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Intervista dell’Ambasciatore Manzo al mensile “Industrija”

MENSILE “INDUSTRIJA”
S.E. Giuseppe Manzo, l’Ambasciatore d’Italia in Serbia


1. Quando, un anno e mezzo fa, è stato nominato al presente incarico, qual è stata la Sua impressione sull’economia del Paese? Qualcosa è cambiato, da allora?


When I first got here – a year and a half ago – I was positively impressed by the great extent of the economic relations between Italy and Serbia, with more than 500 Italian companies working here. Today our bilateral relations are even better and your government is working very hard on improving the business environment in the Country to attract new foreign investments, included the Italian ones. Of course, hard times are still in front of us in Serbia, in the EU and all around the globe, but we are all trying to overcome the current economic troubles. In this regard, Serbia is particulary motivated because of its European integration process requiring reforms also to comply with the EU standards.


2. Lei è un sostenitore dell’argomento dell’allargamento UE. Che cosa otterrebbe la comunità dei popoli europei mediante l’accesso dei Paesi candidati nei Balcani occidentali, tra cui la Serbia?


First of all, let me say that Serbia’s and the other Western Balkans Countries’ place is already in Europe when you have a look at the trade relations or you talk with the younger generations. When it comes to politics, Italy see the integration of this Region into the EU as an accomplishment of the project envisaged by the founding fathers of the European Community. We believe that mainly through the integration into the EU, this Region can achieve a complete political stabilization and a steady economic growth, benefiting from a larger market of more than 300 milion Europeans and a space of justice, security and freedom.



3. L’Italia e la Serbia costruiscono i futuri rapporti positivi sulla base di un’amicizia storica. Quanto è disposta l’Italia, come Paese che presiede il Consiglio UE, ad aiutare la Serbia ad aprire il primo capitolo nei negoziati con l’UE?


You can count on Italy’s support as you always have during the last years when Italy has been a strong advocate of Serbia’s path towards EU. Very recently, the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs Paolo Gentiloni urged the EU Council to grant to Serbia the opening of chapter 32 on financial control by the end of the year as a recognition of the great efforts carried out by the Serbian Authorities in the reform process. The same message has been also re-affirmed in a parliamentary resolution that the Italian Senate has unanimously approved few weeks ago asking for the prompt opening of the first chapters. Furthermore, as current President of the EU, Italy has recently launched the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region together with other seven EU and non-EU Countries, Serbia included. This Strategy will give a decisive contribution to the European path of the Western Balkans Countries, promoting further stability and economic growth in the region.


4. Nel nostro Paese sono in corso riforme importanti finalizzate alla ripresa economica. A suo avviso, quanto è importante continuare a lavorare ad un’economia forte e proseguire il cammino sicuro che porta all’accoglienza nella famiglia europea?


It is tremendously important, since the economic growth implies social and political stability. Reforms and extraordinary economic recovery measures are always and everywhere painful in the short run but at the same time they are rewarding in the next future when it comes to improve the public finance, attract fresh investments and put in motion the engine of the economic growth. I believe we should encourage Serbian Government to continue its work, through those actions that will benefit Serbian citizens while advancing Serbia’s European path.



5. Tra investitori stranieri presenti in Serbia l’Italia è in alto alla classifica. Sono numerose le imprese italiane che operano con successo nel nostro Paese, specie nell’ambito dell’industria tessile ed automobilistica. Ci sono indizi che le tendenze possano rimanere tali e quanto potranno aumentare gli investimenti?


Italy is the main trade partner of Serbia and the first foreign investor in the country. Of course, we are well aware that the more Serbia progresses along its European path, opening its economy to new foreign investments, the more competition among international partners becomes harder and harder. But I am pretty confident that more and more Italian companies will continue to look for investments opportunities in Serbia. They come to Serbia mainly because here they find a set of favourable conditions for investments. It is not only about the labour cost but above all about a well-educated manpower, good policies to attract more foreign investors and possibilities to get access to greater markets in Russia and Central Asia through your free-trade agreements. I’m also confident that the recent agreement reached by your Government with the IMF would contribute to attract fresh investments from Italian companies and thus to create new jobs in the medium term.


6. Quali sono i settori economici in cui l’Italia e la Serbia collaborano di più?


As you said, there are Italian textile firms and of course the automotive industry. There is also a strong Italian presence in the banking sector and in the insurance market and more recently in the food processing industry.


7. I risultati della Fiat Serbia contribuiscono all’aumento delle esportazioni del made in Serbia su mercati terzi. Date le agevolazioni particolari per le vendite in Russia, si parla di investire di più nella produzione di nuovi modelli di automobili e nell’aumento della produzione in generale?


The great performance of FAS strongly contributes to increase the Made in Serbia exports on the other markets and to the growth of the trade exchange between Italy and Serbia. Of course, it’s also about the growth of one of the greatest historical brand  of the Italian industry. We hope that Fiat Srbjia will further improve in the coming years.


8. Secondo Lei, come saranno i prossimi tre anni, parlando di relazioni politiche ed economiche tra i nostri due Paesi?


I do not have a crystal ball but I would like to share with you my expectations. Italy will continue to stand by your side on your path to the EU, supporting your further advancements towards the goal of the EU accession. We all really hope that in less than three years the economic crisis will be behind of us and further Italian investments in Serbia will contribute to provide new jobs to the Serbian people.


9. Per concludere, allontaniamoci un po’ dall’economia. Ci dice che cosa Le piace della Serbia e quali sono invece le cose che Le danno fastidio? Lei è nato a Napoli, ci trova qualche cosa in comune con la nostra capitale?


The traffic! Joking aside, it’s the indistructible spirit of your people in the adversities that I find similar to Napolitans and, in general, to the Italians. I like the cosmopolitan style of Belgrade, its parks – particularly Tasmajdan – and the riverside. And let’s leave the talk of what I don’t like when such a thing happens!