National Assembly Deputy Speaker with Director-General of SIDA

Sweden's Support for Strengthening Ties between Serbia and the Diaspora

May 15, 2024
Photo: Peđa Vučković

Belgrade, 15 May 2024 - The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairperson Marina Ragus met today with the Director-General of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) Jakob Granit.

The meeting marked the launch of project "Promotion of Circular Migration", implemented, with the support of SIDA, by the organisation Returning Point in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The meeting was also attended by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden in Serbia Anika Ben David and the UNDP Serbia Resident Representative Yakup Beris.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairperson Marina Ragus thanked SIDA for supporting this important initiative in Serbia, saying that it is key to establishing a long-term and comprehensive approach to the issue of circular migration, as an engine of local development, as part of a broader response to depopulation. She also pointed out that Returning Point achieved enviable results in previous years and, with the support of all partners, grew into a civil society organisation, and especially thanked UNDP for its commitment and enabling Sweden's contribution through this project.

SIDA General-Director Jakob Granit said that Serbia and Sweden enjoy a long and successful cooperation in development projects. "The goal of Sweden's development aid is to support Serbia in the process of European integration, primarily in the areas of democracy and human rights, peace building, environmental protection and inclusive economic development. Development aid also plays an important role in strengthening the positive effects of circular migration, which is why supporting this project is very important to us," Granit said. He added that the project will enable the inclusion of the diaspora and support the return of the highly educated, which will contribute to the overall development of Serbia, adding that he hopes the abundant Serbian diaspora living and working in Sweden will also get involved and contribute.

UNDP Serbia Resident Representative Yakup Beris reminded the attending that UNDP has been supporting the Returning Point since the foundation of the organisation. "Circular migrations are part of the strategic response to the challenges of depopulation. They enable better use of the potential represented by the skills, knowledge and contacts of Serbian people in the diaspora, which can significantly contribute to local economic development. Also, this initiative helps build long-term and stable ties between the citizens in the diaspora and Serbia, as well as their return to the country and starting a business, when they decide to do so," stressed Beris. He thanked the SIDA General-Director for supporting this project, as well as the National Assembly Speaker and the Government of Serbia for the partnership with UNDP.

Director of Returning Point Uroš Živković, presented the project's activities which will include further involvement of the private and public sector, local talents, individuals and international organisations in order to use the potential of circular migration for local development in a systematic and sustainable way. "The plan is to pilot various digital and social models that will provide returnees with opportunities to better connect with Serbia and contribute to its social and economic growth, as well as further development of support for young people to circulate more easily, go for academic training abroad and return to the country with new knowledge and experience," said Živković.