The meeting, which was also attended by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, took place as part of the Berlin Process. This was launched by Germany in 2014 and is intended to advance the rapprochement of the Western Balkan states with the EU. The group includes Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
A total of four specific agreements were reached, said Scholz. In addition to commitments to more climate protection, the countries would expand their youth cooperation and have signed an agreement on the recognition of professional qualifications. Other topics discussed included the further integration of the Western Balkan region into the EU internal market, the ecological and digital change in the region and dealing with illegal migration via the Balkan route.
With a view to the recent outbreaks of violence in northern Kosovo, the Chancellor called on Kosovo and Serbia for dialogue. “There is no way around regional cohesion and the lasting solution to conflicts that have been simmering for far too long,” said Scholz. This requires noticeable and concrete improvements for everyone who lived in the Western Balkans.
Scholz described the Serbian attacks on police officers in Kosovo as “irresponsible”. At the same time, the governments in Belgrade and Pristina must "endeavour to ensure de-escalation and to ensure that the process that has been agreed and all the agreements that have already been reached are now implemented," said the Chancellor .
At the end of September, the worst escalation in years occurred in northern Kosovo. A police officer was killed in an attack by a Serbian commando on a Kosovo Albanian police patrol. Later, about 30 armed men barricaded themselves in an Orthodox monastery in the village of Banjska. Three armed Serbs were killed in exchanges of fire with police. Serbia then increased its military presence on the border with Kosovo, which sparked international concern.
Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, but Belgrade still considers it a breakaway territory.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on Belgrade and Pristina on Sunday to resume dialogue to normalize relations. "This is the path to a future in which Kosovo and Serbia will be part of the European Union," she said in Tirana.
More than a dozen Serbian civil society organizations had called on Europe to reconsider relations with "autocratic leaders", citing Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. "We call on the European Union, its members and other Western partners to change the current policy of dubious deals with autocratic leaders," said a text released ahead of the summit.
The organizations also called for the continuation of negotiations on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina and the establishment of a dialogue with pro-democracy and pro-European actors in the region. According to them, normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina is not possible without the "introduction of democracy in Serbia."
Serbian President Vucic did not attend the meeting in Tirana. He arrived in Beijing on Monday, where he will take part in the international forum on the so-called New Silk Road and sign a free trade agreement with China. Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin is also expected in Beijing. Serbia will be represented in Tirana by Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.