China's Belt and Road Initiative boosts infrastructural development in Serbia, helps the country maintain and create jobs, and increases bilateral economic cooperation, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said here on Monday.
Attending the third international conference organized by the Belgrade Strategic Dialogue titled "Belt and Road Initiative in the Balkans", Brnabic said the citizens of Serbia can already see the results of the Belt and Road Initiative in the construction of new roads and bridges, the reconstruction and modernization of railways, the implementation of energy and environmental protection projects, as well as in enhanced cooperation between the companies of the two countries.
Brnabic estimated that the Chinese companies already present in the Serbian market have preserved 5,000 jobs at the Smederevo steelworks,which was taken over by Hesteel in 2016, and will secure another 5,000 jobs at the Mining and Smelting Combine Bor, thanks to China's Zijin Mining Group.
"We look forward to continuing cooperation in a number of other projects, including education, which is high on the list of priorities of the Serbian government," Brnabic said, highlighting that the Ivo Andric Serbian Cultural Center, the second of its kind in the world, opened in Beijing on Nov. 29.
"A consistent policy of openness and noninterference in the internal affairs of other countries has made China a great friend and a sincere partner for all who share the same kind of benevolent attitude towards the world," Brnabic noted.
Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Li Manchang said there is great potential for cooperation between China and Serbia in agriculture and the construction of industrial parks at several locations across the country.
"We need to understand and help each other...China wants to share its experiences with others who are willing to cooperate," he added.
Austrian diplomat Wolfgang Petrich, who also participated in the conference, said the Western Balkans may play a decisive role in future cooperation between China and the EU.
He explained that the region is a transit zone between the east and west of Europe, and the European Union remains the most important economic partner of western Balkans countries.
Petrich suggested that the establishment of a common set of rules between China and EU, saying that will be crucial to avoid potential conflicts of interests and parallel projects.