PKS praises Danube Strategy opportunitiesSource: Tanjug
BELGRADE -- The Danube Strategy opens the door to prosperity for the Danube region and Europe as a whole, a conference held at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce (PKS) heard.
With the strategy, Serbia has gained major opportunities for development in infrastructure, tourism and regional cooperation, said participants.
"In an atmosphere of full cooperation among member countries, harmonization of common interests and affirmation of friendly relations, we have found our place to express the needs of Serbia, its businesses and people," said PKS President Miloš Bugarin, opening the conference dubbed "Implementing the Danube Strategy - challenges and perspectives."
Recalling its adoption last year, Bugarin said the Danube Strategy called for quality cooperation in the Western Balkans and had increased the number of joint projects.
According to Bugarin, there are over 30 ongoing projects financed from EU funds, with another 15 in the preparation stages and a dozen in the idea stage.
The projects belong to "the four pillars of the Danube Strategy, which envisages connecting the Danube region, protecting the environment, building prosperity and strengthening the region."
Bugarin said delays in many of the programs were preventing Serbia from using the available funds to the fullest.
He talked about the PKS-initiated cleanup of the banks of the Danube, Sava and Tisa rivers, and said the Chamber would also join the River Information System project which would ensure safer travel on the Danube through Serbia and enable nautical business to develop.
"The PKS will continue to be involved in the realization of strategic projects in all areas covered by the four pillars of the Danube Strategy," said Bugarin.
Milica Delević, head of the EU Integration Office, said the Danube Strategy recognized the importance of all Danube countries, some of which are EU members and some in the process of EU integration.
She said it was important to view the region as a whole, and noted Serbia had gained numerous opportunities for development with the strategy.
Among them, she listed the restoration of the Žeželj Bridge and the Golubac Fortress, the water supply project in Veliko Gradište and the cleanup of the Bačka Canal.
Delević said a second Danube financial summit would be held in September in order to collect funds for projects encompassed by the strategy.
Vlastimir Matejićc, president of the European Movement in Serbia, said that responsibility for the implementation of the strategy rested on the state and business sector, as well as non-government organizations, the civil sector and every individual.
Michael Ehrke, director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Office in Belgrade, said that all countries in the Danube region should be under the auspices of the EU.
He noted these countries differed greatly in the level of development - from Germany as the most developed to Moldova as the poorest among them.
The countries in the Danube region are: Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova and Ukraine.