MICHEL SAINT-LOT, UNICEF Representative in Serbia: INTEGRATION OF ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL GOALS

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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. What do you think are essentially the most important changes that Serbia should make in order to be ready for EU membership by 2025?

  1. Do Serbia and the Western Balkans have enough capacity to attract large multi-nation companies to their markets?

  1. It is clearly acknowledged within the European Union that only through integration of economic and social goals can societies achieve durable prosperity. Within this strategic frame, Serbia is making decisive steps forward. Looking through the UNICEF lens, the systematic process of comprehensive reforms and investments in the social sectors are showing positive results in the improved status of most children in Serbia. But the overall progress has still not benefited all children. Therefore, there is a need for specific and decisive action to remove the remaining obstacles to service provision and social inclusion of the most vulnerable and marginalised children. Not only because every child has the right to have the chance to reach his/her full potential, but also because investing in children is a precondition to growth and development. Quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the governance system must be thoroughly reviewed in consultation with the Serbian society, including adolescent and youth. Policies, strategies and programmes must be constantly monitored, and their impacts analysed. Simultaneously, adequate levels of social expenditures which benefit children need to be safeguarded.

  2. Europe, as a continent, is very diverse. There is no one thing which can make a country “European”. In fact, the European Union is based on the preservation and support to diversity in language, culture, education, and political and economic systems of its member states, but also within its member states. In that sense, Serbia can be proud that it celebrates and fosters diversity.

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