Head of the Delegation of the European Union kicked off his first official visit the south of the country in Vranje, paying several visits to EU-funded projects aimed at improving people’s lives.
Together with Mayor of Vranje Slobodan Milenkovic Ambassador Fabrizi paid a visit to the surgical ward of the Vranje General Hospital whose construction, supported by the EU with EUR2.8 million, is moving to an end. He said that the EU was proud of the fact that its name was associated with this important project, adding that people in this part of the country were deserving of high-quality health care services.
“EU taxpayers give EUR200 million a year to help Serbia meet European standards that will bring benefits to all Serbian citizens,“ Ambassador Fabrizi said, adding that he was happy that part of the funding was being invested in Vranje.
Mayor Slobodan Milenkovic recalled that the construction of the ward began in 2002, but was interrupted in 2012 due to financial constraints.
“Thanks to funding secured by the European Union and the Government of Serbia, the construction works were resumed in June this year and we hope that in 12 to 14 months, as stipulated by the contract, the city of Vranje and the entire Pcinja District would finally have a surgical ward they deserve and need in this day and age,” Mayor Milenkovic said and thanked the EU for the funding it had earmarked for the completion of that capital project.
EU companies investing in Vranje; the Union invested over EUR3.5 million in past three years via European PROGRES
Also, Ambassador and Mayor visited the free zone Bunusevac in Vranje, whose infrastructural development and preparation of technical and planning documents were supported by the EU with nearly EUR700,000. Head of the EU Delegation said that Vranje had an excellent industrial tradition and that it was only natural for investments to pour into that part of Serbia.
“I am happy to know that certain EU companies have invested around EUR28 million here and we call on other businesses to do the same,” Ambassador Fabrizi said.
Mayor of Vranje explained that the EU financed the construction of a road in the Industrial Zone together with supporting installations; another road with two roundabouts is under construction; and a ring road that will connect the Free Zone with Corridor 10, thus contributing to the relocation of cargo traffic from the downtown area.
“The EU has been a long standing partner of the City of Vranje and we have presented a new EU-funded programme to the Mayor, titled EU PRO, which will be focused primarily on economic development,” EU Ambassador Sem Fabrizi said.
He added that accession talks with Serbia were underway, adding that a strong commitment to this goal was visible at both central and local levels.
Vranje Mayor Slobodan Milenkovic underlined that the EU invested more than EUR3.5 million in Vranje through the development programme European PROGRES alone over the past three years, in partnership with the Government of Switzerland, adding that the City was ready to apply for new projects through its own well-developed and well-staffed Office for Local Economic Development.
Better economic and education conditions in Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac with EU support
Head of the EU Delegation Sem Fabrizi continued his visit to South Serbia by visiting Bujanovac where he took part in a meeting with President of the Coordination Body of the Government of the Republic of Serbia for the Municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja Zoran Stankovic, who said that the international community had thus far invested around EUR35 million in this region, together with EUR60 million allocated through the Coordination Body.
Stankovic said he hoped that cooperation with the EU in the coming period would be focused on improving the economic conditions. Head of the EU Delegation said he was happy with projects implemented in the field of education, health care and infrastructure, adding that Serbia’s future was in the EU and that the Union would double down its efforts to support the country on the path to the EU.
In his first official meeting with the President of the Municipality of Bujanovac, Shaip Kamberi, Ambassador Fabrizi pointed out that the EU would continue to support the development of Bujanovac, while the President of the Municipality underlined that only through cooperation with the EU Delegation, the entire international community and national institutions, could the issues of the population in this part of the country be resolved.
In Bujanovac, Head of the EU Delegation visited the Bujanovac Department of the Subotica Faculty of Economics, whose building was erected in 2015 with the support of the EU to the tune of over EUR800,000, allocated through the European PROGRES Programme, and the Government co-funding of EUR208,000. This Faculty is an example of how the EU can contribute to improving education, social integration and economic future of this part of the country, he said, calling on stakeholders to ensure longevity and sustainability of the project.
Ambassador will end his visit to South Serbia by taking part in the Bujanovac Stakeholders’ Committee alongside OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Lamberto Zannier, Head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia Andrea Orizio, President of the Coordination Body for the municipalities of Presevo, Bujanovac and Medvedja and the Mayor of Bujanovac.
The European Union and the Government of Switzerland support activities of the European PROGRESS programme which contributes to sustainable development of south and southwest Serbia, with a total of EUR24.46 million. Approved projects will be aimed at strengthening local administrations; creating an environment that fosters development of infrastructure and economy; and improving the implementation of social inclusion and employment policy. The programme is implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Service (UNOPS).
The municipalities included in the programme – Novi Pazar, Ivanjica, Nova Varos, Priboj, Prijepolje, Raska, Sjenica and Tutin in southwest Serbia, as well as Prokuplje, Blace, Zitoradja, Kursumlija, Leskovac, Bojnik, Vlasotince, Lebane, Medvedja, Crna Trava, Vranje, Bosilegrad, Bujanovac, Vladicin Han, Presevo, Surdulica, Trgoviste, Brus, Aleksinac, Gadzin Han, Doljevac, Merosina, Svrljig, Babusnica, Bela Palanka and Knjazevac in southeast Serbia.