First Hellenic-Serbian High Level Cooperation Council – Joint Decleration

First Hellenic-Serbian High Level Cooperation Council – Joint Decleration

Thessaloniki, 13 July 2017

The President of the Republic of Serbia Mr. Aleksandar Vučić and the Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Alexis Tsipras at the close of the First meeting of the Hellenic-Serbian High Level Cooperation Council, held in Thessaloniki on 13 July 2017.

Reaffirming the excellent level of our bilateral relations based on the close, longstanding and historic bonds that our two nations share, as well as our mutual respect and enhanced cooperation.

Emphasizing the need to work more closely and promote joint initiatives and synergies to the benefit of our peoples, as well as regional security and prosperity.

Reiterating our strong support for stability in the wider region of the Western Balkans, and the need to further cooperate to meet regional challenges on the basis of respect of International Law, including United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

Recalling that nationalistic rhetoric, undemocratic practices, as well as irredentist and revisionist agendas undermine the very core of regional cooperation and consolidation of peace and security in the region;

Reiterating the importance of European Integration Process in the Balkans in full respect of the set conditionalities and recalling our belief that the European Union continues to play a decisive role in maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in Europe, including those countries, which aspire to become part of the EU;

Welcoming Serbia’s orientation towards the EU and its constant and successful efforts for reforms, allowing for a further acceleration of its European course, also in line with the Thessaloniki Agenda, as evolved in a series of European Council and Council Conclusions that followed;

Expressing our will and determination to expand even further our relations in areas of mutual interest;

Have agreed to deepen our strong partnership through regular political dialogue, joint projects and common initiatives bilaterally, as well as at regional and international level, including through trilateral and other formats of cooperation, with a view to consolidating peace and stability, and substantial regional cooperation in Southeast Europe and beyond;

Further strengthen our cooperation on sectoral issues, including infrastructure, construction, energy, economy, trade, tourism and transport, as well as the relevant technical dialogue and exchange of expertise stimulating the overall economic development.

Cooperate closely in the framework of regional economic organizations, including the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) and the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative (AII);

Continue to support the European perspective of Serbia, depending on the will of its people and on its full compliance with all accession criteria and established conditionality, as set by the EU;

Explore all existing possibilities to further enhance our cooperation, with a view to assisting Serbia in its European course through the exchange of experience, expertise and know-how in the implementation of the EU policies;

Further enhance, based on joint efforts, the movement of goods, capital, services and people between our countries, in accordance with the international obligations of the parties;

Facilitate mobility and contacts between the peoples of our countries. In this context, we welcome the signing of a bilateral Agreement on social security matters; and an agreement on mutual recognition of driving licenses.

Identify projects of common interest, promoting the regional and bilateral economic cooperation in general and, in particular, advancing sustainable economic growth and innovation, connecting young people, creating business opportunities, as well as increasing the networking opportunities (start-up companies included) and clustering capacities of the business communities of our two countries.

Promote modern well-connected infrastructure, which is essential to achieving competitiveness, growth and social connectivity in the region, including the Western Balkans, and underline in this context the importance of its further development in the framework of TEN-T corridors. Particular emphasis will be placed on the upgrading of the railway connection Piraeus – Athens – Belgrade; In this vein, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the development of rail transport and we look forward to its implementation.

Encourage future projects of waterway connection between Belgrade and Thessaloniki;

Promote energy connectivity in South East Europe, which is a crucial element for economic development, in order to secure our energy needs and achieve mutually beneficial objectives; In this respect, Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is of particular importance providing a new source of natural gas;

Strongly support the implementation of the Vertical Gas Corridor and the rapid development of all relevant interconnections.  LNG terminals in Greece, the existing in Revithousa, which is under major upgrade and the planned Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) in Alexandroupolis, will constitute an important energy gate providing additional energy alternatives;

Closely cooperate in line with the Energy Community Treaty through the exchange of experience and technology transfer with a view to promoting open and transparent markets.

Broaden our bilateral energy cooperation and, more specifically, the cooperation between the Greek Public Power Cooperation S.A. (PPC) and the Electric Power Industry of Serbia (EPS), in the field of Energy Production. Moreover, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency present an important potential for joint actions; business and technological cooperation in these fields could be achieved, inter alia, by the further cooperation between relevant bodies such as the Hellenic Centre for Renewable Energy and Saving (CRES) and the respective agency of Serbia, as well as synergies between the private sectors of our countries;

Further broaden and enhance our cooperation in the field of technological cooperation, including cooperation between universities and research centers on projects of mutual interest, such as renewable energy sources, environmental protection and climate change;

Strengthen and further enhance our cooperation in the field of tourism. In this vein, we welcome the signing of a relevant cooperation Agreement with the aim to further intensify the bilateral tourist flows;

Encourage the stakeholders from the private tourism sector in both countries to collaborate in joint tourism projects and initiatives in order to facilitate tourism investment and tourism entrepreneurship in both countries.

Cooperate in the exchange of know-how and the promotion of Special Interest Tourism, such as cultural tourism, religious-pilgrimage tourism, city break tourism, MICE tourism, medical tourism in order to mitigate seasonality and showcase the cultural and natural heritage in both countries.

Work more intensively in the framework of the Commission for Europe of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Working Group on Cooperation in Tourism of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), the Round Table on Sustainable Tourism and Culture of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative (AII) and the Thematic Steering Group of Pillar IV on Sustainable Tourism of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR).

Promote our cooperation in the agricultural sector, and, in particular the cooperation in the fields of geographical indicators protection, agricultural research, exchange of know-how, scientific and technical information, as well as scientific research and joint initiatives between research institutes of the two countries;

Encourage and support the establishment of direct contacts between the cultural institutions of the two countries aiming at nurturing and strengthening the mutual understanding between our peoples. In this context, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cultural cooperation

Explore additional ways to advance our military collaboration even further with the aim to meet current challenges. The signing of a protocol on cooperation in the field of military education is an important step to this end

Identify ways of upgrading the collaboration between our law enforcement agencies.

Enhance mutual knowledge and understanding of the work and policies of the respective diplomatic services. In this regard, we welcome the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of diplomatic training.

The Hellenic Republic and the Republic of Serbia declare their willingness, as well as commitment to further strengthen and deepen their strategic cooperation, while making best use of their respective comparative advantage, Greece as a NATO and EU member, as well as a hub of connectivity between Europe and the Middle East, and Serbia by being at the EU path and at the crossroads of Eastern and Western Europe./IBNA