Finland and Serbia: Strengthening Diplomatic Bonds while Pioneering Green Technologies
In the intricate world of diplomacy and innovation, the alliance between Finland and Serbia stands as a testament to the power of collaboration. Beyond the well-established bilateral relations, these nations are poised to deepen their connection, particularly in cutting-edge green technologies, renewable energy, and emerging innovations.
In our exclusive interview with H.E. Mr. Niklas Lindqvist, the esteemed Ambassador of Finland to Serbia, we delve into Finland’s pivotal role in assisting Serbia’s journey towards European integration. Ambassador Lindqvist shares valuable insights into practical strategies to enhance Serbia’s EU readiness, a journey that includes harnessing EU funding mechanisms like Twinning and TAIEX.
But this partnership isn’t confined to the realms of diplomacy alone. Education and innovation are the keystones of Finnish society’s remarkable achievements, and Serbia now finds itself at the threshold of a transformative collaboration. Moreover, Finland is ready to impart knowledge and experiences across vital domains such as the rule of law, gender equality, digitalisation, circular economy practices, and eco-friendly solutions.
Join us in this conversation as we navigate the landscape of diplomacy, innovation, and sustainability, exploring the promising future that lies ahead for Finland and Serbia.
As an expert in matters related to Russia and the surrounding region, how do you view the current positions of Serbia and the Western Balkans as they strive for EU accession?
— Finland supports EU enlargement and is committed to advancing merit-based enlargement in the Western Balkans. The Western Balkan countries have varying levels of preparedness regarding EU accession, but many of the challenges are similar.
Serbia has made important steps on its European path, particularly in the economic sector. We are ready to help with further improving the rule of law, media freedom and tackling corruption. Rule of law is one of the fundamental pillars of the European success story. Democratic, well-functioning institutions, equality, respect for human rights, and an independent judiciary are cornerstones of the society that allow citizens to enjoy peace, prosperity, and equal rights.
Moreover, good neighbourly relations based on respect, trust, and equal opportunities need to be a priority. Bilateral disputes have to be resolved, and relations normalised in order to make EU membership a reality. There is now political momentum within the EU for enlargement, which is a result of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Western Balkan countries should make use of this momentum.
What role do you believe Finland and the Nordic countries play in supporting the EU accession process?
— Nordic cooperation is a prime example of prosperous regional cooperation. Sharing our experiences can be useful, and different elements can be replicated. Especially challenges related to the protection of minority rights and enhanced democratic values are something about which we can share our experiences.
Finland is promoting digital solutions and a circular economy model. It is essential to create economic growth in an environmentally friendly fashion, with environmental reforms, cleaner air, advanced water and waste management. We have joined forces with other Nordic colleagues, as well as the Nordic Business Alliance, in promoting these fields and sharing best practices. We will continue to do so in the future.
Our next plan is to showcase Nordic experiences in the field of smart cities and intensify cooperation with local stakeholders in this sector. The concept is about addressing urban challenges, building a more sustainable society, and providing a higher standard of living for people without burdening the environment. We can share numerous positive Nordic examples in this field.
Could you elaborate on the promising trade opportunities that Finnish companies can explore in Serbia and the South East Europe region?
— There has been a positive trend in trade between Finland and Serbia in recent years. There is potential for even more growth both with Serbia and with the whole region. We are trying to raise awareness among Finnish companies about opportunities in Serbia and South East Europe. At the same time, we are bringing Finland closer to the minds and hearts of local people. Creating contacts among people and businesses is of crucial importance.
Serbia is slowly turning towards more value- added and sustainable investments. These require advanced technologies and environmentally friendly solutions. The manufacturing industry has started to green their businesses and make their industrial processes more efficient and sustainable. This is necessary to stay competitive in European and global markets. Finnish partners can support Serbian businesses and the Serbian economy as a whole in this green transition.
In Serbia, Finland is recognised as a frontrunner in smart solutions in transport and mobility, clean energy, improvement of air quality, waste management, circular economy, green industrial processes, high-tech mining equipment, as well as other smart and environmentally friendly solutions. These are all areas in which we are eager to cooperate.
With the International Belgrade Book Fair behind us, which Finnish author would you recommend our readers delve into?
— Books are a very important asset. They act as a bridge between generations, facilitating the transfer of cultural values and traditions. I am looking forward to the famous International Belgrade Book Fair, which is usually organised at the same time as the Helsinki Book Fair. Maybe we should think of some kind of cooperation here? Finnish people love to read. Literature is close to our hearts today, perhaps more than ever. Personally, I have several favourite Finnish authors. One of the most famous is Tove Jansson, the author and illustrator of the Moomin characters and books. The novels, short stories and comic strips contain deep illustrations of human character, and readers of all ages will enjoy them. Another is Kjell Westö, whose epic novels about people and lives in Helsinki during different times have earned him numerous awards.
Serbia and Finland have extensive economic cooperation with room for improvement, particularly in the advancement of green technologies, renewable energy, and emerging tech
Supporting Serbia on its European integration path is very important to us, and we are ready to find tangible ways to strengthen Serbia’s readiness to become a member of the European Union
Trade between Finland and Serbia is growing positively, with potential for more expansion in the region through awareness efforts and fostering connections among people and businesses