Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu on Monday said it was important for the commercial exchanges between Romania and Serbia to be stimulated, showing that he had agreed with his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selakovic to organise in 2022 a new session of the joint economic committee, as well as a business forum.
“Among the priority cooperation areas that we have talked about today there was also the cooperation in the economy area, the Republic of Serbia is an important commercial partner of Romania in the region. Last year we registered commercial exchanges worth almost 2 billion euro, which this year, according to the available data, are increasing. It is very important to stimulate this effort even more, this process, and that is why we have agreed today to organise this year, as soon as possible, a new session of the joint economic committee between our countries, as well as a business forum to stimulate the connections between our business communities and the development of our economic cooperation in general,” said Aurescu after the meeting with his Serbian counterpart.
The Serbian Minister added that export to Romania stands at almost one billion euros.
“This year we have a 7.5 percent increase. We have banned at some point the cereal export to Romania, however we are positive we shall increase this type of exchanges. There is room for enriching these relations,” Nikola Selakovic said.
The discussions between the two officials were also aimed at the sectoral cooperation, a context in which Minister Aurescu hailed the signing by the relevant ministers of the agreement on establishing the motorway connection between Timisoara and Oravita and the high speed road between Belgrade and Vatin.
“Also in the transport area we have talked today about the importance of resuming the circulation of international trains between the two countries, I mean the passenger trains, for which a solution must be found at the shortest time,” the Romanian foreign minister said.
The two ministers also talked about the cooperation in the energy area.
“I have underscored the need and importance Romania grants to creating he Arad-Mokrin gas interconnector, and the electricity interconnections between the two countries,” Aurescu said.
The discussions also tackled the prospects of resuming the Interreg-IPA transborder cooperation programme between Romania and Serbia with the employment of the corresponding European funds worth approximately 88 million euro. The Romanian minister pointed out that this programme has been completed for the 2021-2027 scheduling period and will be launched in September if all requirements are met.
Minister Aurescu reiterated Romania’s full support for Serbia’s European course and the availability to grant technical or other kind of support, if needed.
“We have discussed the importance this European course of Serbia has, which, in Romania’s point of view, must be completed as soon as possible with the accession as a full fledged member in the EU,” he said.
The Serbian Minister thanked for Romania’s support for his country’s European course.
“I particularly want to voice my gratitude to Romania which has been supporting the territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia and the observance of the rights of the Serbians in Kosovo,” Nikola Selakovic said.
Furthermore, the two officials discussed the effects of the war in Ukraine, aspects related to the stability of the Western Balkans as well as other topics.
Aurescu: Luceafarul building in Vrsac, a space for promoting Romanian culture and spirituality
Romanian Foreign Minister Bogdan Aurescu and his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selakovic signed a government agreement on Monday under which the Serbian government will transfer to the Romanian government, free of charge, ownership of the Luceafarul building in Vrsac.
Aurescu said that the use of this building as the headquarters of the Romanian consulate general in Vrsac as well as a space to promote Romanian culture and spirituality in Serbia is being considered.
“The signing of this agreement brings to fruition the sustained efforts we made at the level of Romanian diplomacy for the acquisition of this building that has special significance from the perspective of the Romanian cultural and spiritual heritage in the Republic of Serbia. It is one of the most impressive buildings in Vrsac, Serbia, located in the city centre on a plot of over 2,400 square metres, built since 1894 and put into use in 1904 by the local Romanian elite – priests, lawyers, landowners. The initial purpose of the building was to host bank Luceafarul, which would fund the agricultural activity of local Romanians, but soon it became the epicentre of the actions to promote the Romanian cultural and spiritual identity in Serbia. The compound belonged to Romanians for over 50 years, generating and concentrating a cultural effervescence that gave strength, cohesion and continuity to everything that was Romanian in the neighbouring country in a difficult period from a historical and political point of view. (…) The actual takeover will take place on a diplomatically agreed date after the agreement enters into force. We are considering the use of this compound both as the headquarters of the consulate general in Vrsac and as a space to promote the Romanian culture and spirituality in the Republic of Serbia,” said Aurescu.
He said he had discussed with his Serbian counterpart the idea of opening cultural institutes or cultural centres in Belgrade, Serbia, with a branch in Vrsac and in Romania.
The two foreign ministers also signed a governmental agreement on co-operation in the areas of education, science, culture, media, youth and sports.
“It is a co-operation document that will create important opportunities for the younger generations, for interpersonal exchanges, that will stimulate mutual interest in capitalising on the common cultural heritage and that will facilitate a better understanding of the mechanisms that underlie the functioning of our societies in close connection with contemporary challenges and resettlements, including of values and rules. The agreement also contains educational provisions that have a direct connection with the persons belonging to the related national minorities from Romania and Serbia,” said Aurescu.
He added that he had agreed with his Serbian counterpart that a new session of the Joint Intergovernmental Commission on National Minorities would take place by the end of the year, where commission’s second protocol would be signed.
Selakovic underscored that Serbia respects the rights of national minorities.
“We perceive national minorities as a bridge between their mother countries. (…) We as a state respect all standards relating to human rights and the rights of national minorities,” said Selakovic.