Gratitude on solidarity, support after catastrophic floods
Belgrade/Brussels, 16 July 2014 – President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic thanked participants in the international donors’ conference held in Brussels today for the purpose of raising aid for Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) after the catastrophic floods in May this year on the solidarity and support provided.
Nikolic informed participants in the donors’ conference that the Serbian government, after a thorough evaluation in cooperation with the EU and the UN, made a report and assessment of flood damage, which amounts to €1.5 billion.
He said that the greatest damage was inflicted on the housing sector, health, education, agriculture, the system of flood protection, mining and energy, manufacturing and trade, water supply, wastewaters and waste, environment, transport and communications.
We will have to fight the immediate consequences of floods for years, and it is certain that this natural disaster will cause a recession in the Serbian economy, the President of Serbia said.
He conveyed a strong gratitude to President of France Francois Hollande, who without hesitation accepted the proposal that his country be the sponsor of this solidarity conference, to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the EU, and especially Slovenia, on the organisation of today's event and hospitality.
The Serbian President recalled that our country has received assistance at the bilateral level from 14 countries - Germany, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Austria, Czech Republic, France, Denmark, Romania, Russian Federation, Belarus, Hungary, Croatia, Macedonia and Montenegro.
Emergency aid in food, water and equipment was sent by the European Commission, OSCE, UN, World Food Programme, as well as Azerbaijan, Belarus, Great Britain, Israel, Japan, Romania, Russian Federation, United States, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkmenistan and numerous private donors, Nikolic specified and stressed the important role of various international teams during floods.
According to him, in addition to emergency measures, Serbia expects that the EU will provide support through the EU Solidarity Fund, in which Serbia will be treated as a member.
European Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said that the responsibility for the recovery from flood rests primarily on Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, which should be included in regional and European programmes of defence against natural disasters.
Fule underlined that prevention is cheaper than repairs after an accident, and that investment in prevention always pays off.
He pointed out that donors will provide part of funds for reconstruction, but that it is up to the countries that were affected by floods to use these funds to their best ability, and announced that in six months a conference will be held to check how the funds were used.
Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina should get involved in the European System of Civil Protection to adopt best practices, harmonise procedures with EU member states and thus develop the capacity for its own protection mechanisms, Fule said.