Sitemap

More...

Serbian Women’s Volleyball Team Awarded Diplomatic Passports

Members of the Serbian women's volleyball team...

Mariko Kaneko, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

Strengthening Mutual Ties Between Japan and Serbia

The already excellent bilateral relations between Japan...

US Ambassador Hill Visits Serbia’s First Dual Renewable Energy Heating Plant

US Ambassador to Serbia, Christopher Hill, recently...

United States Adds $18 Million In New Funds To Development Partnership With Serbia

Today, the United States Government, through the...

EU and Serbia Sign Memorandum on Strategic Partnership for Sustainable Raw Materials

In a significant step towards enhancing cooperation in sustainable raw materials, battery production, and electric vehicles, the European Union...

Biden Ends Re-Election Bid, Backs Harris as Democratic Nominee

President Joe Biden has ended his re-election campaign, endorsing Vice President Kamala Harris to succeed him, after many Democrats...

Andrej Plenković Re-Elected as HDZ Leader with Overwhelming Majority

Andrej Plenković has secured another term as the leader of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), winning 84,786 votes in...

Serbia and Egypt Sign Landmark Free Trade Agreement

In a significant move to bolster economic ties, Serbia and Egypt have signed a Free Trade Agreement along with...

United States Adds $18 Million In New Funds To Development Partnership With Serbia

Today, the United States Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), announced an additional $18 million...

Marko Đurić, Serbian Minister of Foreign Affairs

Bilateral Rising

The U.S. has continuity of policy on many issues, regardless of the person heading the administration there, and Serbia will endeavor to also maintain its continuity in cooperation with America, regardless of whether a Democratic or Republican president occupies the White House. However, we live in a time of dynamic international happenings, in which it is certain that Washington will also lead a more flexible policy in order to find the right answers to the challenges of the moment, and it is there that Serbia should seek its chance ~ Marko Đurić

Marko Đurić, Serbia’s new head of diplomacy, is convinced that further progress will be achieved in bilateral relations between Serbia and the U.S. On the topic of political divergences with Washington, such as the recent case of the vote in the UN on the Srebrenica genocide resolution, Đurić, who until recently served as Serbian ambassador in Washington, says that Serbia has taken note of the way countries have defined their stance on this issue, but that “it is neither the end of history nor the end our cooperation with those countries”.

You took on the post of foreign minister at a time when there’s lots of talk about Serbia having to choose a side in the geopolitical sense. What will form the essence of Serbia’s foreign policy during your mandate?

— Our side is the Serbian side. Your question is based on the deep-rooted belief that small states and nations have no choice but to be mere pawns in the games of the great powers. With our successes in the process of building Serbia into a modern democracy and an economy with a perspective, the greatest credit for which belongs to President Aleksandar Vučić, we have shown that we’re not so small after all, and that we can build a policy to protect our own state and national interests without endangering anyone, and that we can be an exporter of stability. Serbia will always choose the side of Serbia, and we will continue to lead a multi-vector foreign policy based on libertarian principles, on autonomy and independent decision-making that’s in our own interest. We will nurture our traditional friendships and create new ones, but we will also improve existing partnerships, as well as partnerships with those with whom we haven’t always had complete harmonious relations.

In this approach, full membership in the EU remains the central commitment of our foreign policy strategy, while having the best possible relations with the U.S. will also be one of our priorities.

You arrived in the position of foreign minister directly from Washington, D.C., where you served as Serbia’s ambassador. What would you say about the current level of bilateral relations between Serbia and the U.S.?

