At the official ceremony that also highlighted the three-decade-long partnership between the two countries, guests were addressed by H.E. Mr. Urs Schmid, Ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of Serbia, on behalf of Swiss Confederation and H.E., Mrs. Andjelka Atanaskovic, Minister of Economy, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Serbia. The Program was presented by Mr. Richard Kohli, Head of Cooperation of the Embassy of Switzerland in the Republic of Serbia. Later, the guests had the possibility to see the video address by Prof. Dr. Ursula Renold, from ETH Zürich, Department of Management, Technology, and Economics on the state of advancement of the dual vocational education and training system (VET) in Serbia and challenges ahead.
“With today’s event, we are launching an official development assistance package with a total value of more than 90 million Euros. It will allow us to continue our commitment with the reform efforts of the Serbian government and Serbian society for the next four years, from 2022 to 2025“ – stated the Ambassador of Switzerland Mr. Urs Schmid. He added: “Our bilateral cooperation program represents without doubt a corner stone of our bilateral relations, yet by far not the only one. Swiss – Serbian relations are very dynamic and multi-layered which provides a solid basis for further dedicated work, among other things on the strengthening of the rule of law and the better anchoring of democratic practice. This will ultimately allow your country and my country to fully and mutually benefit from an enormous, not yet fully tapped potential of cooperation”, concluded Ambassador Schmid.
The Minister of Economy, Andjelka Atanaskovic, pointed out that this event is a significant step forward in strengthening economic cooperation between the two friendly countries, and that the Swiss Confederation has been one of the five countries with the largest investments of non-residents in Serbia. The Minister also stated that it is particularly important that Swiss companies in Serbia today employ more than 12,000 workers. "I would like to emphasize that, according to the data of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, only in the first two months of this year, exports worth 28.9 million euros were realized from Serbia to Switzerland, which is an increase of 18.9 percent compared to the same period in 2021. In the same period, imports from Switzerland increased by 93.3 percent and reached the amount of 86.6 million euros" the minister stated.
Mr. Richard Kohli, Head of Cooperation of the Swiss Embassy presented the goals of the new Programme and pointed out that the Cooperation Programme with Serbia is a strategic framework for the Swiss support to Serbia, inspired by European values and standards. „The focus of the new Programme will be put on promoting local governance reforms and social inclusion of citizens, their participation in democratic processes and the support toward achieving the goals of the Agenda 2030” stated Kohli. He added that efforts for anchoring dual VET will be increased and promoting the competitiveness of small and medium sized enterprises and improving business-enabling environment continued. Finally, a renewed emphasizes will be given to fight climate change, both with mitigation and adaptation measures.
The Swiss Cooperation Programme for Serbia 2022-25 is a continuation of the long-standing engagement in support of Serbian reform agenda. As a sign of its commitment to the Swiss-Serbian partnership, Switzerland has been uninterruptedly present in the country since 1991. Until now, the financial support amounts to EUR 400 million, with additional EUR 95 million earmarked for the period 2022-2025. Switzerland will stay committed and continue to further support Serbia’s reform processes for the well-being of its citizens.