The President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic summarized the results achieved this year, while also making several announcements for the upcoming year, at a New Year Eve conference held today.
Vucic boasted of the way Serbia tackled the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that it had fewer corona-related deaths compared to countries in the region – given that more people were hospitalized per 1,000 inhabitants than was the case with Romania or Bulgaria.
The Serbian President also claimed that one of Serbia’s greatest successes was the fact that it was one of the first countries in Europe to procure vaccines against COVID-19.
„No one from the Western Balkans has a vaccine except for Serbia. They will obtain the first vaccines in January,“ he underlined, stressing that „no one will write about it.“
Approximately 77,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive in Serbia in several 20,000-dose deliveries in January (on January 4th, 11th, 19th, and 25th), he also said. Vucic revealed that vaccines of other manufacturers are expected to arrive in Serbia – Russian and Chinese vaccines – provided that the approval for these vaccines is obtained from the National Agency for Medicines and Medical Devices.
„Announcements from Pristina that they would occupy Leposavic“
The president also addressed the negative reactions from Pristina regarding the vaccination against COVID-19 conducted via the Serbian health system in northern Kosovo.
„I want to say that we will continue to take care of the people in Kosovo. What we have done with vaccines shows that. The fact that they control administrative crossings does not mean that they can halt life,“ he said, adding that Serbia did not send armored vehicles, but vaccines. He underlined that Serbia will continue to take care of its people in Kosovo regardless of the reactions from Pristina.
Serbia will help the Kosovo Albanians if it is needed – he emphasized.
Responding to the allegations of the Kosovo Minister of Foreign Affairs, Meliza Haradinaj Stublla that Serbia violated the Brussels Agreement by conducting vaccinations in the north, Vucic said that it would not have crossed the mind of „someone intelligent.“
„I beg you so that I would not have to respond to nonsense – read that point of the Brussels agreement. I ask you all – show me that point of the Brussels agreement. Of course, we did not violate any of them,“ he stated.
He claimed that announcements arrived from Pristina during the night that they „were occupying our (cf. health) center in Leposavic to get our vaccines“ – citing this as a reason why the location of the vaccines was changed during the night.
Such circumstances also jeopardize the conditions for dialogue – Vucic alerted.
„We will wait for better times when some reasonable people will be in charge of negotiations,“ he said, noting that he expects the EU Special Representative for dialogue, Miroslav Lajcak to recognize the best time for negotiations.
„Serbia has fulfilled all the points of the Brussels agreement, and they did not fulfill the one point that makes up 40% of that agreement – the Association of Serb-majority Municipalities,“ he underlined.
The president reiterated that every one of his workdays is burdened by pressures related to the Kosovo issue.
President Vucic also announced investments in North Mitrovica, without revealing further details. He said that the funds will be invested in the hospital in Gracanica – instead of the previously planned 3 million – 6 million dinars will be invested in the construction of that hospital.
Friends with everyone
Speaking of foreign policy, Vucic announced the continuation of the EU integration process. He also said that friendship with those „who did not turn their backs on us when it was most difficult“ will be maintained – specifically Russia and China.
Serbia will also form friendship even with those with whom it is „difficult“ to do so – the United States – Vucic said.
„We will continue the predictable policy, the policy of stability, responsibility, the winning policy.“
Economy – „Serbia is the best in Europe“
„Serbia is a country with the highest growth rate in Europe in 2020. I am proud to be the president of a country that is the most important champion of Europe,“ Vucic said today, adding that he knows that people find it strange because they are taught „that we are losers“.
Speaking of better living standards, the president revealed that his goal is to keep the public debt below 60% GDP next year and for the deficit to be up to 3%. He also said that he expects growth in credit rating.
He also stated that the government’s goal is for the average salary to reach 560-570 euro – around 690 euro in Belgrade – before the end of the year. Vucic also expressed hope that the minimum wage would reach just over 32,000 dinars, while average pensions are planned to increase to 270 euro from the current 250 euro.
The Serbian President recalled that a 5% salary increase for health workers is in the plans starting from January, while the salary of other workers will be increased by 3.5% in January and 5% in total in April.
He announced further investments in the health sector, especially when it comes to the construction of specialized hospitals, as well as several infrastructure projects, especially in the field of road and railway traffic, and plans to improve sewerage lines and build factories for wastewater treatment.
The government and the presidency will continue to jointly attract foreign investments.
„I am particularly pleased that we have changed the state of things in Banat,“ he said, adding that he hopes for even greater investments in the coming period.
Vucic announced investments in sports – primarily football and handball.
In order to preserve stability and peace, Serbia will strengthen its army, he added, and the police will be given assistance in its fight against organized crime.
„Corona, corona, corona“
According to the president, three bad things happened to Serbia in the previous year – corona, corona, and corona – in view of the fact that the pandemic took many lives, that it endangered economic growth, but also that it destroyed lives.
„We have destroyed the normal life of our elderly and youth. We destroyed the normal life of the elderly by making them stay at home, and the youth could not have a normal childhood,“ he concluded.
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