Sunday, December 5

Von der Leyen’s tour of the Balkans to reduce tensions


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The president of the Comisión Europea, Ursula Von der Leyen, yesterday began a tour of the Western Balkans with a message that aims to maintain the hope that the six countries of the region will one day be members of the EU. Despite the fact that Bulgaria’s position makes it impossible for the moment to start negotiations with North Macedonia and rebound with Albania, that Kosovo and Serbia are experiencing a dangerous period of tension, European leaders and those of Albania, Montenegro, Serbia , Kosovo, North Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina will meet in Slovenia next week, Von der Leyen is the only optimist in this process and yesterday in Tirana he promised that the negotiations of Albania’s accession begins before the end of the year because this country “has clearly fulfilled its obligations in judicial reform and Europe must now fulfill its promise.”

The main problem for the EU in the Balkans is that while from Brussels the internal situation in these countries is observed with distrust, on the ground there are other external interests that take positions. Russia, Turkey, the United States, and even Iran are spreading their tentacles in this region. After a legislature in which it was decided freeze the enlargement process, the Von der Leyen Commission gave the go-ahead last year to the start of negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, but Bulgaria has decided to veto its neighbor, with whom it practically shares language and history, over an irresolvable dispute over interpretation. of certain events and the assignment of some historical figures of the last century. Neither Von der Leyen in Tirana or in Skopje, where he traveled yesterday afternoon, nor his spokesmen in Brussels were able to clarify yesterday if they are going to separate the negotiations and start earlier with the Albanians while the Norwegians clarify with the Bulgarians or if they are going to keep the lock for both of us.

Nor does the situation in northern Kosovo help, where tensions have been rekindled with the Serbian minority and with Serbia itself, which sent warplanes to fly over the area. This Wednesday, representatives from Belgrade and its former province are scheduled to meet in Brussels to try to reduce tensions. Today Von der Leyen will also be in Pristina, where in addition to the institutional meetings he will visit projects financed by the EU. In the afternoon he will go to Podgorica, where he plans to meet with the President of Montenegro and at the last minute he will go to Belgrade to meet with the President, Aleksandar Vucic, and the Prime Minister, Ana Brnacic. The last country Von der Leyen will visit is Bosnia, where he will attend the opening ceremony of the Svilaj bridge that connects that country with Croatia, together with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic.

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