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22 July 2021 President Vučić: We have decided - our goal is the EU, but China is an important partner

We have decided - our goal was and remains the EU, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in an interview with the German daily "Handelsblatt", adding that there is no alternative for Serbia, but also stressing that China is an important partner for Serbia, and that the task of the state is to take care about the interests of its citizens.           

He thus answered the question of what Serbia will choose once it has to choose between close relations with Beijing or the EU. Vucic emphaized that Serbia wants to become a full member of the EU.             

"We are connected by history, common culture, EU members are already undoubtedly our most important partners", he explained and added that the trade exchange between Germany and China is 3,000 times higher than between Serbia and China, and, as he noted, even despite that, Serbia's business operations with China are portrayed as a problem.               

To the statement that the German Chancellor Agela Merkel did not congratulate the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China, and that he did so, he replied that Serbia is not Germany, but a small country. On additional insistence on what Serbia will do if it has to choose between the EU and China, he underlined that Serbia has already decided, that its goal was and remains the EU membership.                         

"Our biggest investors are from the EU. The EU accounts for 67% of our trade while 17 percent of the trade is with countries of the region that are all on the way to the EU. We cannot survive without the EU", he added.      

"But can we do a lot of good things with China - of course. And we do that, just like Germany does", Vucic pointed out, and to the remark that the quality of the Silk Road projects was being criticized, primarily because o Chines workers, he answered that the quality of roads or bridges, which Serbia is building with China, is excellent.           

"We give jobs to those who submit the best offer o us. That is why I tell Europeans who criticize Chinese projects in our country - offer us a project or one euro more and you vill get it", he emphasized.               

In that regard, he pointed out that Serbia is building a railway to Northern Macedonia with 600 million euros of EU aid, stating that taht offer was better than China's.                   

"There is often talk of a 180-kilometer railway to Budapest through the territory of Serbia, which is financed by China. But the railway that is being built with the help of the EU from Belgrade to the northern Macedonian border is twice as long and no one is talking about it. It is all too political", he stated.                     

Asked whether he welcomes the plans of the EU and the USA regarding an alternative initiative to the Silk Road, Vucic said that he supports everything that brings advantages to  our region.         

"The Chinese want to expand their presence everywhere, but many processes in the West are, frankly, more efficient and without problems. We still have a lot to learn from the West, but we are getting there ", Vucic said.        

He pointed out that China was an important partner for Serbia and added that when the consolidation of state finances began in 2014, our country received god conditons from China for development projects.       

He also stated that a competition for a copper mine was announced in eastern Serbia, at the request of the EU, that no European company had made an offer fo six months, and that it had then been taken over by the Chinese.                

"Our job is to take care of our people", he said.                   

He reminded that the Serbian economy grew by 52% in eight and a galf years, which for the EU means that Serbia could be a strong member and engine for the entire region.                      

He reminded that previosly the public debt was at 78% of GDP, and that today it has been reduced, thanks to the strong growth of the economy, to 52%.          

"We can afford to give investors an incentive to come". he added, emphasizing that Serbia offers investment assistance, but that, for example, subsidies were not the motive for the rrival of the development center of the company Continental.                    

He pointed out that, five or six years ago, only Serbia started using the dual education system in this region, which Germany, Switzezrland and Austria also use, that tens of thousands of people are in dual education, and that this is appreciated by foreign investors, who, in addition, can work closely with universities as well.                   

Germany, he stated, is the most important trade partner and the largest investor.           

"We started with the arrival of small textile companies from Turkey, and now primarily large German companies are coming. Today, 71,000 people work in German companies in Serbia", he explained.                           

Vucic said that the European perspective is very important for investors, stating that Nidek, Toyo Tires or Mitsubishi are coming from Japan to Serbia because our country is on a stable European path.                   

Asked if he believes that Serbia will become an EU member in the foreseeable future, he said that he does not complain.                

"It is certain that if we had received 45 billion euros of EU aid, we would have been much further economically. Instead, we received 1.6 billion euros from the EU. We are used to achieving our successes on our own", said Vucic.                 

