Mexico’s position regarding full respect for the sovereign territorial integrity of Serbia is based on our foreign policy principles, our strong and lasting friendship with the people of Serbia, international law and in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1244. We will not change that stance ~ Carlos Félix Corona
Since the Embassy of Mexico in Belgrade first opened, it has worked in continuity for 75 years, notes Mexican Ambassador Carlos Félix Corona in this interview for CorD Magazine. Reminding us that his country stood behind Serbia during the turbulent times of Yugoslavia’s disintegration, the ambassador says that today Mexico, as a country that has not recognised the independence of Kosovo and that has been selected as a non-permanent member of the UNSC for the 2021-2022 biennium, has expressed to the Serbian government the full disposition to eventually help in the process of conducting the dialogue on the normalisation of relations with Priština.
Your Excellency, given the recent commemorating of the 75th anniversary of the establishing of diplomatic relations between Mexico and Serbia, what would you say about current relations between the two countries?
On 24th May, Mexico and Serbia celebrated 75 years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations. Mexico has been close to the Serbian people during the historic events in the Balkan region, which evolved towards the consolidation of Serbia as the successor nation of the former Yugoslavia. Since Mexico opened its embassy in Belgrade it has never closed its doors, and at no time has it suspended official and social links with the people of Serbia. During the Yugoslavia era, we sustained a high political dialogue with six reciprocal state visits, and all kinds of ministerial encounters. At the same time, the cultural and academic exchanges multiplied, weaving a solid connection between the Mexican and Serbian people that constitutes a strong pillar of our current links.
This positive assessment is the foundation to advance towards a deeper relationship. In the framework of celebrations commemorating the 75th anniversary, the ministers of foreign affairs of Mexico and Serbia, Marcelo Ebrard and Nikola Selaković, held a videoconference on 31st May. Both Ministers recognised the solid friendship that exists between the two nations and reaffirmed the willingness to compromise in order to expand bilateral cooperation in other areas, with special interest in trade and investment, while at the same time deepening our social links by considering the relevance to cultivate our human capital as the engine to promote this mutual friendship and cooperation. On 7th June, we held a face-to-face session of the Political Consultation Mechanism in Belgrade, where we defined the route map to focus our work (in the pandemic recovery scenario) to confront the challenges and seize the opportunities to consolidate our links during the following years.
We have invited a high political delegation, along with artistic and military representatives, to celebrations in Mexico commemorating the 200th anniversary of our Independence this September
You stated in another recent interview that Mexico stood with Serbia in “historical and political processes” in the Balkans. You emphasised Mexico’s support for Serbia’s territorial integrity and adherence to UNSC Resolution 1244, which also relates to Kosovo. Will your country continue to stay the course when it comes to the policy of not recognising the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo?
Mexico’s position regarding full respect for the sovereign territorial integrity of Serbia is based on our foreign policy principles, our strong and lasting friendship with the people of Serbia, international law and in accordance with UNSC Resolution 1244. We will not change that stance. We don’t have any contacts with the self-proclaimed Kosovo authorities. We have closely monitored the process of identifying a pacifying and negotiated solution to the Kosovo conflict through the mediation of the European Union and have even expressed to the Serbian government the full disposition of Mexico to eventually help in this process. We understand and recognise the necessity of reaching a negotiated solution that satisfies Serbian interests, to ensure the stability and wellbeing of the whole Balkan region.
On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries, Serbia invited Mexico’s minister of foreign affairs to visit Belgrade. Are you planning to realise this visit; or visits of any other Mexican officials?
As I mentioned, the minsters of foreign affairs of Mexico and Serbia, Messrs Marcelo Ebrard and Nikola Selaković, held a videoconference on 31st May. We also had the 5th session of the Mechanism for Political Consultation, face-to-face, in Belgrade on 7th June, headed by Assistant Secretary for Europe at the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Bernardo Agullar, Serbian Assistant Minister for Bilateral Cooperation, Ambassador Vladimir Marić, and myself. During the discussion, we agreed to promote the continuation of the high-level political dialogue, considering in-person meetings of our foreign ministers and the possibility of a meeting between our respective presidents, Andres Manuel López Obrador and Aleksandar Vučić.
We have invited a high political delegation, along with artistic and military representatives, to celebrations in Mexico commemorating the 200th anniversary of our Independence this September. We hope pandemic restrictions will ease and permit the realisation of these high-level meetings to continue our high political dialogue.
Mexico has been elected to serve as a member of the UN Security Council for the 2021-2022 biennium, which you consider as an opportunity to contribute to reducing tensions in the Balkans. How do you view this region?
The election of Mexico as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) for 2021- 2022 is international recognition for my country’s active and responsible foreign policy, which has been unfolding for many years, as well as its ability to contribute to international peace and security. Mexico firmly believes that multilateralism based in International Law is an essential factor in preventing, addressing, alleviating and resolving the various conflicts around the world. With that conviction, Mexico conducts its works in the UNSC agenda, including the situation in the Balkans. We will make every contribution needed to identify a negotiated and peaceful solution for the political stability of this region, with full respect for human rights that will boost sustainable economic and social development to all nations in the Western Balkans.
And what kind of vision do you have for the United Nations and the Security Council. Many would claim that this organisation is outdated and increasingly circumvented when it comes to addressing key geopolitical challenges?
