President Nikolic talked in Vienna on Thursday afternoon with representatives of major Austrian companies that are present in Serbia.
Nikolic talked with members of the managing and executive boards of Strabag, Porr, Erste Bank, Raiffeisen Bank, Kapsch, UNIQA, assuring them that Serbia will keep the free trade agreement with the Russian Federation, which is a big opportunity for investors.
In the period when EU-Russia relations are going through a rough patch, Serbia will keep its completely neutral position, Nikolic said.
“That is our and your chance,” he told representatives of the firms that have investments in Serbia amounting to over EUR 500 million and hiring around 6,000 people.
“Serbia carried out the privatization very quickly, and very poorly, but that is past now,” Nikolic said, adding that a new government will have a fund for subsidizing investments, both domestic and foreign ones.
He noted that the talks had begun on Serbia’s accession to the EU, and that they are unfolding at a pace set by the EU.
Nikolic said that Serbia could become an EU member state for six or eight years, but that EU accession talks guarantee to investors that the Serbian legislation will get better day by day.
He announced that the Serbian authorities will drastically speed up the administrative procedure relating to investments, adding that so far the investments in infrastructure had been backed, but that now investments in the economy will constitute a priority.
“I am sure you had a chance to learn first-hand that our workers are highly qualified, that they are in need of work, and that they are ready to work well in order to keep their jobs,” Nikolic said.,
He underscored that political relations between Serbia and Austria are very stable, and cannot be hindered in any way.
“Serbia is the driving force in the Balkans. The reactions of other states in the region also depend on Serbia’s position, even of those which are member states of the EU,” Nikolic said.
With the new government, you will be able to find a common language, the Serbian president said.
He also noted that Serbia has friends across the world, but that it does not have enough products for all these markets.
Representatives of the Austrian companies talked about their experiences in the Serbian market, and inquired about further possibilities for expansion and improvement of their businesses in Serbia.