Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier is travelling to Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia from 20-22 October. He will be meeting with numerous high-level government representatives, including Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić. He is being accompanied by five members of the German Bundestag and a business delegation.
Minister Altmaier said: “I would like my visit to send out a clear signal in favour of a deepening of our relations with Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia as well as the entire south-eastern European region. I can see plenty of opportunities and potential for German industry and our SMEs. The region has a major opportunity as it moves closer to the EU with a clear prospect for accession. Croatia provides a good example of what is possible. My visit will focus on the issue of skilled workers: it is about meeting the demand for skilled labour – not just in Germany, but also in the Western Balkans. We want to support the countries as they skill their workforce, particularly by helping with the introduction of the dual vocational training system.”
Talks in Croatia are scheduled not least with President Grabar-Kitarović, Prime Minister Plenković and the Economy Minister. Minister Altmaier will open a German-Croatian Business Forum in Zagreb. A key substantive issue will be the forthcoming Croatian Presidency of the EU Council. Germany is advising the Croatian Economy Ministry on cutting red tape. The Croatian Presidency will highlight experience with this advisory project and further cooperation with the Western Balkans, and we will build on this during our subsequent Presidency.
The time in Montenegro will include high-level political discussions and the signing of an administrative partnership on competition law.
In Serbia, Minister Altmaier will be meeting with President Vučić and his ministerial colleagues to discuss a deepening of bilateral economic relations. Minister Altmaier will also meet with participants in the Zoran Djindjić Internship Programme of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations/Eastern Europe Business Association of Germany. The programme offers a chance for up to 75 talented young people to spend three-month to six-month internships in leading German firms in Germany.
The Economic Affairs Ministry is also targeting measures to assist German firms as they introduce dual vocational training in the context of the Skills Expert Programme, to back the Western Balkans Purchasing Initiative, which has existed since 2015, and to support the Digital Summit for the Western Balkans, which was launched in 2018.
Germany has for many years been the most important business partner for the countries of south-eastern Europe. Following Croatia’s accession to the EU, its trade with Germany doubled to €5.3 billion in 2018. Trade with Serbia is also expanding, to €4.7 billion in 2018. Germany’s trade with Montenegro amounted to €145 million.