Forum Serbia Germany, in cooperation with the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE), with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), continued implementation of the joint initiative “Belgrade dialogue” in order to strengthen Serbia on the road to full membership in European Union, as well as to further strengthen the capacity to implement reforms on this path.
The second “Belgrade Dialogues” which were held on Thursday, 28 May 2015 at the City Hall was marked by the 15th anniversary of bilateral cooperation between Serbia and Germany in the field of sustainable development. This event has again demonstrated its potential to bring together around common themes politicians, businessmen and experts from both countries. Opening speeches and panel discussions, which is directly followed were primarily focused on the problems of sustainable economic development, employment, as well as the “brain drain” phenomenon in Serbia.
Keynote speeches were delivered by Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić and Dr Gerd Mueller, Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development in the Government of the Republic of Germany.
Aleksandar Vucic said that Germany is a key partner for the European course of Serbia, and that along with Italy represents the most important economic partner of this country. As the data show, the amount of trade exchange between Serbia and Germany exceeds 3.2 billion euros; while more than 26 thousand people in Serbia work for companies with majority German ownership. Serbian Prime Minister stressed the importance of the transfer of knowledge, experience and technology in the context of German development aid. He stressed how Serbia remains committed to building stability in the region, despite all the difficulties. Vucic added that Germany played a key role in the establishment of better cooperation between the countries of the Western Balkans through the promotion of their networking infrastructure. Vucic expressed appreciation for the assistance and expressed his willingness to continue learning and improving the partnership between the two countries, as well as the expectation that Serbia due to its progress and a positive balance of visit even larger number of German investors.
Gerd Mueller, the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development said in his opening remarks stressed the central role of peace and stability for the achievement of economic and business pitches. He added that Serbia, as the largest country in the region, has a special responsibility to build good neighborly relations and the continuation of the development in the Balkans. Miller also noted that the forthcoming visit of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Serbia is a clear indication that, after 15 years of successful cooperation between the two countries, Germany remains as a strong economic partner of Serbia, and a reliable friend on its European path. German Federal Minister noted that Serbia, if they carry out planned reforms, has become an ideal ground for business investment and a large number of German companies. Miller pointed out that it is necessary to provide perspective for the greatest potential Serbia – young people. He further cooperation between Serbia and Germany observes multilayered, in their various areas among which are education, the economy, ecology and culture but.
When opening the panel discussion “Experiences in German-Serbian Cooperation”, Sonja Licht, President of the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence said that investment in education and sustainable development gives hope that the whole enlargement process will be going at a faster pace.
Sanja Popovic Pantic emphasized the role of women entrepreneurship as an important integral part of sustainable development. She believes that for women entrepreneurs the most significant support comes not only in the form of material resources, but also the skills and practical examples, and all this in order to increase competitiveness. President of the Association of Business Women of Serbia pointed out that with the help of the German Agency for International Cooperation held its first public hearing on women entrepreneurs in the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.
Alexander Starcevic, Director of “Public Heating Company” Zrenjanin shared the positive experience in the operations of his company, which has implemented the reconstruction of entire system with the expert assistance of GIZ, in accordance with the feasibility study prepared by the KfW. He pointed out that Zrenjanin is now an example of good practice, as biomass used to produce heat and electricity, and to prepare and energy crops on an area of 1000 hectares in order to provide energy for green energy.
Biljana Vrzić, Deputy Head of “Vojvodina Investment Promotion” and alumni of the Foundation Zoran Djindjic program said that these scholarships provide to young people a sort of business and life experience. She pointed out that German investments and companies operating in Vojvodina offer opportunities for young people who are on training or internship abroad to return and work in an stimulating environment.
Marko Čadež, President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce pointed out that over the 15 years of cooperation between Serbia and Germany were the projects that were best planned, but that the people of Serbia have learned what kind of help they need, and that cooperation is indispensable. He said that the PKS has realized the need to support initiatives such as the Foundation Zoran Djindjic. Čadež noted that it is important to reform the education system in Serbia, so that the economy is involved in this process, and to offer young people the best possible prospects for employment.
Bojan Predojević, Chairman of the Board of the Forum Serbia Germany stressed the importance of establishing a stable political framework is a fundamental prerequisite for the improvement of the economy and business. To promote good neighborly relations in the region under the supervision of Germany Predojević sees as a step in the right direction. On European integration is seen as the most important strategic orientation of Serbia, which can ensure the strengthening of economic policy, which is a precondition for the improvement of other sectoral policies. Chairman of the Board of the Forum Serbia Germany considers that before SRBJ great deal of administrative reform, improvement of the atmosphere of security and predictability, fighting corruption and strengthening the entrepreneurial spirit.
Report prepared by Bogdan Urosevic, BFPE
Photos copyright Forum SN/Aleksandar Andjic 2015