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PM Cerar and PM Brnabić support further strengthening of cooperation between Slovenia and Serbia

“Serbia is an important political and economic partner of Slovenia”, said Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar at today’s press conference after the joint session of the governments of Slovenia and Serbia. Outside the joint session, bilateral meetings were held at ministerial level, and an agreement on the employment of Serbian citizens in Slovenia, a memorandum in the area of safety at work and a letter of intent regarding the expansion of cooperation in the area of film culture were signed.

The Prime Minister noted that economic relations between the two countries are excellent. The strengthening of the current levels of cooperation, particularly in the economic sector, and joint representation on third-country markets were at the forefront of today’s joint session. Serbia remains Slovenia’s most important trading partner in the region of SE Europe, and Serbia is also a significant destination for Slovenian investments. 


More than 1500 Slovenian companies are registered in Serbia, which is by far the highest among all foreign investors in Serbia. Slovenian companies provide around 25,000 jobs in Serbia, and contribute to the strengthening of Serbian exports. Trade is growing steadily: in 2016 it reached its highest level in the past ten years (EUR 1.24 billion), and in the first ten months of last year it grew by a full 6.4% relative to the same period in 2016.  As Prime Minister Cerar said in a press release, further opportunities for improving economic cooperation between the two countries lie above all in the areas of environmental protection, digitalisation, infrastructure and energy. 



Slovenia supports Serbia on its path to the EU and efforts to promote regional stability

“I assured my colleague Ms Brnabić that Slovenia will continue to actively support Serbia’s European prospects”, continued Prime Minster Cerar, “both within the framework of European institutions and through bilateral technical assistance. Therefore we expect Serbia to continue its intensive efforts to introduce reforms and to progress on its path to joining the European Union.” In their discussions, representatives of both governments also touched on the expansion of the EU, as with the publication of the enlargement strategy for the countries of the Western Balkans, increased EU dynamics in the region are expected in 2018. Slovenia supports enlargement which would include all of the countries in the region, whereby it underscores the importance of the strengthening of and respect for the rule of law. 



With respect to the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Prime Minister Cerar noted that Slovenia has supported all efforts towards the continuing of the dialogue and any efforts aimed at regional stabilisation. He also emphasised the importance of the EU playing an active role in keeping the peace in the region. 


The EU’s role was also noted by Serbian Prime Minister Brnabić in the context of the implementation of the arbitral award between Slovenia and Croatia. She said that Serbia is working above all to respect international law and noted that international arbitration can be a model for the region, and a path to resolving unresolved issues between the two countries if they are unable to reach agreement in another manner. 



Slovenia supports fast-track resolution of succession issues


The Slovenian prime minister said that in his face-to-face meeting with the Serbian prime minister they also touched on succession issues, and this issue was also an important topic at the bilateral plenary session. In the press release, PM Cerar stated that “this is an extremely important matter, which the countries are resolving in an amicable manner. The work of the joint committee and its subcommittees on cultural heritage and archival materials will intensify over the next few months in order to accelerate progress in individual areas.” The prime minister also mentioned, as a sign of good relations between the two countries, the draft act on the collective recognition of the cultural rights of members of minorities from the republics of the former Yugoslavia, which was submitted today. 


Later in today’s joint governmental session, the prime ministers will participate in the Slovenian-Serbian Business Forum, in which more than 170 businesspeople from both countries will participate.



Bilateral meeting 

Several bilateral meetings at ministerial level were also held outside the plenary session of the Slovenian and Serbian governments. These included a meeting between Slovenian foreign minister Karl Erjavec and minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović, who confirmed both countries’ intention to maintain their good level of cooperation in the area of succession. With respect to the conditions in the region they agreed that regional cooperation and respect for agreements must be further strengthened. Minister Erjavec informed his colleague about the progress of Slovenia’s implementation of the arbitral award on the border between Slovenia and Croatia, and noted that the implementation of the award sends an important message to the region and to the EU. The model of resolving border disputes through arbitration is appropriate for resolving all of the border disputes among the countries of the Western Balkans, he said. 


Minister Erjavec provided further support for Serbia’s European prospects, and he and Minister Joksimović shared their expectations regarding the recently announced enlargement strategy, which will be presented by the European Commission in February. 


Comprehensive regulation of employment of economic migrants, enhanced cooperation in the area of culture and start-up companies


Other significant topics of the discussions included the employment of Serbian citizens in Slovenia, cooperation in the area of safety and health at work, responses to demographic indicators and the issue of economic migration. Slovenian minister Anja Kopač Mrak and Serbian minister Zoran Đorđević also signed an agreement which, taking into account the impacts of workforce rotation, voluntary return of migrant workers to their country of origin and ethical human resource policies aimed at reducing brain drain, forms a basis for the comprehensive regulation of the employment of Serbian citizens in Slovenia. 


Despite the intensive and extensive economic cooperation between the two countries, Slovenian Minister Počivalšek and Serbian State Secretary at the Ministry of Economy Milun Trivunac agreed at their bilateral meeting that the countries have to take advantage of numerous business opportunities, placing particular emphasis on the areas of start-up companies, digitalisation and tourism. Minister Počivalšek said that Slovenia supports one of the key priorities of the Bulgarian Presidency, which is the enlargement of the EU in the Western Balkans: “Slovenia will continue to offer active support for connecting the Western Balkans in the areas of transport, communications, energy, education and digitalisation.” The minister also acknowledged and expressed support for Slovenian companies which have submitted a bid for the acquisition of Serbian companies.


There is intensive cooperation between Slovenia and Serbia in practically every area of culture, particularly in music, theatre and cinema. Cooperation in the area of books and publishing and the visual arts has increased in recent years, and both sides have expressed a desire for closer cooperation in the area of film and audio-visual production. Outside of today’s joint session of the governments, the ministers of culture signed a letter of intent in connection with continued cooperation in the area of film and audio-visual production.



Relations in the area of agriculture traditionally excellent 


At their bilateral meeting, Ministers of Agriculture Dejan Židan and Branislav Nedimović confirmed the two countries’ traditionally excellent relations in the area of agriculture, and within the framework of today’s discussions particularly emphasised increased cooperation in the area of young farmers, the implementation of agricultural policy and preparations for the reform of the CAP, and high-level meetings relating to the 16+1 initiative in the area of forestry, in which the cooperation is being coordinated by Slovenia, and this year’s ministerial-level meeting will be held in Serbia. Minister Židan also responded to his colleague Minister Nedimović’s questions about the activities that will be held in Slovenia on the first celebration of World Bee Day between 18 and 20 May, and invited him to a ministerial conference which will be held on the occasion.



 Joint Declaration (452 KB)