If the European Union (EU) leaves a vacuum in the Western Balkans, then other forces that do not share the Union's democratic values will enter that vacuum, said Michael Roth, Secretary of State for Europe at the German Foreign Ministry.
He expressed disappointment that there has been no progress in the integration of the Western Balkan countries during Germany's EU presidency in the past six months.
Roth stated that peace, regional reconciliation and democracy in the Western Balkans are of strategic importance to the whole of Europe, especially to the neighborhood.
"We urgently need positive signals for the Western Balkans. Our credibility is called into question. If the EU leaves a vacuum in the Western Balkans, then other forces that do not share the Union's democratic values will enter that vacuum for geostrategic reasons. We are shooting ourselves in the foot," Roth said.
He has said that the EU's reluctance is interpreted as a weakness in a world where authoritarianism becomes stronger, while democracy is under great pressure.
"This is a tragedy for the Balkan countries. The EU must be more present in the emotional perception of the people. In the end, it is Europe's penetration of systemic competition with the authoritarian forces that will anchor in the middle of Europe."