Slovenia and Serbia confirm good relations
Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec paid an official visit to Serbia at the invitation of Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić. At their meeting, the two Prime Ministers focused above all on bilateral relations and plans for future cooperation between the two governments, with an emphasis on strengthening economic cooperation and achieving further progress with regard to succession issues.
Mr Šarec described relations between the two countries as good and characterised cooperation as dynamic and many-sided. He emphasised that Serbia is an important economic partner. The two countries are showing growth in the trade, services and tourism sectors, while investment flows between the two countries are also strengthening.
While trade in goods already rose by 14% in 2018 compared to 2017 to exceed EUR 1.5 billion, PM Šarec said opportunities needed to be used both in the economy and in tourism.
His host, Serbian PM Ana Brnabić singled out Slovenia as one of the biggest investors in Serbia, with around 1,600 Slovenian companies active there. It is also a key foreign investor, she added, while expressing her expectation Serbian investment in Slovenia would grow too. She labelled the total trade of EUR 1.6 million recorded in 2018 as impressive, but expressed hope it would exceed EUR 2 billion in 2020.
The two leaders discussed opportunities for a further deepening of cooperation between the Slovenian and Serbian governments, with both leaders agreeing that joint sessions of the two governments give added value to this cooperation. The last joint session took place in Slovenia in February 2018 and resulted in several concrete agreements, some of which are still being implemented. One of these agreements provides that on 1 September 2019 an agreement on the employment of Serbian citizens in Slovenia will enter into force. The next session will be hosted by Serbia and is expected to take place before the end of the year.
The two Prime Ministers also touched on EU enlargement, with PM Šarec once again stating his support for Serbia’s progress on its path to the EU and emphasising his awareness of the importance of dynamically opening negotiating chapters when all conditions are met for such a step. Slovenia continues to advocate very actively its view that the enlargement process must continue and should take place in parallel with discussions on the future of Europe. Mr Šarec also emphasised the importance of strengthening and respecting the rule of law. Slovenia will continue to give practical effect to its support via the bilateral engagement of Slovenian experts and in the context of EU activities – Slovenian experts are currently participating in two European projects involving close interinstitutional cooperation (twinning projects): one in the field of the fight against human trafficking and the other in the field of migration and asylum.
Mr Šarec then met Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, with whom he touched on all current bilateral issues, and National Assembly President Maja Gojković. All the talks included exchanges of views and positions with regard to current events in the EU and conditions in the region.