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Strengthening Institutions, Enhancing Economic Ties

France is a key player on Serbia’s journey towards EU membership, with a focus on resolving the complex relations between Serbia and Kosovo, strengthening the rule of law and democratic institutions, and fostering economic relations and investment opportunities between the two countries

France has been a staunch supporter of Serbia’s political and economic reforms, as well as its pursuit of EU accession. The visit of the President of the French Republic to Belgrade on 15th- 16th July 2019 served to revitalise relations between the two countries, aligning with the objectives of the French Strategy for the Western Balkans that was adopted in April 2019.

France is currently focused on Serbia’s journey towards EU membership in three key areas: firstly, France, together with Germany and the U.S, is actively seeking to resolve the complex and tense relations between Serbia and Kosovo; secondly, France prioritises strengthening the rule of law and democratic institutions in Serbia; and lastly, France places a strong emphasis on deepening economic relations and encouraging increased investment from French companies in Serbia.

France’s perspective underscores the value of fraternity, solidarity, and shared values in fostering mutual cooperation and engagement between France and Serbia, contributing to Serbia’s development across various domains.

These priorities are highlighted in the interview for this special issue with H.E. Pierre Cochard, Ambassador of France to Serbia. He stresses the importance of normalising relations between Belgrade and Pristina, emphasising the need for comprehensive and inclusive municipal elections in North Kosovo in order to achieve a lasting political resolution. The ambassador also emphasises France’s commitment to supporting Serbia’s European integration aspirations and promoting regional reconciliation.

Furthermore, France places great importance on the rule of law and democratic institutions, aligning with the EU’s expectations for Serbia’s EU membership journey. It is with this in mind that Ambassador Cochard acknowledges the mass protests in Serbia, viewing them as part of a vibrant democratic landscape, provided they remain peaceful.

This special issue offers valuable insights into bilateral economic cooperation, shedding light on the strong interest of French companies in expanding collaboration, specifically in the areas of environmental protection, infrastructure development and renewable energy.

Moreover, this special issue also emphasises the efforts of local authorities aimed at addressing environmental and cultural challenges, with a focus on strengthening ties between France and Serbian municipalities. Lastly, it provides an overview of cultural cooperation and valuable insights into the celebration of Francophone culture in Serbia, coinciding with the forthcoming International Belgrade Book Fair.

France also actively promotes cultural cooperation by revitalising studies of the French language in the education system, facilitating inter-university exchanges, providing training programmes for cultural professions and fostering research collaborations between laboratories. Facilitating the mobility of Serbian students and researchers to France is a key priority for the French Embassy in Serbia.

Slađana Prica, retired ambassador, member of the Forum for International Relations and honorary president of the UNA of Serbia

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