— Serbia and the U.S. have been writing a new chapter in their shared history over the past decade, and I’m happy to have been part of the team that contributed to that in various ways. Our relations – political, economic, cultural, educational – are now at a much higher level than they were ten years ago, but I’m hopeful that they’re also at a much lower level than the one we’ll reach at the end of the coming decade. I can say that numerous obstacles to normal diplomatic and political communication were removed over the previous period, which is a consequence of our mutual willingness to abandon some old practices and enter into the process of improving cooperation with more goodwill. Serbia is today a country that has doubled its GDP in the last decade and a country that attracts over 65% of all investment across the entire region. America is today Serbia’s top export market for services in the ICT sector, and ranks fourth among our global foreign trade partners. We are much better able to hear and understand each other today than was the case in the past, both on issues that we manage to find agreement on and on issues around which we don’t agree.

Are influences on changing Serbia’s position regarding Ukraine, or more specifically the introduction of sanctions against Russia, and future distance from China among the core issues of bilateral relations with Washington?

— Over recent years, Serbia has managed – with its credibility and readiness to participate in the world’s political and diplomatic processes in a constructive way – to carve out a kind of special position for itself, because our interests are specific and start from our desire to develop as a free and independent state. We listen to the pulse of international relations very carefully, and are very well aware of what we’re doing. Regardless of the global circumstances, we will always take a principled approach to pursuing the best interests of our country and our people. This is a postulate from which we do not deviate. We certainly won’t be rigid and inflexible, as we were in some difficult moments of our past, and we certainly won’t be a country that creates problems for the environment, but rather one that creates opportunities for development.

In which areas do you think bilateral cooperation between Serbia and the U.S. has achieved the most progress?

— I would say that cooperation with the U.S. is advancing across all fields. It is crucially important to this cooperation that Serbia has positioned itself as a credible partner, with whom it is possible to cooperate in a stable and predictable way.

The threats to the Dayton architecture of Bosnia and Herzegovina don’t come from the U.S., but rather primarily from some European centers of power that are working openly on the untarization of the country

This has resulted in the American side having more willingness to listen to our views, which is a prerequisite for us to identify common or close future positions on some issues that we didn’t agree on in the past. We can learn a lot from the U.S. about how to build a successful society – this refers to a dominant military force and impressive world economy, and Serbia can only benefit from having higher quality relations with America. Our armed forces have been participating for 18 years in the State Partnership Program with the Ohio National Guard, within the scope of which we don’t only have cooperation between our soldiers, but also between civilians: economists, educators and priests. Moreover, last year’s establishing of the American-Serbian Business Council crowned previous efforts towards the forging of even closer economic ties between our countries. That’s why I’m particularly hopeful of the intensification of economic cooperation with the U.S., which is expanding year on year, especially in terms of the exchange of services and when it comes to investments. In short, the development of Serbian-American cooperation has unlimited potential.

How have relations between Serbia and the U.S. been impacted by Washington’s strong support for the recent Resolution on the Srebrenica genocide, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly at the proposal of Germany?

— As can be deduced from your question, the U.S. did support this resolution, but it did not take the lead in advocating for it.

Serbia, as a country that jealously protects its military neutrality and independence in making political decisions, is understandably targeted by those who want a clear positioning and the taking of sides on something that threatens to become more than a conflict between two states in Eastern Europe.

We expect Serbia to be pressured to abandon itsposition, and there is also certain to be more such pressure in the future. This doesn’t mean that we will destroy the bridges of partnership and cooperation built with those who want to entice Serbia to their side in an increasingly perilous geopolitical conflict. However, diplomacy is a process that’s based on a tactical approach and long-term thinking, not on affect and passion. The noted resolution was supported by many countries from our region and many EU member states, including those that are the sources of the largest investments in Serbia. It is to be understood that we made a note of how certain countries determined their stance on the issue of the resolution on Srebrenica, but that is neither the end of history nor the end of our cooperation with those countries.

Considering the reactions of American ambassadors around the region, the U.S. doesn’t look favorably on the national gathering established in June as the All-Serb Assembly, which is seen as a response to the aforementioned Resolution. How did you respond to your American colleagues who evaluated the messages of that gathering as an attack on the Dayton Agreement?