The President of Serbia reminded that in Croatia, salaries used to be 2.2 time higher than in Serbia, and today they are only 1.7 times higher.                     

"We are closing the gap with our own efforts. If we were to become a member of the EU, then we would certainly not ask for the biggest subsidies", he assures.                   

He said that the Serbian path follws the German path to Europe, and that Serbia wants a fair chance.               

"I believe Merkel's words. She is at the end of her term and I would not have to praise her anymore. But she gave us stability, freedom of travel to the EU, helped us wth the migrant crisis in 2015, and asked the Minister of Economy Altmeier and others to work closely with us", he reminded.                

Asked if there were any indications tht the new German government would support Serbia in the same way, Vucic expressed confidence that it would be the same.                  

"I know Armin Laschet, I talked to him shile he was the Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia. Hi is very smart and understands the situation in the Balkans, and he will certainly continue Merkel's policy towards our region as the new chancellor", he added.        

Vucic also expressed his belief that Russia, if Serbia's accession to the EU were concretized, would not react similarly as in the case of Ukraine, as this is a sovereign decision of Serbia.               

To an additional question in this regard, Vucic pointed out that whenever he met with Vladimir Putin, and there were 18 or 19 meetings, he told him that he was grateful for the traditionaly close friendship with Russia, but also that Serbia is on a clear course towards the EU.        

"He asked if it was oru choice and I answered that EU membership is indeed our goal", he added.        

When it comes to "Kosovo", Vucic emphasized that a compromise is needed regarding this issue.                 

"Only in this way can there b sustainable peace. Serbia wants peace, me as well. Let's stop with the madness of the past. Only then can the whole region become the engine of new growth for Europe", said Vucic.

 

Source: Tanjug


20 July 2021 Serbia has achieved great success in the field of digitalization

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, Ana Brnabic, stated at a gathering dedicated to digitalization and the IT sector, which was held in New York, that since she became Prime Minister, she is most proud of Serbia's success in the field of digitalization.                           

Brnabic, who is on two-day visit to the United States, said that when she was elected Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government in August 2016, she wanted to do everything to change the public administration and what bothered her as a citizen.            

She stated that, when she took office as Prime Minister, she knew what her priorities were and that first of all, digitalization needed to be raised to a higher level, that the education reform was supposed to begin, as well as work on strengthening the economy.             

I believed in a country that believes in its people, because the Serbian people are creative.From 1 June 2017, we started working as an e-Govenment, i.e. we started exchanging data electronically, said the Prime Minister.               

According to her, our citizens no longer had to go to, say, the Tax Administration, and since then, the public administration has exchanged 50 million documents, which means that citizens did not have to go from office to office for 50 million papers.        

Brnabic pointed out that she is proud of what has been done in the field of education since she became the head of the Government, specifying that in September 2017, programming was introduced as a compulsory subject in primary schools.                  

Nobody believed that we could do that, but we cooperated ith the private sector and some social rganizations and we succeeded. At the moment, we are far ahead of numerous countries in Europe and the world, said the Prime Minister.                

The Prime Minister pointed out that she was most proud when the cornerstone was laid for the science and technology park in southern Serbia, niting that so far, our country has four science and technology parks.              

She pointed out that Serbia has since become one of the most successful countries n the world in the field of technology, and that according to some parameters, it is among the ten countries in the world, or among the five, assessing that this is proof that the country can change quickly.            

Answering the question about vaccination, the Prime Minister emphasized that our country has neer seen it as a geopolitical issue, but as a health issue.           

Accordint to her, Serbia talked with producers from both the East and West and was amog the first European countries to sign agreements with the company Pfizzer-BioNTech and Sinopharm.            

Unfortunately, many countries have viewed this issue as geopolitical. It did not matter to us, as long as the vaccines were safe, the Prime Minister emphasized and added that this was not the end of Serbia's success, because good organization was also needed.              

