Serbia is a geostrategically and geopolitically important partner for Austria, and in these unprecedented times it is important to send the message that the countries of the Western Balkans belong to the European Union and Europe, said Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer during his official visit to our country.
In talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, he pointed out that Austria sees itself as a bridge and has an interest in speeding up the accession of the Western Balkans, reiterating that Austria will work to further deepen relations with Serbia and the region.
“In the times we live in, we need to bring our friends closer to us. We have huge tasks that we need to overcome together. It is very important for Austria that we come together in this region, because we are equally affected by many challenges such as illegal migration”, explained Nehammer, adding that Austria is also a sizeable investor in Serbia because this market is very interesting.
The chancellor also announced that the two countries would deepen their further bilateral cooperation.
“I can proudly say that in Austria we have one of the largest diasporas from Serbia. We are proud of our citizens of Serbian origin, who respect their new homeland but do not forget where they came from. This connects us”, said Nehammer, expressing great satisfaction at being in Belgrade again and mentioning that as the Minister of the Interior he had an excellent relationship and cooperation with his counterpart in Serbia.
President Aleksandar Vučić expressed gratitude for the support that Austria provides to our country in the process of European integration.
“We highly appreciate Austria’s strong engagement in the enlargement of the European Union and support for our country’s European path”, said Vučić.
Vučić and Nehammer met at the Presidency, and the President of Serbia warmly welcomed his guest in front of the building on Andrićev Venac. The meeting was also attended by Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Selaković and Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović, together with Austrian Ambassador to Serbia Nikolaus Luteroti.
During the meeting, the partnership and friendship between Serbia and Austria were confirmed, as were their strong political and economic ties, since Austria is one of Serbia’s closest partners, said Prime Minister Ana Brnabić at a joint press conference.
She expressed gratitude to Austria for its support enjoyed by our country in European integration, mentioning former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who, as she pointed out, has personally done a lot for Serbia and our European integration so that the topic of enlargement is constantly on the EU agenda.
“In Austria, we have always had a partner we could rely on”, said the Prime Ministert, mentioning that, economically speaking, Austria is Serbia’s second most important partner after Germany in total investment.
She noted that Austrian companies have so far invested 2.585 billion euros in Serbia, employing more than 22,000 people, while in 2021 a trade volume of 1.36 billion euros was recorded, 28 percent more than in 2020.
Also, she added, the level of trade increased 1.7 times from 2010 to 2020, Serbian exports to Austria 1.9 times, and imports from Austria 1.8 times, viewing this as an encouraging trend.
Brnabić mentioned that one topic of conversation was the crisis in Eastern Europe.
“We spoke openly. I know that many in the EU are concerned that instability may spill over into the Western Balkans. I have clearly stated that Serbia will continue to play the role of one of the pillars of stability in the region, that we will continue to be an exporter of peace and stability and that we will not allow instability or crisis to spill over to this part of Europe”, she said, concluding that “the EU can fully count on Serbia”.
During his official visit, Nehammer also met with Patriarch Porfirio and Minister of the Interior Aleksandar Vulin.