Balkans Await Germany’s ‘Return’ Under New Merkel Govt

While Angela Merkel’s political deal with the Social Democrats, the SDP, awaits final approval, experts on the Balkans predict that the new coalition will not make major changes towards the Balkans, but some countries might face more pressure to carry out internal reforms.

A Senior Associate of the Democratization Policy Council, Bodo Weber, told BIRN that the new coalition is much like the old one, which ran Germany’s foreign and European policy, including its Western Balkans policy, for most of the last decade.

“In that sense, we can expect continuity in Berlin’s engagement within the EU towards the Western Balkans,” he added.

According to him, that means Germany will remain the lead actor on the EU’s Western Balkan enlargement policy.

“And, with the UK on its way out of the union, it will be increasingly replaced by France as Berlin’s main partner,” he added, referring to the Brexit process.

A so-called “Grand Coalition” between Merkel’s Christian Democrats, CDU, and its sister party, the CSU, with the SPD was agreed on February 7, after months of attempts.

Following an SPD referendum among its members, who will vote on the deal on February 20, it is expected that the SDP will get the post of Foreign Minister.

Weber said that once the new government is in place, the Balkan region should “expect the strong engagement of Berlin in the so-called ‘new phase’ of the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue” – the EU-led talks on normalising relations between Serbia and its former province, whose independence it does not recognise.

 

For more read the full of article at The Balkaninsight

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