The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Ivica Dacic addressed the conference of the representatives of Parliaments of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative on the digital society.
THE FOLLOWING IS THE SPEECH OF THE SPEAKER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY OF THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA IN ITS ENTIRETY:
"Dear President Pahor,
Dear Chairman, Mr. Zorcic
I greet you on behalf of the Republic of Serbia and the National Assembly, and I would like to first express my gratitude to the Slovenian Presidency of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative for organising this meeting on such an important topic. I am sorry that we are forced to continue working in this regime, but I hope that the conditions will soon be created to renew our live meetings and continue cooperation at full speed. Serbia chaired the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative last year, and I, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, was forced to hold a ministerial meeting in a virtual format due to epidemic restrictions, but I hope that we will soon overcome the pandemic and that our next meetings will be live.
On behalf of the Republic of Serbia, I would like to take this opportunity to confirm our commitment to the goals of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative as an effective mechanism for cooperation between the countries of the region within the EU macro-region. Through this initiative, regional cooperation and European policy are united at the operational level, which are our most important state priorities. The Republic of Serbia is very interested in further cooperation in the field of European integration, because cooperation with its neighbours and joining the European Union are our strategic commitment, which have the National Assembly’s absolute support.
I am especially pleased that the topic of our meeting today is also one of the social and economic priorities of the Republic of Serbia, in the realisation of which the National Assembly has an important role. I would like to inform you that we recently held the founding meeting of the Parliamentary Digital Security Network, on 30 March, and the first topic was the safety of children on the Internet. The main task of this voluntary, non-partisan and informal Network is the digital education of children and parents, and the goal is to contribute to security on the Internet and to work on raising awareness about possible abuses.
Serbia is a highly digitalised society, where nearly four million of our citizens use the Internet every day, and 80% of households have an Internet connection. The Serbian Government marked digitalisation as a priority five years ago, with the basic goal of encouraging an even more dynamic development of economic and social potentials.
As one positive effect, we can already say that, with the help of digitalisation, the pandemic's impact on some of the vital systems, such as education, e-commerce and public administration, has been successfully amortised, enabling businesses and the society to function during the pandemic. On the other hand, the greater use of digital technologies has, as expected, led to a greater need for digital security, defined in Serbia by the 2016 Law on Information Security. This Law pays special attention to the security of children when using information and communication technologies and the Internet.
We pay special attention to this segment, so in order to protect children on the Internet, we established the National Contact Centre for Child Safety on the Internet four years ago, which is there to report violence, as well as to educate and prevent abuse.
In general, Serbia has a comprehensive approach to information security with the aim of protecting the entire information system. According to the Estonian cybersecurity index, the Republic of Serbia ranks 17th out of 160 surveyed countries, thanks to the National Centre for the Prevention of Security Risks in Information and Communication Systems.
Speaking of legislation in the field, the Strategy of Digital Skills Development for the period 2020-2024 is of special importance, and I would like to announce that a Strategy for the Development of the Information Society and Information Security of Citizens, Public Administration and the Economy is being prepared, which will play an important role in achieving a digital society.
Having in mind the importance of our today's topic for all of our societies and especially for the generations to come and their place on the labour market, I want to share with you the projections according to which more than 30 thousand information technology experts are expected to graduate in Serbia between 2017 and 2022, and the domestic needs are estimated at less than half that number. It is clear that this disproportion can lead to a modern form of labour migration, that is their getting employment abroad yet, thanks to the development of information technologies, primarily the Internet, staying in the country.
Recognising these trends, in the Strategy of Digital Skills Development for the period 2020-2024, we set adjusting digital skills development to the needs of the labour market as one of the goals. The Strategy notes that the digitalisation process has already covered all areas of society and the economy, digital skills are needed for almost all jobs and the need for these skills will grow, not only at the basic level, but also towards more advanced skills specifics to the job.
The carrier of this important job is our National Employment Service is whose task is to organise basic digital skill trainings for young people and promote career development opportunities through counselling and professional orientation, not only of unemployed people, but of those still in school as well.
On behalf of the Republic of Serbia, I would like to thank you once again for the comprehensive cooperation we have within the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative, and especially on behalf of the National Assembly, to express readiness for even more intensive cooperation in this and all other areas of common importance and interest. I hope I am speaking for everyone when I say that I want to end the fight against the pandemic as soon as possible and return to the regular work regime, which will undoubtedly contribute to our mutual relations and the fulfilment of the goals that brought us all together in the Adriatic-Ionic Initiative.