Austria’s foreign policy has been characterised by continuous support to EU enlargement, as a stabilising factor for Southeast Europe and a key component contributing to peace, economic development and social welfare in the region. Furthermore, expanding trade and investment in the emerging markets of Southeast Europe is an important element of Austria’s economic activity.
Indeed, in many cases, leading Austrian politicians have supported Serbia on its EU path. There are numerous examples of that support that have been presented on the pages of this publication. For example, in an interview for CorD, Wolfgang Sobotka, President of the Austrian Parliament, pointed out that the EU needs to appreciate and honour the reforms undertaken by Serbia and other countries in the region, while Austrian Ambassador to Serbia H.E. Nikolaus Lutterotti voiced his support to the efforts of the Serbian Government, emphasising that strong political will and determination to advance on the reform path will see processes bear fruit for Serbian citizens long before an actual decision on enlargement is brought.
Bilateral relations between the two countries are excellent and improving in depth and scope each year
The list of priorities that should be addressed by the accession process relate to the rule of law, that is to EU accession negotiation chapters 23 and 24, which are important for all aspects of life and economic development in Serbia. This is particularly the case with the independence of the judiciary, the fight against corruption and organised crime, and striving to ensure media freedom.
Bilateral relations between the two countries are excellent and improving in depth and scope each year. They are the result of joint efforts on the Serbian and Austrian sides, and are also based on mutual interests. Some of the best examples of these developments are in the sphere of education and digitalisation. The Austrian, German and Swiss governments have been working closely for some time with the Serbian authorities on the introduction of dual education to secondary and tertiary education in the country. These efforts were recently combined with diligent work on supporting Serbian companies and others in the region to enter the process of digitalising their operations. This process, which should – over the long term – lead to the development of the knowledge-based economy in Serbia, will also help Serbian companies enter into much more complex and technologically advanced cooperation with Austrian partners. This will further help the already burgeoning trade exchange between the two countries and boost the existing level of investment of Austrian companies in Serbia, which is already commendable.