Brnabic explained that the organization is another important thing in vaccination, because it is a logistically very difficult process, adding that, with the help of digitalization, success has been achieved and that everything we did in the previous years has paid off.            

She stated that Serbia quickly estabilished a system through which citizens could express interest in vaccination against the coronavirus and choos which vaccine they wanted to receive, as well as to bi informed by a message when to go and get vaccinated.             

Now I can log in on my phone, to see how many people have received the vaccine, how many more have registered, so that the efrects  of digitalization are obvious. Ee have made everything very efficient and easy for our citizens, the Prime Minister explained.                  

Answering the question of what she can tell other countries of the world about how to progress faster, Brnabic said that it is important to invest as much as possible in digitalization and education.          

You need to teach children how to think, not what to think. Not all children will become IT experts, but what they can learn is an algorithmic way of thinking and how to make decisions, she said.                 

The Prime Minister mentioned investing in high-speed internet and providing infrastructure for start-ups as an important thing for progress, because more and more economies will be based on start-ups and innovations, emphasizing that people should be helped to start companies and implement their ideas.        

Speaking about social networks, she pointed out that fake news has become the biggest problem on these networks and that it will remain so for some time.               

This is the biggest challenge I face as Prime Minister, especially during the corona virus pandemic, she said, adding that social networks are also a great opportunity for politicians to communicate with citizens.

 

Source: www.srbija.gov.rs

Photo: www.srbija.gov.rs


29th June 2021 President Vučić participates in the Mini Schengen conference

President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić participated today via a video link in the conference "Mini Schengen" with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Albania, Edi Rama, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of North Macedonia, Zoran Zaev. The officials discussed further steps in regional cooperation, as a process vital to the progress of the Western Balkans and the European path as a whole.                  

The interlocutors agreed that the countries of the Western Balkans need membership in the European Union, but also that the European Union needs the Western Balkans just as much since the region is surrounded by EU borders and the countries aspiring to membership share common European values.               

The President of Serbia and the Prime Ministers of Albania and North Macedonia have expressed the wish that the four European freedoms - the movement of people, goods, services and capital, begin to be implemented as soon as possible throughout the region, and that in this context they will provide full support to the regional common market at the Berlin Process Summit to be held on the 5th July.           

"We are aware that only by working together and accepting regional cooperation within various regional initiatives such asthe common market, regional Schengen, green corridors or the Berlin Process, can we bring our economies closer, increase the well-being of our people and bring in large investments that would otherwise not be possible for any of us individually", is one of the joint conclusions of this video conference.              

The interlocutors agreed to meet in Skopje on July 29th to review the progress in the implementation of existing initiatives and projects and to sign additional agreements between the thre countries related to the implementation of the Berlin Process commitments, as well as cooperation and assistance in the event of natural disasters and relief measures for trade, export and import.               

"We call on and encourage our colleagues from the region to sign and implement similar agreements, so that the vision of a common political and economic space across the Western Balkans would soon, through the single market, become and important part of our citizens' daily lives", said the Serbian President and Prime Ministers of Albania and North Macedonia.                 

The interlocutors pointed out that despite the delays in the enlargement process, they will continue to try to identify new ways, policy areas and financial instruments for all three countries to increase their contribution to Europe, strengthen ties with the European Union and gradually integrate the region into the single European market.            

Speaking on the Green Agenda, the interlocutors issued a joint call to the European Union and the United States to join countries across the region to support the development of projects that could be invested as soon as possible to improve environmental protection and increase the widespread use of renewables as part of the EU Economic and Investment Plan implementation and the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans.                

"Our countries have a huge potential for sustainable growth and development of this sector. We will ask for practical support to find out which projects can improve our region in terms of renewable energy sources for our citizens and for the green energy future of the EU", said the interlocutors during the "Mini Schengen" video conference and concluded that only regional connecting, with the EU support, can contribute to the overall stability and progress of the entire region and Europe.

Source: www.predsednik.rs

Photo: www.predsednik.rs


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