PM invites Czechs to invest, addresses Russian gas problem

Aleksandar Vučić said in Prague on Friday that full EU membership is Serbia's strategic goal, while "along that path" Serbia wants to revive its economy,

Source: Tanjug

The prime minister added that "Czech companies are welcome to assist Serbia in the process."

At the start of his visit to Prague, Vučić met his Czech counterpart Bohuslav Sobotka, with whom he discussed the bilateral relations, further political dialogue, support that the Czech Republic is offering to Serbia along the road to the EU and strengthening of economic cooperation.

The prime minister thanked for assistance that the Czech government gave to Serbia during the devastating floods, and underscored that he expects Sobotka's visit to Belgrade and that he will take part in the summit of prime ministers that will be held in the Serbian capital in December.

The Czech Republic considers Serbia a friendly country and this is a good opportunity to make a step forward in our relations, Prime Minister Sobotka underlined, confirming that he will take part in the Chinese investment summit in Belgrade in December.

To that gathering, the Czech Republic will also send economic representatives who will together with Serbian colleagues talk about economic cooperation and the organization of a Serbia-Czech business forum.

Vučić noted that the trade between the two countries increased by 32 percent in 2013, while in 2014 it has grown by 10.8 percent which amounts to EUR 620 -630 million.

The Serbian prime minister hopes that in the years ahead the trade will reach EUR 1 billion.

The talks also addressed greater engagement of Czech companies in the infrastructure projects in Serbia, such as works on the upgrade of the Niš-Dimitrovgrad railway, thermal power plant “Stavalj” and improvement in the cooperation in the field of agriculture.

Prime Minister Sobotka thanked his Serbian counterpart on the support that the Serbian government has been giving to the Czech minority in Serbia.

Upon his arrival in Prague, Vučić was given a ceremonial welcome. Later in the day, the Serbian prime minister will meet Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mladek, Speaker of the Czech parliament's lower house Jan Hamacek, and representatives of Czech companies.

The Vučić-led delegation includes Finance Minister Dušan Vujović.

"Don't worry"

While in Prague, Aleksandar Vučić commented on media reports that Russia decided to decrease gas deliveries to Serbia after he, during a recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, "refused to sign guarantees that Serbia will repay its debt by March."

Vućić said that "there will be no problems with gas supplies," advising at the same time Serbian citizens "not to worry."

"We will know how to resolve everything related to the payment of our debt with our Russian partners and find a solution to the benefit of citizens of Serbia," he said, adding:

"There will be no problems, citizens of Serbia need not worry."

The Belgrade-based daily Blic writes that the decision to cut gas supplies was made a week ago, and was explained by "the gas crisis and decreased export contingents from Russia."

Energy Minister Aleksandar Antić has been quoted as saying that the delivers currently arriving from Russia, "along with the domestic production and in small part the Bantski Dvor (storage) reserves" are at the moment sufficient.

Antić added that he expected the problem to be solved "in a week" - when a Serbian delegation is due to travel to Moscow.


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