Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser wants to limit irregular migration via the so-called Balkan route with the Western Balkans. However, "no quick solutions can be expected," the SPD politician dampened expectations on Thursday after a meeting with her counterparts from 16 other countries in Berlin.
That's why she made the suggestion to meet more often for consultations. The participants agreed that a new meeting should be scheduled after six months rather than after a year.
The necessary measures included aligning the visa policy with the rules of the European Union and effectively securing the EU's external borders, with the support of the border protection agency Frontex. With a view to taking in people fleeing war and persecution, the minister also emphasized: "We stand by our humanitarian responsibility - together."
Assist Western Balkan countries with repatriation
EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said this year there have been three times as many arrivals and attempts to enter the EU via the Western Balkans route as in previous years. "We really must and can do more in this area and it is very closely linked to fighting organized crime," Johansson said. In addition, the Western Balkan countries are to be given more support in returning third-country nationals to their countries of origin.
According to Faeser, the point is not to allow irregular migration to end up harming people who are forced to take these routes under the most adverse circumstances. "And above all, not those who have an enormous need for protection and should find a home here in Germany," said Faeser.
The interior ministers of the governments of Bulgaria, France, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Austria, Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic as well as the United Kingdom as well as representatives of the governments of the six Western Balkan countries Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina were invited to the consultations , Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia. Representatives of the European Union and international and regional bodies and organizations also took part.
The so-called "Berlin Process" is a conference format that former Chancellor Angela Merkel launched in 2014 on the occasion of the first Western Balkans Conference in Berlin. In this context, the foreign ministers also want to meet at the Federal Foreign Office for the conference on the Western Balkans on Friday.