The highest Serbian state officials, representatives of the province of Vojvodina, economists and leading business people met at the National Parliament to analyse the current economic environment in Serbia, the investment climate and the future steps that await Serbia in the next year.
Serbian Parliament Speaker, Maja Gojkovic said on the occasion that aligning Serbia’s foreign policy in with national priorities, fostering military neutrality, with strong and sustainable economic growth, are the most important tasks in 2019.
In her speech at the beginning of the parliamentary conference organised by The Economist, Gojkovic underlined that, regardless of the major, structural and essential difficulties facing EU members, Serbia remained committed to the EU integration processes.
“We would also like to express hope that the EU will succeed in reaffirming its enlargement policy. The unclear prospects for membership of candidate countries has a major negative impact on developments in the Western Balkans region – primarily in terms of growing nationalism and radicalisation of the political scene in many countries of the region,” Gojkovic warned.
She added that the EU has to firmly stand behind the principles underlying the European political architecture, the initiatives such as the Berlin Process and the agreements such as CEFTA.
Regarding the situation in the region, Gojković noted that, in some parts, retrograde processes, meaning realization of individual interests at the expense of others and at the expense of stability and cooperation in the whole region, were becoming stronger.
“In addition, efforts to impose unilateral and violent solutions are, as a rule, directed against the interests of Serbia and the Serbian people,” Gojkovic said.
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As one of the key issues to be dealt with, Gojkovic cited the problems with Kosovo and Metohija, and added that, lately, there has been a better understanding of Serbia’s position and its arguments regarding this issue.
According to her, this was illustrated by “a series of countries withdrawing their recognition of the so-called Kosovo and Pristina’s failure to become a member of international organizations (UNESCO, Interpol).”
“Instead of understanding the advantages of dialogue, by defending secessionism and the politics of the final act, Pristina has resorted intensification and escalation of the problem, namely the acts of violence and provocations, of which the latest is the absurd and discriminatory 100% tax on goods from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the announcement of the formation of the so-called ‘army of Kosovo’, both contrary to international law and regional agreements,” said Gojkovic.
As she pointed out, Pristina thus endangers not only the Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija, the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, and the development and processes of Serbia’s integration, but also the entire regional architecture of stability.
“In this context, open calls for and concrete steps towards the unification of Albania and Kosovo are not only a very serious threat to the stability of the region, but they may even reveal the real truth behind the current moves by Pristina and Tirana,” Gojkovic went on to say.
Vulin: Numerous security challenges for Serbia in 2019
Year 2019 will be difficult for Serbia, with numerous security challenges – Serbian Defence Minister, Aleksandar Vulin said, adding that, among other things, the superpowers will demand from small countries like Serbia to clearly take sides.
“This will be the year in which we will face many security challenges, the year in which an army will be created, a year in which the migrant crisis will not grow but also not diminish, and the year in which the superpowers will demand from small nations, like Serbia, to clearly take sides, although the Serbian people have decided that they will never take sides anymore or be a part of big upheavals”, Vulin said.
Developing winning innovation companies
“In the future, Serbia can provide the best possible environment for the winning innovation companies”, said the Minister of Innovation and Technological Development, Nenad Popovic.
Popovic also said that Serbia closely follows the relevant processes in Europe and directs its development policy towards building a smart industry that will create new value in the global market.
Popovic mentioned the launch of the train car production in Kragujevac recently in partnership with Siemens, one of the most renowned German and world companies.
“This is a great combination of Serbian engineering potential, great investment conditions created by our government and technological knowledge that Siemens brings to Serbia,” Popovic said, adding that there is enough reason to be satisfied since more new jobs have been created, especially those in “smart” hi-tech sector.
He pointed out that Serbia has powerful educational resources, since its engineers are the driving force behind every industry, and that he is very optimistic in this aspect.
“I can confidently say that Serbia is the leading engineering force in the Balkans,” Popovic went on to say, adding that Serbia has been focusing its development programs on the knowledge, innovation and innovative entrepreneurship industry.
He also said that Serbia’s future lies in artificial intelligence, robotics and digitized production, and that Serbia understands innovation as an economic category.
Popovic announced that the implementation of innovation development programmes and bolstering the innovation capacities of the Serbian economy and society would continue in 2019, and that the budget for the next year envisages higher allocations for the development of the most valuable resource – knowledge.
“We are continuing with the construction of innovative and scientific-technological parks in Novi Sad and Nis, as well as the industrial park in Borca,” Popovic concluded.
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