Accession process chance for improving quality of life

Ivica Dacic, has said at the UN headquarters in New York that the EU membership remains Serbia's first foreign policy priority.

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Ivica Dacic, Serbia's First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister, has said at the UN headquarters in New York that the EU membership remains Serbia's first foreign policy priority, and that the accession process is a chance for ensuring better living conditions for citizens.

In his address at Monday's special session of the UN General Assembly dedicated to the Follow Up to the Program of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) after 2014, Dacic said that Serbia has been fully committed to economic recovery and internal reforms, while making every effort to contribute to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) globally, and has taken an active role in formulating the sustainable development goals after 2015.

Today, the population picture of Serbia is not different from that of Europe. Population aging is the most noticeable phenomenon, and Serbia has the highest average age in South-East Europe, Dacic said, underscoring that the difficult economic situation resulted in a decline in the birth rate.

In the last 50 years, the share of the young population in the total figure has almost halved, and people aged 65 and above account for 20 percent of the population. It gives a particular cause for concern that today the worker-to-retiree ratio in Serbia is one to one. Thirty years ago, the ratio was four to one, he pointed out.

Dacic said that despite the difficulties, Serbia is making every effort to improve the position of the elderly, and noted that the Council on Aging and the Old Age Affairs was established in 2007, as an expert advisory body, dealing with the implementation of the national policy in relation to the elderly and harmonization with the international policies and strategies.

In order to draw public attention to the problems and discrimination facing the elderly and highlight the importance of ensuring a proper living environment for them, on October 1 each year we mark the International Day of Older Persons, in line with UN GA Resolution 45/106, the Serbian foreign minister said.

’’High on our agenda is the empowerment of women’’, he said, adding that the number of women in management positions has increased, while their percentage in the least educated part of the population decreased.

’’The mortality of pregnant women in Serbia in the last 10 years has declined to the level average of the European region, while the number of abortions of unwanted pregnancies has been almost halved. By providing conditions for safe motherhood through education and information of women, we are contributing to the promotion and protection of reproductive health’’, Dacic said.

The Serbian minister said that the issue of population migration is of key importance for Serbia, adding that nearly 30,000 citizens leave the country every year, mainly the ones with higher education.

’’We are faced with a continual brain drain. It is difficult to reconcile ourselves to these numbers, all the more so as we recall that, according to the statistical data, right after the United States, Serbia had the largest influx of immigrants at the turn of XIX and XX centuries. Its prestige was so great that many prominent scientists, doctors, politicians craved Serbian citizenship’’, Dacic said.

He said that the United Nations Population Fund in Serbia, which was established in 2006, has offered generous help to the Serbian government's fight for better living conditions.

’’It is our common goal to solve the problems which have a negative impact on the economic growth’’, he said.

’’There is a need for national strategies for population development and protection of reproductive health’’, Dacic said, adding that the government is expecting the Fund's support in this respect.

’’Serbia will stay strongly committed to the sustainable development goals, which we have demonstrated through our engagement in the European Economic and Social Committee’’, Dacic said.