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J. Joksimović: Serbia committed to close cooperation with diaspora

June 16 2021 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Serbia committed to close cooperation with diaspora

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has stressed today that Serbia is committed and that it is seriously and responsibly working on creating favourable business opportunities and conditions for close and strong cooperation with Serbian diaspora.

According to her, within the project ‘Link Up!’, which should lay the ground for more extensive engagement of Serbian diaspora across Europe in addressing regional challenges and growth, Serbia placed special focus on vulnerable groups and categories, such as women entrepreneurship and Roma population.

At the online conference ‘Improving cooperation with business diaspora in Austria, Switzerland and Germany’, Joksimović has explained that the idea was to additionally popularise and research the topic of cooperation with business diaspora and the possibility of return and investment in Serbia, and to come up with new opportunities.

According to her, this stemmed from the fact that times are changing, which was best evidenced by the previous and this year, when the whole world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

She has noted that the project, implemented with partners from Austria, aims at providing direct support to projects related to the entrepreneurial sector in Serbia.

“Serbia, which has been going through a long process of transformation of our social relations, adjusting to European and global developments, has added a special value with regard to education and scientists, artists, sportspeople, and that is what is in focus nowadays – bearers of innovation and change at the global level, and in that sense, Serbia has entered the current of change”, said Joksimović.

The Minister has stressed that, despite all the good economic indicators Serbia has maintained, and resilience and flexibility to the shocks that hit the whole of Europe, a new question arises for Serbia, the countries of the region, as well as for EU member states, and that is how to additionally attract not only Serbian people and talents from diaspora, but also the best capacities for inclusive growth, which the main topic of the EU’s post-pandemic recovery.

She has recalled that Serbia’s national reform plan for the period 2021–2023 also recognises improvement of the business environment, and support and monitoring of circular and economic migration as some of the greatest challenges within one of the key reforms in the area of employment and labour market.

Noting that a significant number of people who decided to return to Serbia was recorded in 2020 and 2021, Joksimović has said that the promotion of tax and other incentives related to employment is planned for the purpose of encouraging return, through communication with the economic sector and with returnees.

As regards European Integration and Serbia’s cooperation with regional development agencies, Joksimović has said that the existing network of regional development agencies can be identified and mapped as an important tool for what will be the most important segment of cluster 5, which is the preparation for regional policy and transition to EU cohesion funds and cohesion policy.

She has recalled that Serbia, as an EU candidate country, receives support from the EU for all those programmes in the form of pre-accession funds.

“So far, we have had access to around EUR 200 million in grants annually”, said the Minister.

She has added that Serbia has a lot of experience and a serious mechanism for using pre-accession funds, which, according to her, is crucial for the preparation for a smooth transition to cohesion funds, which will happen in a few years, when Serbia becomes a full EU member.

The Minister has noted that Serbia expects stronger signals from the EU by the end of the year, because this must happen in order for the credible enlargement policy to make sense.

“Development agencies are an important instrument for mapping resources at the local and regional level and for collecting necessary data. It is clear how important this project is in the regional sense, for the Western Balkan region, which we have shown through the ‘mini Schengen’ initiative, while the idea of that regional cooperation was to facilitate economic activity and everyday life of our citizens” said Joksimović.

The ‘Link Up!’ project is financed by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) in the amount of more than EUR 1.5 million, where the Ministry of European Integration is the national partner. The project is aimed at utilising the potentials of diaspora in overcoming obstacles at the domestic market and access to the foreign market.

Source: Tanjug