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NIS, Serbia, October 17 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu and Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic opened a building of a regional emergency response centre in the Balkan region in Nis on Monday.
“Nineteen years have passed since our stay in Serbia. We’ve thought about the creation of such centre in the Balkan region,” Shoigu told journalists.
“We hope that the centre will become part of the European emergency response system. I’m sure that such centres will be opened in Europe in the future. But the Serbian centre is the first one and this is the landmark event,” the Russian minister stressed.
He said the centre would begin functioning in full in next April-May.
According to Dacic, the centre will begin operating within several months. “Today we’ve signed documents, which are the next step towards this way. It will begin operating within several months after necessary formalities are ended,” the Serbian minister said.
“In the past 15 years we provided assistance to Europe to cope with the consequences of disasters. We hope that the centre will be more effective in this aspect. We’ve always said such centre are indispensable in Europe because major accidents need joint response,” Shoigu stressed.
“In the present-day world it is practically impossible to alone respond to emergency situations,” the Russian minister noted.
The creation of the regional centre is a Russian-Serbian initiative, which was put forth several years ago. The city of Nis was chosen to create a centre due to its convenient geographical location.
The key task of the centre will be to respond to emergency situations, which can occur in the region. This territory is affected by exposure to emergency risks – floods, landslides, wildfires, experts say.
Dacic said, “The centre has started the idea of creating a humanitarian emergency response centre.”
Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, who also took part in the ceremony, stressed that this event “has strategic significance”. “Serbia and the Balkan region will become more securer for life,” the foreign minister pointed out.
In addition, Shoigu said the two countries would extend an agreement on the work of Russian sappers in the republic for another five years.
“The Russian government provided 16 million U.S. dollars for this purpose. We are planning to extend the agreement. It will expire in 2012,” Shoigu told journalists.
“We’d like to end the mine sweeping operation in Serbia within this period,” the Russian minister said.