to advance necessary reforms from the perspective of the West.
more on the subject – The Kosovo question: The pressure on Serbia is increasing, but Belgrade is hesitant to recognize it