H.E. PHILIPPE GUEX, Ambassador of Switzerland to Serbia: MAIN CHALLENGES – NEIGHBORS AND THE PAST

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In the past two years, Diplomacy&Commerce magazine has given to its readers abundance of news from politics, business and culture, has reported on the opinions of relevant stakeholders both from Serbia and abroad, covering all segments of life, and opened up topics that were not written or talked about enough. With its latest issue, Diplomacy&Commerce is celebrating its second anniversary in Serbia. We are very proud of the fact that, in two years and 24 issues, we have managed to interview the leaders of the Serbian political, business and diplomatic community, as well as the renowned regional and the global public figures. In these past 24 issues, we have also published special supplements dedicated to overall relations between Serbia and European and world countries.

We have asked Serbian officials – Serbian PM, government ministers, ambassadors and representatives of business associations in Serbia – to give us their opinions about the most important changes that Serbia should make in order to become an EU member, and about the investment climate in the West Balkan region.

1 To my view Serbia will have to tackle two main challenges. First, key outstanding issues with its neighbors will have to be solved, ranging from border issues to legacy of the past. Most importantly, it will have to cut the Kosovo Gordon knot by concluding a legally binding agreement with the authorities in Pristina. Second, Serbia will need to improve substantially the rule of law, which should materialize by the establishment of an impartial, independent and efficient judiciary. Improving the rule of law should also contribute to create an adequate environment for journalists work and to guarantee the independence of media. I want to highlight that reforms undertaken by Serbia in the context of its European integration should be undertaken not to please Brussels but for its own sake and for the one of its citizens.

2 Serbia and the region in general have actually already proven their capacity to attract some large multinational companies, including from Switzerland – Nestlé Adriatic is a case in point. Key already existing attraction factors include: the proximity and connexion to European markets; the availability of a relatively well-educated and affordable labour-force; and a visibly increasing „ease of doing business“ which includes significant progress in the field of digitalization. Macro-economic stability is also an essential consideration for large multinationals and in this respect, Serbia is certainly the most attractive country for foreign investors in the region. Improving legal predictability are undoubtfully sine qua non preconditions for both domestic and international investors alike. And you get predictability by improving rule-of-law, guaranteeing judicial independence, fighting against corruption and making the tax administration transparent, issues where countries from the region including Serbia are still lagging behind.

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