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25. April 2013.

Belgrade – Over the last three years, the Ministry of Regional Development and Local Self-government supported small and medium-sized enterprises in Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja with more than 550 million dinars, said yesterday Verica Kalanovic, the Minister of Regional Development.  

"Over 145 million dinars were invested in the development of the infrastructure and an industrial area was established in the municipality of Presevo, which is a development opportunity of the entire southern Serbia", said Mrs. Kalanović at the first fair of the investment potential of the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, which was held at the Serbian Chamber of Commerce.

The Ministry of Regional Development and the municipality of Presevo plan to invest 50 million dinars in the development of the basic infrastructure, Mrs. Kalanovic said and voiced the hope that the industrial zone in the municipality of Presevo would encourage new investments from home and abroad.

Minister Kalanovic said that Serbia hadn’t been the negative news in the world for some time, but a country with prospects. She also said that the investors and municipalities in the southern and other parts of Serbia had the full support of the government and the ministry regarding their development.

"This fair is a place where those who make decisions and those who are interested in investing in one place want to give a chance to one part of Serbia and say we don’t want to always live on  the development assistance, we want a real development opportunity", said Mrs. Kalanović, noting that the relevant ministry would always be their reliable and stable partner. 

The Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Vincent Degert, said that he shared Minister Kalanovic’s optimism, because the Brussels agreement was great news that was of crucial importance to both domestic and foreign investors, because, as he pointed out, there were no investments without stability in the country. However, he pointed out that it wasn’t just the dialogue that was important, but the reforms as well, adding that Serbia was faced with another major challenge, which was regional development. Mr. Degert said that the EU had, in the previous years,   invested 65 million euros in South Serbia and that it planned to invest at least another 50 million euros to help build the infrastructure and provide incentives for education and business operations. He noted that the success of business operations and development largely depended on the local community and pointed out that it was necessary to have a genuine partnership between the government and local authorities, a clear vision, especially at the local level, and transparency of ownership.

President of the Coordination Body for Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, Zoran Stankovic, emphasized yesterday the importance of the fair, which, as he said, enabled the economic development of South Serbia.

"We can and must talk about the opening of companies in the area, so that they could become operational again, hire new employees and achieve the results that they used to have.  We must also be able to talk when the government adopts a recommendation that, for instance, the “Gumoplastika” company ought to be restructured, then this can’t be prevented by some director of a public company, because he is waiting for an order for this to be issued to him by his party’s colleague", he said.

Мr. Stanković hoped that yesterday’s fair would contribute to the employment of more people in the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, to the recruitment of the existing and new resources, which would contribute to the improvement of living standards in South Serbia. Upon presenting the business offer of the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja, he told the reporters that the situation in South Serbia was stable.

“There are no ethnic tensions and conflicts. This is proof that we can join forces to improve the livelihood of the population in South Serbia", said Mr. Stankovic.

The U.S. Ambassador to Serbia, Michael Kirby, said that South Serbia had something to offer to local and foreign investors and that it had a great potential. Ambassador Kirby said that foreign companies made a decision on whether Serbia was a country that they preferred to invest in on the basis of several factors, including, apart from the stability and trade agreements with Russia and Turkey, trained workforce and geographic location, and South Serbia, in this regard, was suitable, because of the proximity of Macedonia and Kosovo.

At the fair, the aim of which was for potential investors and fair exhibitors to have direct talks and discuss possible forms of cooperation, 22 companies were represented, out of which eight were from Presevo and Bujanovac each and six from the municipality of Medvedja. Upon presentation of the economic potential of the municipalities and offers of investment opportunities, a roundtable on the "Program of State Support to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises - Funding Sources" was held.

Source: Tanjug Press Agency