Balkan summit: Does the EU have a plan?

Merkel and Macron have brought the representatives of eight Balkan states together in Berlin with the aim of making progress in the dispute between Serbia and Kosovo. Also in attendance was EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Federica Mogherini, who recently proposed a land swap as a way of resolving the issue. Berlin is against this solution, and rightly so, commentators say, asking what Europe's strategy for the Balkan region is.

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Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Don't open Pandora's box

Der Tagesspiegel finds the German government's opposition to the land swap between Serbia and Kosovo entirely understandable:

“This border correction is supported to release ethnic groups from their minority role and allocate them to the ethnic majority in the other country. But not just for Angela Merkel this redrawing of the border would be like opening up Pandora's box, because similar conflicts are simmering elsewhere in Europe too. The most prominent example is Hungary, which lost more than half its territory after the First World War due to the redrawing of borders. This trauma still weighs heavily on Hungarian politics and southeastern Europe today.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Other states must keep their paws off the Balkans

Večernji list takes the view that the Balkan summit is an attempt by the European Union to limit US influence:

“Every time the European axis Germany-France gets active on the West Balkans and southeastern Europe - a region whose designation we can't even agree on - the focus is on 'external' influences, particularly that of the US, Turkey and Russia. When it gets the feeling that these powers are trying to get their paws on the Balkan region, either in a dissimulated manner or completely openly, Europe decides it needs to take action. Because the status quo is the most dangerous situation: on the surface things are calm but underneath tensions are simmering.”

Večer (SI) /

The EU in a quandary

At last the EU is showing some interest in the Balkans, Večer comments:

“The meeting with the heads of state from the so-called Western Balkan countries demonstrates a new strategy on Europe's part. Europe has woken up and is taking action to prevent Russia and the US from getting there first. ... So what has changed that Europe is now sitting up and taking notice of the Balkans? Above all, both Russia and China have started to make inroads into the strategically and economically important Peninsula. ... The trouble, however, is that the EU still has no idea what it should undertake with the Balkans. It fears instability in the region on the one hand, and expansion on the other. Above all in these times when far-right parties are on the advance.”