— If you’d listened carefully to U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill, you would have heard a stance that coincides with Serbia’s political positions, and that is the position that the U.S. and Serbia are jointly committed to respecting the Dayton Agreement. The All-Serb Assembly was a large and important event for us, because it demonstrated the unity of the Serbian people, and we live in times in which all collectives, including ours, are striving to achieve the greatest possible cohesion in order to be able to handle various modern challenges. This has nothing to do with Serbia’s attitude towards the Dayton architecture of Bosnia and Herzegovina, because we support our neighbors’ territorial integrity sincerely and consistently, but also other aspects of the Dayton Agreement that guarantee the existence and jurisdiction of Republika Srpska. It is a view formed logically by Serbia that is favorable to this territory, due to the heritage of our regional identity.

It is tough for me to imagine our citizens supporting the idea of EU membership if is conditioned by our recognition of the unilaterally declared independence of our southern province

This stance is primarily required by Serbia if it is to realize its development plans. And, quite frankly, the threats to the Dayton architecture of Bosnia and Herzegovina don’t come from the U.S., but rather primarily from some European centers of power that are working openly on the unitarization of the country, and thus working against the letter and spirit of the Dayton Agreement. But let’s return to the All-Serb Assembly and its messages. If you objectively and dispassionately read the contents of the declaration adopted, you won’t find a single element that anyone could perceive as a threat to the stability of the region or the integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the fact that messages of Serbian unity are received unfavorably by those who want a weak Serbia and a fragmented Serbian people is also to be expected and logical.

We recently heard two statements of American diplomats related to Kosovo. The U.S. ambassador in Belgrade, Christopher Hill, stated his belief that “recognition of Kosovo’s independence will not be a condition for Serbia’s EU accession,” but rather the normalization of relations. At the same time, the U.S. ambassador in Pristina, Jeff Hovenier, stated that the U.S. expects the normalization process to end with “mutual recognition.” Which of these statements do you think represents a more faithful reflection of the U.S. stance?

— The messages of the U.S. ambassador in Belgrade are certainly more reflective of the stance of American diplomacy. We share with Ambassador Hill a desire for relations between Serbia and the U.S. to improve in the coming period and for them to return to the level of quality that we had prior to the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia. Serbia will not antagonize the U.S., despite us obviously having conflicting views on the Kosovo issue, because there is very wide space to build trust and cooperation between our two countries, and this could perhaps lead to the future convergence of positions on this issue. But the most relevant factor when it comes to Kosovo is what Serbian citizens think about our southern province, because at the end of the process they will have the final say in deciding on our country’s EU accession. It is tough for me to imagine our citizens supporting the idea of EU membership if is conditioned by our recognition of the unilaterally declared independence of our southern province.

The U.S. presidential election will be held this November. Do you think there is a difference between Democratic and Republican administrations when it comes to priority national issues for Serbia?

— It wouldn’t be appropriate for me, as the foreign minister of a small country, to express any desires or forecasts regarding the upcoming U.S. elections, because someone malicious could interpret that as interference in the internal affairs of another country. We’ve previously had both good and bad junctions with both Democratic and Republican administrations in Washington, and we worked with dedication, during the period I spent as Serbian ambassador to the U.S., to establish connections and productive relations with influential people in both parties.

The U.S. has continuity of policy on many issues, regardless of the person heading the administration there, and Serbia will endeavor to also maintain continuity in cooperation with America, regardless of whether a Democrat or Republican president occupies the White House. However, we live in a dynamic international happening, so it is crucial that Washington will always find a more flexible policy in order to find the right answers to the challenges of the moment, and it is there that Serbia should seek its chance.

COMMITMENT

Full EU membership remains the central commitment of our strategy, while having the best possible relations with the U.S. will also be one of our priorities

EXPORT

America is today Serbia’s top export market for services in the ICT sector, and ranks fourth among our global foreign trade partners

COOPERATION

Establishing the American-Serbian Business Council crowned previous efforts towards the forging of even closer economic ties between our countries