Today, the first cargo Boeing 747 supported by the EU landed at Nikola Tesla Airport carrying a Serbian procurement of more than 40 tonnes of emergency medical supplies and equipment to combat COVID-19.
The cost of this transport is fully funded by the European Union response package measures for Serbia. The flight, managed by UNDP, is enabling emergency supplies and equipment to be brought in the quickest way, this special transport utilises a huge cargo plane to maximise space, save precious time and costs.
The cargo delivery funded by the EU is the first deliverable out of the 93 mil EUR package for Serbia announced yesterday by the European Union, which provides immediate as well as short and medium term assistance to help Serbia to fight COVID-19.
“The virus knows no boundaries and we are all facing the same challenge. And together we need to fight this enemy.
When the virus was at its peak in Asia the European Union delivered 65 million tonnes of supplies and medical equipment to China to save lives and help the health system. It also sent rescue planes to repatriate European nationals and Serbian citizens who were stranded in Wuhan and other affected regions.
Now that that the virus has reached Europe the EU has enhanced its response mechanism. While we are mourning the deaths of thousand of citizens in the EU, we are resolved to stand by Serbia and its citizens in full and concrete solidarity, responding to immediate and long term needs”, says Ambassador Fabrizi.
The 93 million euro package for Serbia to fight COVID-19 presented on Wednesday 25 March by Commissioner Várhelyi includes financial assistance for up to 15 million euros for immediate needs for the health system and 78 million euros for economic recovery, particularly for SMEs.
This first plane supported by the EU which arrived today is the first deliverable of this package, which contains an inclusive and comprehensive set of measures to address the different needs of Serbia.
“We are facing difficult times. We need support and solidarity. Together we shall overcome this struggle” says Fabrizi.
“We see how many lives are being lost every day in the EU. Thanks to them for helping us all together, China, the European Union, and the United Nations and us from the Republic of Serbia, who from our budget and through diplomatic efforts made it possible to welcome another plane of assistance tonight,” said Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.
“UNDP is very happy to be able to assist the Government of Serbia, which is responding to the crisis over the corona virus. This is the first of many flights with the necessary medical equipment. We are also proud to partner with the EU, building on our already good cooperation since the migrant crisis, ” said UNDP Permanent Representative in Serbia Francine Pickup.
The European Union is Serbia’s accession partner, biggest investor, trade partner and donor. Since the beginning of Serbia’s accession talks in 2014, the EU has donated to Serbia almost 2 billion euros of non-refundable grants to support the modernisation of the country.
In the health sector alone the EU has granted and loaned 450 million euros over the past decades to Serbia to make the system more modern and resilient.