By Talha Ozturk
BELGRADE, Serbia (AA) - Serbia ranked first among 38 European economies in terms of year-on-year growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter, President Aleksandar Vucic said Tuesday.
In a statement from Serbia's Foreign Ministry, Vucic said Serbia is the first in Europe in terms of economic growth, which was possible owing to the reform measures taken since 2014 and the rapid opening of the country after the first wave of the novel coronavirus.
He pointed out that Serbia registered growth of 5.2% in the first quarter, while the eurozone was at minus 3.2%. In the second quarter, Serbia had growth of minus 6.3%, while the eurozone was at minus 14.7%, and in the third quarter, when the eurozone was at minus 4.3%, Serbia's figure was only minus 1.4%.
He added that Montenegro, for example, recorded as much as minus 26% in the third quarter.
"These are unprecedented results for Serbia. Was Serbia ever before the first in Europe in terms of the growth rate? We will get the results on March 31, which will confirm that Serbia is number one in Europe. All that was possible thanks to people who believed in difficult changes,” Vucic said.
Serbia this year expects as many as six highways to be built, including new connections from the Serbian border to Bulgaria's capital Sofia to be completed by the end of the year.
Vucic emphasized that in 2020, the so-called year of the corona, Serbia had a net inflow of foreign direct investment amounting to EUR 2.9 billion and EUR3 billion gross, which means that many foreign companies such as Toyota Tires, Boysen, ZTF and Brose had invested in Serbia even in this year of crisis.
He said Serbia has the highest average wages in the region, amounting to 511 or 512 euros, and that in February, due to the January increase, the average wage will be 535 or 536 euros, and that only in Belgrade in the last seven years the average wage increased by 180 euros or 40%.
"Serbia was fourth in the region in terms of salaries before, and today, we are officially the first, and the difference in relation to other countries will only increase faster," said Vucic.
Vucic said he believes that 2021 will be better than 2020 and that the coronavirus will be defeated through the vaccination of citizens.
Earlier, Finance Minister Sinisa Mali said that amid the conditions of the biggest economic crisis ever, Serbia is number one in Europe according to perhaps the most important indicator when it comes to the economy, and that is the growth rate of its GDP.