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Vladimir Marinković, Director Of The Serbian-American Friendship Congress

The U.S. Is Just As Important To Us As The EU

No one should doubt that the right address for resolving any geopolitical issue is in Washington, and that cooperation in that domain with the U.S. is crucial, ensuring the guaranteed long-term stability and prosperity of our citizens.

Bilateral relations between Serbia and the United States are at a very correct level and are recording a constant rise and dynamism in the field of investment and economic cooperation – assesses Vladimir Marinković, director of the Serbian- American Friendship Congress, speaking in this interview that we’ve devoted to topics like the 140th anniversary of the establishing of diplomatic relations between Serbia and the United States, and the future of those relations.

Our interlocutor notes that cooperation at the political level was bolstered drastically during the time of the Trump administration, following the signing of the Washington Agreement by President Trump and President Aleksandar Vučić, stating that this is obviously seen as a positive message in Serbia, given that research conducted just two weeks after the signing showed that the number of Serbian citizens who support rapprochement with the United States has increased by 250 percent. “From the new administration, we expect continuity and the realization of agreed projects, such as the operational work of the Development Finance Corporation in Serbia and, of course, an attitude towards Serbia and the region that will not imply the old autopilot policy,” concludes Marinković.

We know that Serbia organized special flights for U.S. citizens, donated protective equipment and tests, and distributed vaccines in the region, which are all parts of the mechanism for improving mutual relations during the COVID-19 pandemic. What should be added to complete this picture?

Everything that Serbia has done during the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has been respected highly in America, especially the fact that Serbia, in addition to fighting at home, also managed to help countries in the region, and even some EU member states and the U.S. This fortified America’s conviction that Serbia and President Vučić are excellent at managing crises; that we are unquestionably an economic leader and a factor of stability in the region. Unlike some EU member states, the U.S. has never brought into question the fact that Serbia secured four different types of vaccines and that this is a good thing for both Serbia and the region, regardless of the sources of the vaccines. It is now necessary to exert even more effort to make trade cooperation even better, considering that Serbia has proven itself to be a stable and relevant country for cooperation in crisis situations.

Unlike some EU member states, the U.S. has never brought into question the fact that Serbia secured four different types of vaccines and that this is a good thing for both Serbia and the region, regardless of the sources of the vaccines

Why was so long need to establish the Serbian-American Friendship Congress, and in which ways should it improve mutual relations?

The main goal of the Serbian-American Friendship Congress is to bring together all relevant stakeholders and states that have the capacity to improve cooperation between Serbia and America, and recognize the strategic importance of doing so. It is logical that Serbia, with its long tradition of good relations with the United States, should be an American ally and strategic partner in this part of Europe. The conflicts that emerged in the ‘90s can help us understand that nothing is taken for granted in geopolitics, but that alliances and friendships should be improved on a daily basis. That’s why it’s important for us to strengthen cooperation in all segments, which is why our Congress brings together politicians, people from the business community, universities, NGOs, each of whom can contribute, in their own way, individually and institutionally, to our relations reaching the highest possible level.

Last April saw the launch of the first Serbian-American Academy for Leaders, aimed towards providing practical and theoretical knowledge on the most important issues concerning the U.S. What do you expect from this project?

A year after the first cycle of our Academy, we have 130 alumni; young, highly educated people who, in the near future, should work on realizing this goal to the extent that they are able in the positions in which they find themselves in social life. It is important for our young people to have the opportunity to get to know America, the way the states function, the economy, foreign policy, in order for us to create an environment for them to get acquainted with young people from America, with whom they will jointly build the future of these two countries that share very similar values.

The Serbian-American Friendship Congress and organization East West Bridge (EWB) signed a Declaration of Cooperation earlier this year that relates to joint work to support state bodies in establishing even better relations with the U.S., further developing the European perspective, market economics, transatlantic cooperation and integration. Is there a clear vision of the main areas of work and tangible steps?

We’ve already launched specific activities with our colleagues from EWB, and on a monthly basis we organize panel debates and conferences related to cooperation in the economic, military and cultural domains, where we include people from Serbia and the U.S. who can help in the process of better positioning Serbia in the States and intensifying contacts in different areas.

Who can join this initiative and how?

All those who sincerely consider cooperation with the U.S. as being the highest interest of Serbia, and who see a future Serbia as a modern, economically and militarily strong country that’s dedicated to transatlantic integration and cooperation.

Your objective is for Serbia to reach the level of this kind of strategic cooperation in a political sense, which would return the two countries to the level of the alliance they had a century ago. What does that mean exactly?

This means precisely that, even though Serbia’s strategic foreign policy objective is full membership in the EU, a possible strategic partnership with Washington is no less important, given that it is the country with the world’s best education system, that 85% of all innovations worldwide come from this country and that the full capacity of economic and military development can’t even be imagined without strong cooperation with America. To conclude, no one should have any doubt that the right address for resolving any geopolitical issue is in Washington, and that cooperation with the U.S. in this area is crucial and ensures the guaranteed long-term stability and prosperity of our citizens.