Civic Chamber Secretary Lidia Mikheyeva and Chairman of the Social and Economic Council of the Republic of Serbia and Minister of Labor, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs of the Republic of Serbia Zoran Djordjevic signed a Memorandum of Cooperation and Understanding between the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation and Social and the Economic Council of the Republic of Serbia during a Civic Chamber plenary session on December 9.
Zoran Djordjevic noted that the Republic of Serbia had been going through hard times during the transition period in the late 20th and early 21st centuries following the collapse of the former state. According to Djordjevic, the unemployment rate in the country stood at 23 percent in 2012, before the reforms, and is down to 9 percent today.
“Serbia is a country with a stable economic foundation and a favorable climate for foreign direct investment,” Djordjevic said. “New jobs were created, and public sector salaries and pensions were increased.”
He also noted that the Republic of Serbia’s social policy includes all citizens from children, youth and able-bodied citizens to older people who exercise their right to housing, affordable social services, socialization support and family solidarity. Much attention is paid to youth, because young people are exceptionally important for a society which is getting older every year, he said.
“The mission of the state is to make sure no one is left without a job,” he said. “In this respect, we started developing a social card to get a bigger and clearer picture of who is in our society, and to what extent people need social help as a direct assistance tool. Trade unions and associations of employers engage in activities under the Social and Economic Council, which reports to the President of the Republic of Serbia. We are striving to ensure that the council participates energetically in the reforms, which aim to improve our work and to adopt new norms and strategic plans.”
Lidia Mikheyeva emphasized the importance of signing the Memorandum of Cooperation and Understanding between the Republic of Serbia and the Russian Federation.
“We are seeing the Civic Chamber’s international cooperation growing stronger each year,” she said. “I would even go as far as saying that a cross-border civil society is taking shape. We all need to move toward this end.”
According to Ivan Abazher
, member of the Civic Chamber Commission on Security and Liaison with the Public Monitoring Commissions (PMC), who recently visited Belgrade as part of a delegation from the Republic of Crimea, the Memorandum of Cooperation is a sensible follow-up to the strategic partnership between the two countries. The social activist praised the prospects for this relationship, especially in light of the meeting of the presidents of Russia and Serbia in Sochi.
“Everyone, including the authorities, activists and representatives from the Russian regions, has made real progress in building relations between the two states not only in terms of foreign policy activity, but also in other areas of cooperation,” he said. “I believe it makes sense to think about possible cooperation with the Civic Chamber commissions.”
The areas of cooperation outlined in the memorandum include strengthening the traditions of friendship, solidarity and mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries; promoting cultural exchanges and popularizing the Russian language in Serbia and the Serbian language in Russia; organizing joint meetings at the expert level, as well as exhibits for cultural and awareness projects. In addition, the memorandum provides for sharing experience among youth organizations and student movements; promoting student internships and graduate employment; managing employment and employment centre activities; introducing state-of-the-art innovative technology at small- and medium-sized companies; promoting voluntary programs between the countries, in particular, preserving historical and cultural legacy, promoting healthcare and conducting public awareness campaigns; and popularizing and promoting mutual tourism between Russia and Serbia.
The Social and Economic Council of the Republic of Serbia was instituted in 2001 by the Government of Serbia, the Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the Independence Trade Unions Branch, the Association of Free and Independent Trade Unions and the Serbian Employers Union.