"Greece supports Serbia as friendly country"

BELGRADE -- Greece's ambassador to Serbia says Greece, as a friendly country, consistently backs Serbia’s development and wants it to assume its place in the EU family.

“My country's political leadership's wish is for Serbia to take its place in the European family. We believe that this is best for Serbia and for regional stability,“ Christos Panagopoulos told Tanjug.

Speaking about the economy, the Greek ambassador said that it was more than clear that reforms should continue. “An end to reforms would be the equivalent to stopping a plane that is preparing to take off,“ he said.

According to Panagopoulos, Greece is conducting a policy of support to Serbia’s development and improving the lives of its citizens, as reflected in the huge aid that Serbia received after 2000, as well as investments that exceed EUR 2.5bn.

He recalled that in 2001 and 2002 the serious situation in the country dictated that aid was predominantly of a humanitarian character, but that this was followed by development aid.

Greece adopted an important aid program, dubbed the "Hellenic Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans", which earmarked EUR 230mn for Serbia, the Greek ambassador stated.

The bulk of this sum, about 80 percent, was intended for much-needed infrastructure, including Corridor 10, which was a priority both for Serbia and Greece, as well as for the entire region, the Greek diplomat added.

“Of the overall costs of construction of Corridor 10, amounting to about EUR 300mn, 100mn will constitute a net donation from my government,“ Panagopoulos pointed out.

He underlined that one of Athens and its Belgrade-based embassy’s goals was the promotion of economic relations, which had a very positive dynamism, since Greece topped the list of countries making direct and indirect investment in Serbia.

“We are present in all strategic branches of the economy, meaning that we came to Serbia to stay,“ the ambassador added.

Greek investment will create more that 27,000 jobs for Serbian citizens, Panagopoulos said, expressing his hope that this trend would shortly be expanded with Serbian investment in Greece.