31.03.2020. - 11:57
Telephone conversation with the European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement
President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić spoke on the phone earlier today with the EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi to discuss the EU assistance to Serbia and the Western Balkans to respond to this challenge.
President Vučić thanked Commissioner Várhelyi in particular for his personal engagement, emphasising that Serbia remains on the European path and that it will meet all of its obligations along that path, but that it will also be able to show solidarity with the European Union countries most affected by the coronavirus.
The President and Commissioner Várhelyi agreed that cooperation and coordination of measures between the Western Balkans and the European Union are needed, as the challenge of this scale can only be met by the close partnership and solidarity.
Commissioner Várhelyi told President Vučić that he had instructed the relevant departments to allow Serbia to use up to 15 million euros for urgent needs, which would be financed from the ongoing contracts with UNOPS and UNDP and the European integration support programmes. He also added that using the remaining € 20.8 million from the European Integration Programme for short-term needs shall be observed, and with the consent of the Government of Serbia, up to 57.6 million euros would be diverted from the programmes initially earmarked for other short- and medium-term projects needs.
President Vučić told Commissioner Várhelyi that Serbia is grateful for the EU assistance so far in the fight against coronavirus through financing the emergency procurement of medical equipment, as well as the financing of cargo flights delivering the material. He said that we also count on the EU support in eliminating the economic consequences of the disease.
Commissioner Várhelyi also expressed his hope that, given the current needs and situation in the EU Member States, he would be able to respond positively to Serbia's request for support of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. He also pointed out the extension of the EU Solidarity Fund's purpose to remedy the consequences of endangering public health. Serbia was also offered the opportunity to join a voluntary joint procurement agreement.
31st March 2020