Agreements with UAE in Serbia's interest: PM

BELGRADE, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- Agreements revealed on Thursday by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic show that the Etihad Airways invested 100 million U.S. dollars in the privatization of the state owned airline JAT Airways, while the Serbian government obliged to allocate 42 million.

Disclosing the agreements made with companies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), namely Etihad Airways and Al Rawafed to the public, Vucic assured them on a press conference on Thursday that the both deals are in favor of the domestic side.

Etihad engaged in 2013 in the privatization of the JAT airways, while Al Rawafed and the Serbian government formed joint company in the field of agriculture. Both contracts were however until now held as a business secret.

“All this was made for the benefit of Serbia. Air Serbia is advancing into a leader and it can become the region’s most successful company by 2018,” he said, adding that the Air Serbia will have a positive balance for the first time in years and that the partnership with Etihad will renew the fleet of aircraft and expand the offer of destinations.

Vucic said that the cooperation with Al Rawafed in the field of agriculture is also favorable to Serbia as the country holds 20 percent ownership, while the whole investment in the joint company worth 140 million euros (about 187.6 million dollars) is provided by the partner from the UAE.

According to the contract joint company will cultivate some 10,000 hectares of arable land in Serbia, previously in possession of four bankrupt state companies.

With the consent of the companies from the UAE, agreements that Serbia signed with Etihad and Al Rawafed are now available to the public at the website of Serbia’s government.

Vucic said that on Thursday a sum of 1 billion dollars from the UAE was received by Serbia.

The loan to be paid off at low interest for the next 10 years will according to Vucic “solve the country’s problems with liquidity until March next year”.