Mexico is convinced and committed to work for multilateral solutions to all issues on the global agenda, in which the United Nations system plays a vital role. Let us not forget that the UN was created, by the will of all its members, to seek a mechanism to prevent and resolve international conflicts that threaten international peace and security. In that sense, all UN member states have the responsibility to work not only to maintain the functioning of that key multilateral forum, but to work towards its improvement and better outcomes. The success or failure of the UN is the responsibility of its members and their real commitment to work for multilateral solutions. The case of the COVID-19 Pandemic is a clear example of the need to look for global solutions instead of unilateral, partial or even regional isolated actions to confront the consequences of a global emergency successfully. The effects of the pandemic have emphasised the crucial necessity for a multilateral response and the urgent need to reinforce multilateral action to address the “pre pandemic” agenda 2030. In this complex international scenario, Mexico believes that all members of the United Security Council -whether permanent or non-permanent – should work together with genuine commitment to maintain and preserve international peace and security. Being part of the UNSC is not a privilege, but rather a serious responsibility that must be grasped fully.
As a member of UNESCO, and according to its principles and goals, we consider it an imperative to preserve the historic sites and cultural heritage of our peoples, and this responsibility should not be conditioned, partially addressed or subject to any political consideration
Mexico voted against Kosovo being granted membership in UNESCO. The issue of the cultural, historical and religious heritage in Kosovo is once again topical. How do you view calls from Pristina to remove the Visoki Dečani Monastery complex from the list of cultural monuments requiring protection?
As a member of UNESCO, and according to its principles and goals, we consider it an imperative to preserve the historic sites and cultural heritage of our peoples, and this responsibility should not be conditioned, partially addressed or subject to any political consideration.
Is it possible to improve economic relations between Mexico and Serbia, which are lagging far behind the excellent quality of political relations, and, if so, how?
Mexico has the world’s 15th largest economy. We have one of the most open and export-orientated economies in the world, with a network of free trade agreements that gives us privileged access to 1.6 billion consumers around the world. Our main free trade tools give us ample opportunity to be part of global value chains in all geographical regions: USMCA (previously NAFTA) makes us part of the most dynamic market on the planet in the North American region; the Economic Association Agreement with the EU; the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Transpacific Partnership (CPTPP), with the inclusion of important economies in Asia and Oceania, and the Pacific Alliance, comprising the most export-orientated economies of Latin America.
We are convinced that all this economic potential that Mexico has represents a real opportunity for the Serbian economy to engage actively in global value chains and diversify its markets. With this in mind, Mexico and Serbia need to work together to define a specific trade and investment strategy, targeting sectors of mutual interest, with real potential such as those of the automotive, electric and electronic, agriculture, mining, energy, telecommunications and tourism sectors. The Embassy of Mexico will prioritise this task and I will soon meet with Serbian stakeholders to work with them on furthering this endeavour.
Mexico and Serbia need to work together to define a specific trade and investment strategy, targeting sectors of mutual interest with real potential, such as those of the automotive, electric and electronic, agriculture, mining, energy, telecommunications and tourism sectors
How satisfied are you with our bilateral cooperation in the academic and scientific domains, and in the field of culture?
We are glad that, during past years, both countries have developed strong cultural and academic links that are at the core of our bilateral relations. Mexico granted numerous scholarships to Yugoslav citizens, the majority of them Serbs, to pursue their studies in Mexican higher educational institutions. Many of them maintained connections with their Mexican colleagues once they completed their studies in our country. The creation and multiplication of these networks have consolidated strong human capital in both countries, resulting in mutual understanding and deep knowledge of our culture and societies.
Mexico has contributed significantly to promoting the Spanish language in the Balkans. There is strong interest in Mexican culture in Serbia. During past years, more than 20 literary works of renowned Mexican writers, such as Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes, among many others, have been translated into Serbian. I have met with many academics and researchers of institutions in Serbia that wish to deepen collaboration with their counterparts in Mexico. We will expand the network of Mexican and Serbian creators to be self-sufficient and continue progressing in the coming years. We are planning to resume exchanges of students and researchers once pandemic conditions allow. I am convinced of the mutual benefit of deepening our cultural academic and scientific links as a way to cultivate our human capital, as the most import asset of our two countries.
How is Mexico combating the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit your country just as it has hit the rest of the world? Are you satisfied with the way the vaccination process is progressing?
At the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Mexico – like all countries – had to confront numerous challenges. No country was prepared to deal with the pandemic and we had to make fast decisions to address the population that had been impacted and to procure essential medical equipment; planning special medical attention centres, as well as the necessary human healthcare resources. In a country of 126 million people with two million square-kilometres of territory, this has been a huge task.
In the second stage, the Government of Mexico accelerated vaccination procurement with different providers and brands, consolidating a diverse portfolio of vaccines. We are still in the process of procuring the necessary number of vaccines. We have so far reached a total of more than 50 million doses, which allows us to advance the vaccination process covering the segments of our population aged over 60, then those aged over 50, before continuing with the rest of our population. The target is to cover all our people this summer. Just a few days ago, we started donating vaccines to different countries in Latin America, in order to help them confront the COVID-19 Pandemic. We have urged the international community to take all measures to guarantee that all countries have access to the vaccines they need. We must remember that no one will be safe until everyone is safe.
On 24th May, Mexico and Serbia celebrated 75 years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations
Mexico firmly believes that multilateralism based in International Law is an essential factor in preventing, addressing, alleviating and resolving the various conflicts around the world
The success or failure of the UN is the responsibility of its members and their real commitment to work towards multilateral solutions