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Kosovo-Serbia tensions threaten Balkan path to European integration, German foreign minister warns

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Germany’s foreign minister on Friday expressed the European Union’s deep concerns following the recent shootout between masked Serbian gunmen and Kosovo police, which left four people dead and raised tensions in the region.

TIRANA, Albania — Germany’s foreign minister expressed the European Union’s deep concerns Friday over the recent shootout between masked Serbian gunmen and Kosovo police, which left four people dead and raised tensions in the region.

Annalena Baerbock was in Tirana, Albania, for a meeting of foreign ministers ahead of the October 16 summit on the Berlin Process, an initiative by Germany and France aimed at encouraging six Western Balkan countries to continue to work towards membership of the bloc.

Foreign ministers from the six countries – Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia – meet with Baerbock, EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi and other senior officials from the bloc.

“The foundation of mobility in the region is security and safety,” Baerbock said before the start of the meeting, adding: “The tensions of recent days between Serbia and Kosovo also endanger this Berlin process “.

On September 24, around 30 heavily armed Serbian men first killed a Kosovar policeman, then set up barricades in northern Kosovo before launching an hours-long shootout with Kosovo police.

Kosovo has accused Serbia of orchestrating the “act of aggression” against its former province, whose 2008 declaration of independence Belgrade does not recognize. Serbia has denied this, saying the group acted on its own. own authority.

The six Western Balkan countries are at different stages of integration into the bloc. In 2013, Croatia, also a Western Balkan country, became the newest member of the EU. Since then, progress has stalled and there is no clear timetable for accession.

Baerbock said “the path to the European Union (should be) faster and deeper… (and) the Berlin process is crucial” to promote connectivity and cooperation in the region.

The EU did not judge that the economies and political institutions of the other Western Balkan countries were ready to be integrated into the European single market of borderless trade and Western democratic ideals.

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Follow Llazar Semini on https://twitter.com/lsemini

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