Vojvodinian First Minister Igor Mirović stressed in Vienna that Serbia has made significant progress in implementing reforms and creating the most favourable conditions for investment, and that the whole policy of the Government of Vojvodina is focused on economic development. Here is his speech.
Dear Mr. Lensky, Honoured Mrs. Gross, Excellency, Honoured Businessmen, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great honour to be able to address you at this gathering, which I see as yet another important step in deepening good co-operation and even greater rapprochement between our two countries.
Allow me at the outset to be happy to conclude that the period during which this conference is held is one of the best in the history of relations between Serbia and Austria. This is the fruit of a wise and consistent policy of the leadership of our countries, as well as recognising a multitude of common interests that promise that, in the coming times, mutual cooperation will be even better.
Serbia has clearly defined its European path and is consistently pursuing it. This road, of course, is not without barriers, so any help and support in their overcoming is valuable. One of our strongest and most reliable allies and friends on the European path – both in Brussels and in every other relevant place – is Austria.
Therefore, dear friends, I am also using this opportunity to express my gratitude to your country and its leadership for the support they provide to Serbia on its reform and the path of Eurointegration.
In the last few years, my country has undergone a series of difficult reforms and, after a number of bad years, stepped into the sphere of economic prosperity. This is evidenced by the successfully concluded arrangement with the International Monetary Fund, the remarkable progress on the long list of business listings at the 47th position of the ranking list of 190 countries, the reduction of public debt and budget deficit, low inflation and a series of other positive economic indicators.
All of this was, to a significant extent, also contributed by foreign investments that are increasingly reaching Serbia and which are very important stimulus for the launch of its economy. One of the countries that leads them is Austria. I will only remind that there are over 500 Austrian companies operating in Serbia and that the total investments of Austrian capital exceeded 3 billion euros.
Serbia is determined to complete the process of economic reforms that it has begun to provide conditions for a continuous, long-term and sustainable economic development. One of the key conditions for this is the preservation of the often very fragile regional stability that, and you yourself, these witnesses, mainly because of the over-sightedness of the past, passes through a series of temptations. Fully oriented towards the future, Serbia does everything not only to preserve that stability, but also to be its main bearer, and that will be our policy in the future. Her success, however, often does not depend only on us, and therefore we are grateful to Austria, which is investing enormous effort to help maintain peace and stability in the region, thus ensuring the conditions for the economic and therefore every other prosperity of all who live there.
When it comes to the bilateral economic relations of our countries, in addition to the investments I have already mentioned, their high level is confirmed by mutual trade, which records continuous growth. Companies from the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, which is in the focus of today’s conference, play a significant role in this.
With close to 1.7 million hectares of arable land, exceptional agricultural and industrial tradition and educated, worthy and willing people, Vojvodina is in the forefront of economic development in our country, and we, together with the Government of the Republic of Serbia, want to maximise the potential. That is why we are open to any kind of economic cooperation with Austria, its provinces and its companies. For now, we have institutionalised cooperation with the Province of Styria, and the talks that we held here yesterday with the Prime Minister of Lower Austria, Ms. Mikl-Lightner, as well as potential investors, have convinced me that the space for expanding cooperation is enormous. And that, which is extremely important, there is mutual readiness to use this space in the coming time.
I am deeply convinced that this conference will contribute to this.