Greece willing to support initiative for writing-off Serbia’s debt to Paris club

Greece is ready to provide diplomatic support to the Serbian government in an effort to convince creditors of the Paris club to write off $1 billion debt, Serbian Minister of Finance Mladjan Dinkic said today during his official visit in Greece.

Dinkic met today with Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Dora Bakoyannis and Minister of Finance and Economy George Alogoskoufis. Dinkic presented Belgrade’s official initiative that Serbia will formally send to creditors of the Paris club in a month’s time. The initiative has the backing of Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica and Serbian President Boris Tadic.

According to Dinkic, the money which the Paris club would write off would be used to complete Corridor 10 in southern Serbia whereas part of the funds would be invested in infrastructure in Serbia’s underdeveloped municipalities as well as in environment protection projects.

The Minister confirmed the government already received preliminary consent from the World Bank for this initiative and repeated that, if the Paris club agrees to this, the money invested in transport would mean great developmental potential not just for Serbia but also for the whole of South Eastern Europe, including Greece.

In this sense, the €230 million that Athens should set aside as part of the Hellenic Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans (HIPERB), could be used as additional funds along with the ones Serbia would set aside, Dinkic said while insisting
the Hellenic Plan should start as soon as possible.

Dinkic said that he also discussed the course of the Kosovo talks with Dora Bakoyannis, adding they agreed that a phased approach would be the best solution in this case. He explained it would be best if talks on decentralisation in Kosovo be concluded by summer, as well as solving other issues regarding the protection of orthodox monasteries and churches in the province. Serbia expects considerable support of Greece in this matter, Dinkic added.

During the talks in Vienna, $1.07 billion of the so-called „Kosovo debt“ should be redirected to the Kosovo interim authorities since Serbia is not the one collecting taxes in the province, the Minister said.

Dinkic said that during the meeting it was also mentioned that bilateral relations require a change in the visa regime, that is its abolishment in the upcoming period.

At the meeting with Alogoskoufis the bilateral agreement for avoiding double taxation between Serbia and Greece was discussed, as well as the signing of a contract on the cooperation of the countries’ tax administrations, having in mind that their economic cooperation is intensifying and the number of tax payers increasing, Dinkic said.

Minister Dinkic met in Athens with members of the Serbian-Greek business council, who mutually agreed the business climate has considerably improved and the number of Greek companies interested in investing in Serbia is increasing. The presence of 80 Greek companies in Serbia and %euro;1.2 billion of Greek investments prove this is true, concluded Dinkic.