NEWS | 01.06.2017 22:25

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel Publishes New Plan for Balkans - Berlin Plus

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has publicized a new plan for the Western Balkans the Berlin Plus agenda, to additionally encourage the Berlin Process with the goal of making the region an attractive economic space, while bringing the local population something visibly better.

Gabriel presented the Berlin Plus agenda which envisages additional efforts, but also extra funds to speed up the region's progress to the EU in Berlin at a May 31 conference with his colleagues from the Western Balkans at the Aspen Institute.

The director of the project for the Balkans at the European Institute in Nice, Tobias Flessenkemper, who attended the conference in Berlin, told EurActiv Serbia that such initiatives were welcome, but that the question was how much could be changed in a short time.

"Although the 'Berlin Plus' plan is good, the present moment requires a 'Berlin squared' for the results to be faster and bigger. In the summer of 2014 governments predicted 'four years until realistic progress' and these four years are expiring in 15 months," Flessenkemper said.

The conference in Berlin, he said, was held in light of the events in the Western Balkan countries which have been stamped as a threat to stability in the region.

The Berlin Plus plan proposes, among other things, the formation of a fund for infrastructure and technology which members of the EU, European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and European Economic Area (EEA) could be donors for.

It also envisages Germany directing its instruments for cooperation and development to suit the region's needs, including the establishing of special funds for startups, expert training and the development of IT infrastructure.


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