Donors to speed up assistance to Serbia

The economy branch of the Serbian government and representatives from the most important international organisations, financial institutions, and embassies of 15 countries discussed on Monday the situation in Serbia after the assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Government representatives expressed determination to keep on with reforms and called for support and assistance on the reform path, speeding up the realisation of financial aid, and scheduling a donors’ conference for Serbia and Montenegro in June this year.

Serbian Minister of Finance and Economy Bozidar Djelic said that this donors’ meeting is part of the economic diplomacy that started with Javier Solana and Chris Patten’s visit to Belgrade and continued through numerous contacts with the European Union. Djelic said that donors were asked to convert into concrete funds what they had promised after the Prime Minister’s assassination. In that sense, said Djelic, we talked about three key points:

First, organising a donors’ conference for Serbia and Montenegro in June this year. Certain conditions for that have been created, and we made it very clear that such a conference should be held as soon as possible, since it had been postponed a few times.

Second, additional financial support to reforms in Serbia, of around EUR 400 million. Some EUR 250 million would be used for budget payments, projects or infrastructure, while the remaining EUR 150 million will be spent on supporting our balance of payment.

Third, launching new initiatives and speeding up the existing ones, such as a loan of no less than EUR 20 million to be approved as soon as Serbia and Montenegro are admitted to the Council of Europe, speeding up the realisation of the Hellenic Plan of EUR 60 million, and aid of the international community in eliminating the consequences of the NATO bombardment.

Djelic announced that Greek Foreign Minister and President-in-Office of the European Union George Papandreou will address in Brussels tomorrow the foreign ministers of the EU, and that contacts directed to ensuring that some of these priorities are mentioned in his speech are under way.

Djelic also said that a delegation of finance ministers from the EU is coming to Belgrade today to consider the new situation. He added that contacts have been intensified with the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, as well as with important foreign countries such as America, Germany, France, Italy, and Greece.