By Kirsten Donovan
DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - With regional tensions in the Balkans making headlines once again, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Wednesday that peace and stability were the main goals for his government.
Participating in the Reuters Global Markets Forum live from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Vucic also said his country remained committed to joining the European Union and believed that the Western Balkans could be a driving force of European economic growth.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
QUESTION: Clearly, there have been a lot of regional flare- ups in the Balkans. Is the region stable, at least from Serbia's point of view?
ANSWER: In a turbulent world, of course it is not always easy to keep a stable Balkans, but we'll invest a lot of effort and that's the most important goal and target for the Serbian government - to keep the peace and stability. We all know that the Western Balkans can be a driving force of European economic growth and we can accomplish that only if we stick together and keep tranquillity and stability.
Q: How could regional instability affect investments and Serbia's finances? Could it deter portfolio investors, people more prone to flee markets at the signs of instability?
A: We will do everything to convince all the investors that we are smart enough not to repeat mistakes from the past. But to take a good and progressive view to the future, which means cooperation - political and economic - between the neighbors, not war and clashes.
Q: Can you tell us how the impending Brexit and the recent U.S. election results have been viewed by the Serbian people?
A: The Serbian people were split, like the British, regarding Brexit, but speaking about the U.S. elections, more than 90 percent of the people were jubilant about Trump's victory. There are several reasons for that but the main reason is an obvious thinking of most of the Serbian people, that America was one-sided and biased in the Balkans conflict.
Q: Do you sincerely believe there's EU appetite to admit new members/Balkan countries/Serbia into the bloc.
A: We know our homework and what we need to do and we'll do our job. We're going to create a better economic environment, although we have already done a lot. We're going to take care of "rule of law" in the future and then it's everything up to the EU member states.
Q: And about Presidential elections - will you run for the Presidency or is there a candidate your party will support, will that be President [Tomislav] Nikolic?
A: No decision on the Presidential elections, I am here to resolve more important issues for Serbia and Serbian people.
Q: Is there still a lot of migration of refugees taking place through the Balkans into Europe?
A: Today, we have 9200 migrants in the territory of Serbia, and yesterday after five days of their presence in the center of Belgrade we convinced 300 to go to our reception centers and to accept our medical help, to get food, beds and blankets. I'm proud and satisfied with that. We'll carry on to bring them all to our reception centers and then after the winter they can go wherever they want.
To read more from Vucic see
(This interview was conducted in the Reuters Global Markets Forum, a chat room hosted on the Eikon platform. For more information on the forum or to join the conversation, follow this link: https://forms.thomsonreuters.com/communities/)