Germany has prepared “a special program for the Western Balkans” – as compensation for the long wait of the region’s countries to join the EU, writes a daily.
Citing diplomatic sources, Vecernje Novosti is reporting that Berlin has prepared a “mini Marshall Plan” for the Balkans, which should over the next few years boost the economies in the region.
This proposal will soon be on the table of the European Council in Brussels, which should approve it and set up a special fund for the Balkan countries.
The aforementioned plan is called “Berlin Plus” – but the money for its implementation should, among other sources, come from the European Economic Area (EEA) consisting of all EU member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, as well as the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), where Switzerland is also a member.
The figures are not yet known, because donor campaigns are yet to be organized, but, due to the volume of the projects, “they should certainly be significant,” writes the paper.
“The idea is to quickly, within a couple of years, create an attractive economic area out of our region,” continued the article.
The funds could also, among other things, be used to establish new companies.
Vecernje Novosti writes that one of the goals is to network the Western Balkans with infrastructure such as highways that would connect Serbia with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Belgrade with Tirana, via Pristina.
The European Union would in this way “obtain skilled workers and a technologically prepared region, while the goal is to, by increasing the standard of the Western Balkans, bring it closer to the European partners.”
The intention is to in this way “skip” the uncertain period of the next few years in which the EU, pressed by numerous crises, does not intend to continue enlarging.
A strong reason to activate the “Berlin plus” is also to reduce tensions in the region, says the daily.
For Germany, the Western Balkans is of great importance security-wise, according to the article. The opportunity to do something more concrete in terms of the “Berlin Plus” plan will present itself in mid-July, when the regular annual summit dedicated to the western Balkans will be held in Trieste, Italy, writes Vecernje Novosti.