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J. Joksimović: Transport connectivity important primarily for citizens

November 19 2020 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Transport connectivity important primarily for citizens

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has stated today that transport connectivity is important for the economies of Western Balkan partners, as well as for the EU, stressing that it is primarily important for citizens.“Citizens are those who benefit from better connectivity of the transport markets of our countries, and of our countries with EU countries”, said Joksimović after a meeting with Matej Zakonjšek, the Director of the Transport Community Permanent Secretariat.

According to her, Serbia has fought hard to be elected as the seat of the Transport Community, which is important for the Western Balkan region, adding that it is also important because it is the way in which transport markets of the Western Balkans connect with the EU transport market.

She has recalled that the Transport Community comprises 33 countries – all EU member states and six partners from the region, saying that she believes that our citizens can see that it was not only declarative and limited to the documents enacted for the purpose of connectivity and economic growth.

“Citizens could realise that this means that we will primarily have lower prices of goods we purchase, because when physical barriers and long lines of trucks at border crossings are removed, the prices will be lower, we will have safer traffic without congestion on motorways and reduced air pollution”, said Joksimović.

The Minister and Zakonjšek have discussed, from a strategic aspect, all future projects that can be financed from EU funds, both from pre-accession funds and from the Western Balkans Investment Framework, all within the Economic and Investment Plan for the WB, presented recently by Commissioner Várhelyi in Belgrade.

Joksimović has said that Serbia has realised numerous projects related to transport infrastructure and that it is still implementing some of them from the 2014–2020 IPA perspective, adding that, for them, Serbia has received significant EU grants, and that it has submitted an application for five important transport projects to be financed from 2021–2022 IPA perspective.

“This has not yet been agreed and finalised with the European Commission, but it is important that we have done our part. We have additionally proposed projects for the Economic and Investment Plan for the WB through the transport connectivity agenda, which are worth over EUR 1 billion, and thus have shown how much we prioritise transport connectivity among people and economies”, stressed the Minister.

She has added that the final list of projects has not yet been agreed upon, adding the adoption of the EU budget is still pending, which is also linked to the Economic and Investment Plan for the WB. However, the Minister hopes that the budget will contain the lines designated for growth investments and that Serbia will implement the projects that will bring benefits to all Serbian citizens, wherever they may live.

The interlocutors have agreed that special focus will be placed on projects related to railway lines and railway traffic, which are the cleanest and safest form of transport and which are best connected to the green agenda.

Joksimović has thanked Zakonjšek for the initiative he has been demonstrating ever since he assumed the position of the head of the Transport Community in Belgrade, conveying that he will have full support of the Ministry of European Integration, so that together they would shed light on issues that sometimes seem abstract to citizens, but that impact the quality of their life, which is the goal of European integration.

Zakonjšek has agreed that the signing of the Transport Community Agreement is crucial not only for the region, but also for the entire EU, because it has been proven that, when the region cooperates, it does it quite well.

He has said that the meeting with Minister Joksimović happened at the right time, immediately after the Sofia Summit and the adoption of the EC Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans.

There is now a political momentum, and there are clear political priorities for our cooperation, said Zakonjšek, adding that he agrees with Joksimović’s assessment that this is not only about building roads, but about connecting people, which he sees as the essence of all political agreements that have been reached.

“This is about safer roads, and these are the matters we will cooperate on. It is about connecting the region better through railway connectivity, it is about reducing waiting time on borders on borders, both for the economy, for citizens and for tourists, and this is the area where we have concrete projects”, said Zakonjšek.

He has thanked Joksimović and said that he hopes that numerous projects will be successfully implemented together with her and her team.

Source: Tanjug