Substantial development of Western Balkans countries is not possible without large-scale public and private investments, which must be planned for the long-term to be successful, European Movement in Serbia President Mr. Mihajlo Crnobrnja said on 8th of November.
The need for investing in the Region is vast, while EU companies are currently the biggest investors, Crnobrnja said at the conference under the title „Investments in the Future of the Western Balkans – People, Infrastructure, Reforms”, organized by the European Movement in Serbia and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
“Investments need to be planned because they do not cover a period of five or six months, but have influence for decades. This is why it is important that we abandon the orthodox idea of neoliberalism which puts the market at the center of everything,” he said.
Ms. Suzana Grubješić, EMinS Secretary General stated that there is no dilemma that the largest donor, investor and trading partner of Serbia is the EU.
Coordinator of Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Serbia and Montenegro, Ms. Aleksandra Popović, said that one of the conditions for investment in the Western Balkans was that the EU continue investing in the region. “If the EU continues to encourage Western Balkans to stay on their road on EU integration, these countries will benefit in economic and political stability,” she said.
“About 75% of investments in Serbia come from the EU countries, and approximately the same percentage of newly employed workers in Serbia found jobs in companies from these countries,” said Mr. Vladimir Ateljević, Advisor to the Minister of European Integration of the Republic of Serbia. Furthermore, there is an increase of 20 percent in foreign direct investments in Western Balkans, while Central and Eastern European countries register a decrease of close to 18 percent. This is an area where it is definitely possible to record further growth and a greater number of investments,” Ateljević stated highlighting that the EU is the largest donor, investor and trading partner of the Republic of Serbia.
Conference participants said that the region of the Western Balkans is was facing numerous challenges, such as ending economic and institutional transition, lowering unemployment, poverty and inequality, the modernization of infrastructure and successful integration into the EU. Full conference report in Serbian can be found here.