Progress in dialogue with Pristina will bring investors to Serbia faster

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In the first six months of this year, we will have a deficit lower by one billion euros than projected in the budget, but I would like to have had even more invested in public investments, the president said.

“The Belgrade delegation is going to Brussels, to continue the dialogue on July 19, in the best faith, to discuss and solve specific problems, from missing persons to everything else,” said the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic.

He says that progress is necessary during the new negotiations, but he emphasizes that we will see if that is possible. In a statement to the press after visiting the engineering center of the CF Serbia factory in Pancevo, the president pointed out that the dialogue with Pristina is important for our entire country, because when we progress in it, we will bring investors easier and faster.

He added that during the first six months of this year, the deficit was one billion euros less than projected in the budget.

“That is why I am happy, but I am not satisfied because of less money spent. I would like to have even more invested in public investments, because that would encourage further economic growth,” he added.

Vucic reiterated that the level of foreign direct investments in the first six months was 1.72 billion euros. That, as he said, is 19% more than last year. Vucic also said that most investments come from Germany, where the company CF (ZF) is from.

“17,000 people worked in German companies when I became prime minister. Today, there are 71,000 of them,” the president commented.

From here, our state, together with German partners, will create the future of the European automobile industry, said Vucic at the official opening of the most modern engineering center in the CF Serbia factory in Pancevo.

“It is the pride of the whole of Serbia and all the people in our country,” Vucic pointed out and added that in three years, 900 people were employed in the factory and about 100 experts in the research and development center. During the tour, he talked with local engineers, got acquainted with new technologies and possibilities of the most modern research center and wished them success in their work.

He added that he saw both “Mercedes” and “Volvo” with hybrid and electric drive, which would not even exist if it were not for the participation of Serbia. He added that “made in Serbia” will be written on many products.

“I am proud of this wonderful factory and magnificent research center,” said Vucic. He added that in a conversation with domestic experts, he learned that they come not only from Pancevo, but also from Belgrade, Novi Sad, Smederevska Palanka and other places in Serbia. The president says that Pancevo has started to develop and that a square meter of living space now costs almost as much as in some parts of Belgrade.

After visiting the factory, the president said that the first forecast was that the economic growth of Serbia, in the first six months, was eight percent, which, as he said, was a fantastic result.

“We had only minus one percent growth last year, and that is why this is an impressive result. Maybe someone has six or seven percent growth, but those are the ones who had minus 15 or minus 10 growth,” he explained and stated that companies such as CF are “medicine, salvation and life for Serbia”.

Answering the questions of journalists, on the occasion of the nine million euros he asked for two days ago for the reconstruction of roads in eastern Serbia, Vucic said that he did not ask for it for himself and enrichment, but for the construction of 50 kilometers of road from Donji Milanovac to Golubac.

“I am proud that we have so much money in the budget reserve and that we can build 50 kilometers of that important road. It may not be in accordance with every article of the Constitution or the law, but it is not in contradiction with any of them,” said Vucic and explained that he asked Minister Sinisa Mali during his visit to Kladovo if he has nine million euros in the current budget reserve for the road Donji Milanovac – Pigeon. He added that he is satisfied when they resent him for wanting to build roads and railways and develop Serbia, and not to get rich personally.

Speaking about the fight against the coronavirus, Vucic stated that he is a supporter of the idea of mandatory vaccination for certain categories of the population, which is the rule for health workers in France, but that in Serbia such a thing cannot be implemented due to the Constitution that protects it and it would represent a violation of human rights. Vucic also stated that in the next day or two, more than 50% of vaccinated adult citizens will be in Serbia. He warned that the number of infected is growing by about 20 percent on a weekly basis, but that the situation is not worrying now or next week. However, he emphasizes that it will be worrying in a month and a half. Asked whether Serbia can follow France or Greece on the issue of mandatory vaccination for certain categories of the population, or maybe a digital certificate will be needed to enter clubs, cinemas, theaters, Vucic noted that Germany tried something similar to France, so gave up because of human rights.

Especially, he reminds, that football and basketball matches are starting, everyone wants free halls, and that only accelerates the spread of the infection.

“If you ask me if I would personally be a supporter of what Macron or Mitsotakis are doing, I would do it tomorrow, but there is a limiting factor, the Constitution,” Vucic said.

He explained that the Constitution guarantees equality to citizens and that it is “not such a simple matter”. Vucic also stated that in the last few days, more people have been vaccinated, about 5,000 a day, which, of course, is not enough.

“Vaccination is weak, from Tutin, Sjenica, Novi Pazar, they are like black holes to Lajkovac, Mionica, Ub. I don’t know what it is, maybe we didn’t do a good job either,” said Vucic.

He added that the irresponsibility of those who do not get vaccinated is terrible.

“How many officials do we have who have not been vaccinated, and today I asked a minister to be vaccinated tomorrow. And those who salt their minds every day about everything, are supporters of the most irresponsible theories just to get a vote, and I will not do that,” said Vucic.

The fight against crime will continue, we must not allow such powerful and large organizations, such as Veljko Belivuk’s group, to “suffer” again, said President Vucic, answering questions from journalists.

“We will continue this fight and I am proud that we have not had an attempted mafia murder for more than half a year. There are family and pub conflicts, as well as everywhere in the world, but we have not had mafia murders since we dealt with one of the largest criminal organizations,” Vucic said.

He said that the state had dealt with a large mafia organization that had its tentacles in Pancevo as well, and that Serbia must be one of the safest countries in order to continue attracting investors. The President said that the state will continue to fight crime and corruption and that we still need to do a lot in the area of the rule of law. He believes, he emphasized, that we will make great progress in that area, that the EU will recognize that and reward Serbia by opening new clusters or chapters.

An investment on which Angela Merkel congratulated

The tour of the CF factory was attended by the head of research and development of the CF Division, Otmar Sharer, the general manager of CF Serbia, Milan Grujic, as well as the German ambassador to Serbia, Thomas Schieb. In the middle of 2019, this company opened a factory for the production of auto parts and components for the automotive industry, ships and railways in the Northern Business Zone in Pancevo. CF’s investment was the first foreign investment in Pancevo after several decades, worth more than 160 million euros. In the second phase of the investment, the company allocated additional funds in the amount of 35.6 million euros for the construction and equipping of the CF engineering center Pancevo. This factory, together with the research and development center, currently employs close to 1,000 people.

He recalled that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was very surprised when he told her earlier that Serbia managed to attract investors such as CF and that only now they understand why she congratulated him, because she obviously knew how much such a company means for our development.

“When you enter the premises of the development center, it is as if you entered a state-of-the-art pharmaceutical company and the best-equipped pharmacy,” said Vucic, Tanjug reports.