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Netherlands offers emergency aid to Serbia

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The Netherlands is providing €500,000 in emergency aid for the areas of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina worst hit by flooding. Minister of Foreign Affairs Frans Timmermans, also speaking on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen, announced this today during his visit to Serbia.

‘This has been a heavy blow for very many people,’ Mr Timmermans said. ‘Houses have been washed away and part of the harvest has been lost. Many people don’t have anything to fall back on. They don’t have any savings or insurance. The Netherlands is touched by their plight, and we want to show our solidarity by helping to provide disaster relief.’

In addition to a financial contribution, the Netherlands has offered to provide expertise in water and crisis management through the Dutch Risk Reduction Team. Two water experts are already on hand to provide assistance in the areas affected and to catalogue the effects of the flooding.

During his visit, Mr Timmermans spoke to Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić and others about the efforts being made to deal with the impact of the flooding. These talks also addressed regional cooperation. The Netherlands attaches great importance to the stability of the Balkans. ‘Our offer of emergency aid to Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is coupled with a request to work together to ensure that the aid reaches the right places and to make joint plans to improve water management. The Netherlands will be glad to assist with these efforts too,’ Mr Timmermans said. The ministers also agreed to strengthen economic ties between the Netherlands and Serbia.

In Novi Sad, Mr Timmermans and his counterpart Mr Dačić opened the region’s biggest agricultural fair, which draws more than 300,000 visitors each year. This year the Netherlands is partner and co-organiser of the fair, and 20 Dutch firms are represented there. ‘Serbia has the potential to become a regional agricultural superpower and Dutch firms have the expertise to help them make it happen,’ Mr Timmermans said.