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Solid Relations In Turbulent Times

Relations between Serbia and Austria are on the rise and this trend is expected to continue. Expanded collaboration in many fields, as well as Austria’s stance that the European integration of the countries of the region is of essential and geostrategic importance to the EU, make our mutual ties even stronger

Austria and Serbia enjoy excellent bilateral relations, yet both countries are exerting every possible effort to further deepen their political, cultural, business and commercial relations. Furthermore, Austria continuously supports Serbia on its path to EU accession. Austrian diplomats often note that Serbia is one of Austria’s most important partners in the region, which is also reflected in its foreign policy even during these times when the political landscape is complex and Serbia’s EU accession seems to be going through particularly challenging times. Austria remains firm in its stance that the European integration of the countries of the region is of essential and geostrategic importance to the EU.

As it was recently put by Austrian Federal Minister for European and International Affairs Alexander Schallenberg, Austria’s proposal is that the EU starts to behave step-by-step towards the countries of the Western Balkans as if they were already member states, adding that this proposal has nothing to do with Russia’s attack on Ukraine, but rather the need for the EU accession process to already show concrete results.

Apart from EU-related topics, the two countries have been collaborating successfully in the combatting of human trafficking and managing migration, but also on many other topics that demand cooperation on a daily basis, spanning from police and judicial affairs, via the environment, agriculture and education, to economic matters, of course.

The Serbian diaspora in Austria, as well as Serbian students studying in Austria, also help to establish and reinforce links between the two nations

The improvement of economic cooperation between the two countries is in the focus of both partners. New sectors are opening up for cooperation, such as the infrastructure sector, i.e., transport networks, logistics, energy transition and industrial construction, as well as IT.

Although there are increasing global economic challenges, such as disruptions to value chains, the energy crisis, inflation and possible recessions across the EU, trade relations between Serbia and Austria, as well as the inflow of Austrian investments, so far remain steady, making Austria one of Serbia’s top three partners. Indeed, in 2021, economic and trade exchange between the two countries stood at €1.36 billion, representing growth of 36 per cent over the past four years. Austria is among the three largest foreign investors in Serbia and Austrian companies show constant interest in increasing their investments in the country.

The field of dual education has been a particularly important part of this cooperation for several years. Serbia has proven to be the most successful country in the region when it comes to introducing a dual education system that offers young people unhindered access to the Serbian labour market and attracts Austrian and other foreign companies. This cooperation is now set to be further improved, with the shortage of qualified labour hampering the further growth of the economy.

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