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EUR 7.5 million of EU assistance to Serbia for fight against coronavirus

March 20 2020 | Belgrade

EUR 7.5 million of EU assistance to Serbia for fight against coronavirus

Today, the European Union has provided EUR 7.5 million of assistance to Serbia aimed at strengthening the capacities and supporting activities regarding the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The agreement under which EU assistance is provided to the Serbian Government has been signed by the Minister of European Integration, Jadranka Joksimović, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Sem Fabrizi, and UNDP Resident Representative in Serbia, Francine Pickup.

Joksimović has said that an agreement on the first EUR 7.5 million in grants has been signed, which, under fully expedited procedures, will be used for the procurement of medical equipment.

"Of this amount, EUR 2 million will be spent immediately on the costs of air transport of medical supplies from China and India. We are all working together because the challenges are the same, so there is no room for accusations and criticism of each other. We have to work together because that is the only way we can cope with this global pandemic," Joksimović has said.

She has assessed that, since the beginning of the pandemic that poses a challenge for the entire world, the Government of Serbia has done everything, everyone in their own department, to provide financial support as much as possible for the procurement of medical equipment, medicines, ventilators, and masks.

Joksimović has said that Serbia has shown a high degree of responsibility, but that it is also important for it to cooperate with others and seek help from others in these circumstances.

"We are all in the same boat now, and that may be why our citizens had a feeling and perceived that assistance was not provided to Serbia simultaneously from all sides. Since the first day of the crisis, I have been constantly in contact with Ambassador Fabrizi, as well as with European Commissioner Várhelyi and other European representatives, looking for a way in which the EU could help, whose largest countries are affected by the coronavirus – Italy, France, Germany, Spain, and Austria."

"In that sense, our citizens felt that we were not the ones with whom the talks about assistance were conducted right away, but that does not mean that we were forgotten by anyone – these countries were simply facing huge problems. On the other hand, our country has looked all around to secure any kind of assistance," Joksimović has said.

She has stressed that an agreement on additional EUR 6 million, for the procurement of necessary equipment, is expected to be signed during the following week.

Joksimović has said that the Ministry, in coordination with the Crisis Unit led by the President of Serbia, has drawn up an urgent and priority list of needs, which will be sent to Serbia's partners in the EU in order to use the funds that will be allocated in the most efficient way.

Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi has said that the EU has been donating nearly EUR 200 million annually to Serbia, and that this money is channelled into different areas of the accession process. He has added however that, given the newly arisen circumstances, it has been agreed with the Serbian Government for a part of these funds to be channelled into measures for combating the spread of the coronavirus.

"The signing of today’s agreement is the first example of the reallocation of funds, and with the help of the UNDP we will help Serbia to implement the most urgent measures," Fabrizi has said.

Fabrizi has said that the EU is undertaking measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, boost the production of medical equipment, and work faster on producing the vaccine against the virus, as well as that it is undertaking measures to help the economy withstand the effects of the newly arisen circumstances.

He has stressed that the coronavirus puts all countries into a difficult situation and "tests" not only the healthcare systems, but also the economies of the countries.

As he has said, the virus knows no borders, and that is why it is important for all countries to be responsible and show solidarity, so that they may jointly overcome the current crisis.

"I am glad that I was able to show my solidarity first to Serbia at this moment, and I am grateful that Serbia has shown the same to the EU and my homeland (Italy)," Fabrizi has said.

Source: Tanjug