The UN Industrial Development Organization and the International Centre for the Transmission and Promotion of Solar Technology (UNIDO ISEC) is organising an investment forum in Beijing on November 3, where the focus will be on Croatia. It was confirmed the Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang will attend, while on the Croatian side the minister for regional development and EU funds Gabrijela Žalac will participate. UNIDO ISEC has allocated EUR 13bn for investment with some projects already prepared for signing at the forum. This includes the approval of a grant to Croatia for the reconstruction of the war-torn areas in the amount of USD 1.2bn. Others include establishment of the European Centre for UNIDO ISEC in Croatia; Zadar container terminal; Zadar airport; restructure of the shipbuilding industry and the first national stadium with solar energy in cooperation with HNS. The participants in the realisation of these projects include the United Nations; the World Bank; the Chinese Development bank; China’s Export-Import bank and the newly established Chinese Agency for International Development and Cooperation.
Croatia expects to meet the technical criteria for the Schengen zone by the end of the year with hopes to join by 2020. This was announced by the Croatian state secretary Terezija Gras, who added that control over the EU’s external borders is the most demanding aspect of Croatia’s preparations, pointing out the country already has a fully equipped border with Serbia as well as the border with Bosnia, Reuters reports. According to Gras, membership in the Schengen zone would help improve security in Croatia and the wider EU, while the free movement of people would also benefit the economy, tourism in particular, she said in an interview with Reuters. Croatia is one of six EU member states that are not members of the Schengen zone. The zone includes 22 EU member states plus four countries which are not part of the bloc – Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. When the European Commission approves the accession of a country to the Schengen zone, EU member states need to confirm that decision at a political level. However, there could be a “stumbling block” for Croatia over a border dispute with Slovenia, Reuters notes. Gras, however, believes it will be possible to find a solution that will benefit both countries, she told Reuters.
Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić announced three major projects by his government in the next three years – building 8,086 low-cost apartments, investing EUR 1bn in healthcare and a further EUR 100m in technological development. Vučič said that “One billion Euros for healthcare” is an important project, with many reforms needing to take place. One of the biggest problems is lack of nurses who keep leaving. Vučić said he will personally advocate for nurses to get a high salary increase. “We spend 20% of our budget on health – more than on any other sector. But we don’t see any results”, he said. The construction of cheap apartments will affect the growth of Serbia’s GDP, which will be more than 4%, said Vučić. “Thanks to the reforms and austerity measures, the time has come for policemen and soldiers to get a chance for a decent life,” he said. The plans for a second phase will see a construction of 10,000 apartments and will include other population categories, Vučić added.