Merkel from Belgrade: We aim for membership, but the Balkans have a long way to go towards the EU
Before arriving in Tirana tomorrow, Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Belgrade where she had a meeting and a conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
Merkel said one of Germany's goals is to see the six Western Balkan states join the European Union, but added that all countries have a "long way to go".
Merkel added that the issue of recognizing Kosovo's independence, when it comes to Serbia, is an issue that will be resolved at the end of a process.
"Some issues will be resolved at the end of a process. Everyone knows that some EU member states have not recognized Kosovo. The issue needs to be resolved. "It makes no sense to talk about completing a process before the other things are resolved and then the whole process."
While Vucic said that officials in Serbia know that resolving the Kosovo issue is a condition for Serbia's EU membership.
"I will not deny our knowledge of the terms of EU membership. As you hear from Prishtina that they have their own Constitution, so do we have our own Constitution, to which we adhere. We are ready for compromise, for a compromise solution. "If we are asked whether we are aware that we will not be an EU member state before the issue is resolved, we are aware ," Vucic said.
He reiterated that he is not in for a frozen conflict when it comes to relations between Serbia and Kosovo, and added that he is open to dialogue and compromise solutions.
"But it must be a compromise, not destructive for Serbia."
On Tuesday, Merkel will be in Tirana, where she is expected to meet with the prime ministers of six Western Balkan countries: Albania, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, northern Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
German government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said that "in addition to bilateral talks, regional co-operation will be an important topic" of Merkel's two-day trip.
After 16 years in power, Merkel will leave the post of chancellor at the end of her fourth term, respectively after the September 26 elections in Germany.
Her visit to the Balkans also comes ahead of the next EU-Balkans summit, to be held in October.