Western Balkans

European Union and Serbia – Solidarity in Time of Need

29/03/2020 - 19:27
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The European Union Member States Ambassadors and the Head of the EU Delegation Ambassador Sem Fabrizi published an op-ed for the Politika daily.

“Coronavirus poses an unprecedented challenge. It is an enemy that knows no borders, that threatens the health of all of us and our families. It is endangering the prosperity and security of our communities.

Psychology tells us that facing an enemy the human reaction is fight or flight. In this difficult moment we need to fight, and we need to do it together. As no one has the capacity to win this battle alone we need more than ever to work in a spirit of unity and solidarity, among ourselves and with our closest friends in Serbia and in the Western Balkans

While we are mourning thousands of deaths in our Countries and we are ourselves fighting hard against tremendous sanitary and logistic challenges to control this enemy that is advancing fast, we are also reaffirming our resolve to stand by Serbia and its citizens.

In the space of one week since Serbia has introduced the State of Emergency and has requested assistance, the EU has designed and offered a first and comprehensive package of assistance, worth 93.4 million euros in donations, together with a number of key non-financial assistance measures.

This package includes:

15 million euros for immediate needs:

–  purchase and transport to Serbia of emergency medical equipment and supplies (respirators, masks, gloves) for patients and medical staff;

– support for communities particularly vulnerable to Covid 19.

These are concrete and immediate measures to help saving lives and supporting the most vulnerable. The first deliveries already arrived in Serbia on Thursday 26.

– 78 million Euros for economic recovery:

–   support in particular for SMEs, which represent 90% of Serbian companies.

In addition, we are working with the International Financial Institutions to address the liquidity and financial problems of the private sector, also through additional EU multi-country facilities. Further work is ongoing to ensure the supply of essential goods within the region and with the EU.

This emergency package is built on a very strong, comprehensive and long-lasting basis of joint work. In the health sector alone, the EU has granted and loaned 450 million euros over the past decades to make Serbia’s system more modern and resilient to handling health emergencies: hospitals, laboratories – including the Torlak Institute, blood transfusion centers, ambulances, and medical equipment have been built and delivered all over the Country with EU funds.

Almost all other sectors of Serbia’s society and economy have benefitted from the same positive cooperation.

Dear Serbian friends,

The fight will be hard and the recovery difficult but if we are patient, if we look out for each other, if we put all our forces and ingenuity to work, if we work together, there is no doubt that – as in previous difficult moments, like during the floods  – we will weather this storm, and we will overcome it. Together, as Europeans.

Signed:

The Ambassadors of the 27 Members of the European Union and the Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia”

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