The President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, spoke today in a phone call with European Union Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi about cooperation in combating the spread of COVID-19 virus, as well as the EU’s help Serbia and the Western Balkans respond to this challenge.
President Vucic particularly thanked Commissioner Varhelyi for his personal engagement, emphasizing that Serbia is on the European path and will fulfil all its obligations along the way, but will also be able to show solidarity with the European Union countries which are hardest hit by the coronavirus.
Vucic and Varhelyi agreed that co-operation and coordination of measures between the Western Balkans and the European Union are needed.
Commissioner Varhelyi told President Vucic that he had instructed the relevant services to allow Serbia to use up to 15 million euros for urgent needs, which would be financed from ongoing contracts with UNOPS and UNDP and from European integration support programs, and that also considering of using the remaining € 20.8 million from the European Integration Program for short-term needs, and with the consent of the Government of Serbia, divert up to € 57.6 million from programs initially earmarked for other short- and medium-term projects needs.
President Vucic told Commissioner Varhelyi that Serbia is grateful for the EU’s assistance so far in the fight against the coronavirus COVID-19 through financing the emergency procurement of medical equipment, as well as the financing of cargo flights delivering the equipment. He said that Serbia counts on EU support and in eliminating the economic consequences of the disease.
Commissioner Varhelyi also expressed his hope that, given the current needs and situation in the EU Member States, he would be able to respond positively to Serbia’s request for support of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and at the same time point to the extension of the EU Solidarity Fund’s purpose to remedy the consequences endangering public health. Serbia was also offered the opportunity to join a voluntary joint procurement agreement.