Austria continues the firm support to Serbia’s course towards the EU, because we believe Europe cannot be complete without all countries of the West Balkans, departing Austrian Ambassador in Belgrade Clemens Koja stated for the International Radio Serbia. Our reporter Sandra Pekic has conducted the interview.
The EU is not a mere economic project, but also has the mission to reconcile peoples, says Koja. It is also the project of peace and regional cooperation. Unfortunately, after WWII, another war conflict took place in the West Balkans, adds Koja, while expressing hope that the problems will be overcome and the whole region will build the common future within the EU. According to him, Austria will support the necessary reforms and all steps that Serbia has to make on the European path. The good political relations between the two countries are testified to by this year’s visit of Austrian president Heinz Fischer to Belgrade, says our collocutor. The excellent economic cooperation shows that our states are not limited to good political relations only, underlines Koja.
“After almost four years in Belgrade, I can say that Austria and Serbia are partners in many areas. There are 400 Austrian companies working today in Serbia. In general, we are satisfied, but we know it can always be done better and more. Unfortunately, I have to point to lot of problems with inefficient administration here. Once that is solved, Serbia will have much better business setting”, explains the Austrian Ambassador.
Koja has emphasized that one of the reasons why Austria is firmly in support of Serbia in its European integrations is the link that exists between Vienna and Belgrade – the Serbs living in Austria. He says it means almost 300 thousand Serbs or Serbian citizens, as well as many Austrians with Serb origins. According to him, they are reinforcing the Serbian-Austrian ties, despite certain differences between the two peoples.
“While I was living in Rome, I found the book ‘Austria, an ordered country’. It is the best description of my country. Austria is ordered, maybe even too much. But I also have immense respect for the Serbian creativity, especially in art. When speaking of Serbia, it is interesting that even today one can see the difference between the parts that were long time under the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and those that were under the Turks. We are talking totally different concepts of life. I would say the difference is best seen in desserts – in the north you have the apple strudel, and in the south the baklava”, says Koja.
However, it is of the utmost importance that in the future Serbia continues working on the reforms and economy, to ensure the respect to the adopted laws and secure ambiance, not only for the foreign investors, but for all citizens”, concluded departing Austrian Ambassador in Belgrade Clemens Koja.