Italy is reaping the benefits of the “increased wealth” being created by its firms in Serbia, which is “particularly appropriate and receptive”, Minister Giulio Terzi underscored at the conclusion of a meeting at the foreign ministry with Serbian Premier Ivica Dacic, recalling the strategic partnership underwritten in 2009.
500 firms, 20,000 workers
The numbers speak for themselves: Italy is Serbia’s third largest trade partner, after Russia and Germany, with 2 billion euro in exchanges (up 15% in 2011) and exports up 25% in the first half of 2012. Serbia hosts 500 firms with Italian participation and provides jobs for 20,000 workers in sectors such as banking, textiles and auto manufacturing.
Serbia is Italy’s best friend in the Balkans
“Serbia is Italy’s best friend in the Balkans”, Dacic pointed out, recalling that there were still “many opportunities for Italian firms to grow”. On the bilateral cooperation front the Serbian premier singled out an energy accord, on which “there are no difficulties” and that should be ratified “very soon”, for a “large volume” project. Dacic also announced to Terzi that Serbia was the 109th country to sign up to participate in the 2015 Milan Expo.
The talks also turned to Serbia’s bid for EU membership, which Italy has encouraged since Belgrade was granted candidate status in March. “We believe in this country’s European future and in that of an increasingly integrated Balkans region”, Terzi explained, also expressing his appreciation for the resumption of dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina that had created a “favourable climate”. Italy, the minister added, “wishes to continue to play an active role in encouraging the parties concerned to pursue the path undertaken toward European integration”.
“Serbia intends to resolve open issues with Pristina”
On the question of Kosovo, Dacic assured that Serbia “intends to resolve all the open issues with Pristina, not only technical ones, but we expect the same constructive approach from the other side”. Belgrade hopes to “enter the EU quickly and to fulfill all the criteria imposed” by Brussels”. Also, according to the Serbian premier, the idea of a “frozen conflict” with Pristina, “left to our children, is unacceptable”, so the goal is to “find a formula that satisfies both peoples”, he added, recalling that in two days the parties would meet once again in Brussels.