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Interview with Morten Skovgaard Hansen the Head of Mission

11.03.2016  08:51
”Denmark very openly supports the progress and reforms made by Serbia”, says Morten Skovgaard Hansen, Head of Embassy of Denmark in Serbia.
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Photo: Newsweek, Marina Lopicic

Morten  Skovgard Hansen, Charge d’ affaires of the Kingdom of Denmark in Serbia and currenty the Head of Mission at the Embassy of Denmark, since this mission has not yet got a new ambassador.
He speaks of (Denmark's) relations with Serbia and the country's progress towards the European Union.

How do you evaluate the relations between Serbia and Denmark?

The relations between Serbia and Denmark are really good. I also see it in the context of the EU accession negotiations.
Denmark very openly supports Serbia's progress and the related reforms.
On the other hand, you can expect honest comments from us and our EU partners when we do not see the changes that are needed. In addition to the political support, Denmark is also supporting Serbia through bilateral projects.

For many years we have had a close cooperation in the area of defense.
As one of Serbia's donors regarding the current migration crisis, Denmark has donated funds to the 'Danish Refugee Council' as well as 'Save the Children'.
Then again, there is also our support through the Fruits and Berries program in Southern Serbia which has contributed to Serbia's impressive increase in production of raspberries.
As for the future I believe the continued strengthening of commercial ties will be a strong asset in our relations.
Also I am very happy to see that more and more Danish tourists are coming to Serbia.

How much has Serbia progressed towards EU path, according to you?

Serbia is making good progress towards the EU as it also appears from the latest report from the European Commission.
We recognize the reforms that have already been passed, especially regarding the business environment.
Obviously the proces is in its initial phase, but the foundations for change that are being laid these years are pivotal.  
The opening of the first chapters in December was an important step and a clear sign that Serbia is on the right track.
In the further process implementation and the situation on the ground in all areas will be decisive. Legislation is not enough.
In particular I would hope to see changes regarding the role of civil society, media and independent institutions in society.
Same goes for the judicial sector which we know the government is working on strengthening.
Environment is another important area and we will try to assist with expertise also through Danish companies being involved in public private partnerships.
The good thing is that citizens of Serbia will benefit greatly from many of these reforms, just ask people if they would like to have cleaner air.

What is the interest of the Danish companies to open a business club?

I am very glad that there are more Danish companies interested in this market.
Companies from various sectors are sending us inquiries abour Serbia, and the precondition lies in the implementation of the reforms and a stable business environment.
The business club will provide a platform for information sharing and meetings with relevant stakeholders.

How many Danish companies are doing business in Serbia at this moment?

Around 40 companies. The trend is positive – we have seen the growth of their exports last year and the beginning of this year as well.
Danish companies have already contributed to the creation of thousands of workplaces in Serbia.
Their experiences are positive, which also contributes to Serbia's good image as a potential investment partner.

Does Serbia create an adequate business environment for attracting foreign investors? What are the main problems that the companies encounter?

As mentioned before, there is a clear improvement in the business environment, but as it appears from international indexes there is still some way to go.
Implementation is of fundamental importance.
We encourage the Government to continue its work on reforms - judiciary and public sector, reducing and simplifying of bureaucratic procedures.
There is a huge potential for the future, my hope is that Serbia will reap the maximum of them.

You can read the interview in Serbian on the following link: http://www.newsweek.rs/srbija/70939-danska-iskreno-podrzava-srbiju-na-putu-za-eu.html