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July 20, 2010

20. July 2010.


25 municipalities in the southern and southwestern Serbia are going to get 17.5 million euros for their development over the next three years. The European Union is going to provide 13.5, the Swiss government 2.5 and the Serbian government 1.5 million euros. This was provided under the Agreement on Implementation of the “Progress” Program, which was signed in Vranje by Vincent Degert, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia and Bozidar Djelic, the Serbian Vice Prime Minister.
The “Progress” program is part of a global partnership between the EU and municipalities, which will support the development of municipalities in the region and reduce the differences in regional development over the next three years. Bozidar Djelic, the Serbian Vice Prime Minister, said that the implementation of the “Progress” program was going to contribute to an improved operation of the municipalities, the establishment of industrial zones, the construction of the infrastructure and other facilities, which would all provide a better life to the citizens of this part of Serbia. He also said that the money would be spent on preparation of the project documentation and on development of the municipalities and cities that were faced with poverty, unemployment, inappropriate infrastructure, poor social welfare services and migration.  

The European Partnership with the Municipalities Program is implemented by the UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services).

Vincent Degert, the EU Ambassador to Serbia, underscored the importance of reducing the differences between developed and undeveloped regions, which is the goal of the project, because, as he put it, “ the most developed municipalities in the northern and western parts of Serbia usually provide the best conditions for attracting foreign investments”. Replying to the question if local self-governments in South Serbia were ready for a complex procedure of applying for the funds from both this and other programs financed by the EU countries, Ambassador Degert said that “some meetings would be organized, so that a consensus of the local self-governments and the residents about the real needs would be reached”.
„It’s important that the citizens take part in recognizing the strategic needs of their environment, which they would, thereupon, realize through the local self-government service. Those needs may range from the issues of garbage disposal, through improvement in power – supply to the rendering of services to the citizens”, Ambassador Degert said.

Beatrice Mayer, a representative of Switzerland, whose government is one of major “Progress” donors, said that following a ten years’ long presence of various donors from her country in South Serbia, those donors were now ready to do “something concrete and transparent about solving the problems, which would improve the life of all the citizens”.  „There are plenty of problems with education, but there are also migration – related problems, which may be solved only by improving the citizens’ living standard”, Mrs. Mayer said. All the activities relating to the “Progress” program shall be taken according to the needs and interest of the municipalities. Also to be done is an assessment of the possibilities for achieving a desired goal through a specific activity in the environment where the problem is solved, and this involves the financial participation of all local self-governments that apply for the funds from the “Progress” budget.   

The municipalities that may apply for the funds from the “Progress” budget include Ivanjica, Nova Varos, Novi Pazar, Priboj, Prijepolje, Raska, Sjenica and Tutin in the southwestern Serbia, as well as Blace, Zitoradja, Kursumlija and Prokuplje, which are situated in the Toplica district, and Bojnik, Vlasotince, Lebane, Leskovac, Medvedja, Crna Trava, Bosilegrad, Bujanovac, Vladicin Han, Vranje, Presevo, Surdulica and Trgoviste, which are situated in the Jablanica and Pcinj districts.