Dacic: Relations between Serbia and Türkiye are at a historic high

26. Jan 2023.
First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic said today in Ankara, after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, that the bilateral relations between the two countries were at a historic high, and that Serbia and Türkiye had a trade exchange of almost 2.5 billion dollars, while the goal was for it to reach five billion.

"We are talking about a very open and friendly relationship, a relationship of trust, which is based on the trust between the two presidents, Vucic and Erdoğan, and the two of us as foreign ministers. We started by working on the signing of an agreement on the abolition of visas and an agreement on free trade, more than 10 years ago. Then we also had a vision of what we should do without waiting for the EU", Dacic said at a joint press conference.

Minister Dacic pointed out that the two countries had good relations in the political sphere, but in the economic sphere as well, regardless of the fact that we were not satisfied yet, although we had a historical exchange of almost 2.5 billion dollars, and reminded that the presidents had set a medium-term goal to reach the exchange worth five billion. It is certain that our economic cooperation is on the rise and that we have an entire series of investments with a large number of people employed, Dacic added.  

He said that this pertained to infrastructure projects that were helping the development of Serbia and its regions, and that in this context, the highway to Sarajevo was important.

"There is also the presence of financial capital, a bank and a development agency, and we are working on the development of our cultural and educational relations, as well as in the field of sports, science and more. That is why it is very important to maintain constant contacts and to regularly analyze what has been done", he added.

He reminded that, after the earlier agreement on the abolition of visas, the Serbian parliament should also ratify the amendment that would allow travel with identity cards only.

"Identity cards have now been modernized and any abuse is prevented. It remains for our parliament to ratify the amendment to the signed agreement, and I expect that it will happen very quickly and that this will be in place already for this tourist season. Serbian tourists travel to Türkiye more during the summer, and Turkish tourists come to Serbia throughout the year", Dacic said.

He stated that Serbia was under pressure from the EU to abolish the visa-free regime with Türkiye.

"There has been а pressure on us from the EU to re-introduce visas for Turkish citizens, and we have refused to do so, because we believe that it is not in our interest, nor in the interest of Türkiye, but also of the entire region and Europe, and that we must all make an effort together to prevent the abuse of the visa-free regime in the case of irregular migration. And this has nothing to do with our citizens and the possibility to travel to Türkiye only with identity cards. Yet we are being asked to introduce the visas again, which would be a big step backwards", Dacic emphasized.

He said that Serbia would continue to develop such relations with Türkiye and that the two countries were linked by a large number of people living in Türkiye originating from the former Yugoslavia.

When they ask who these people are and what they are, we say - they are all our people, Dacic underlined and added that hundreds of thousands of people from the former Yugoslavia lived in Türkiye. Serbia and Türkiye want to be constructive in international relations and not to be on anyone's side, Dacic said.

"We advocate respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty. We did not join the sanctions against Russia because of our state and national interests, but also because of our economic cooperation with Russia, as well as due to the issue of Kosovo and Metohija, because Russia supports us on this matter. It would be unfair on our part and harmful to impose the sanctions, but that does not mean that we will not say clearly that we do not support the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine", Dacic said.

Minister Dacic said at the press conference that he also discussed the current situation in the Balkans with Çavuşoğlu. He stated that Serbia would like Türkiye to be an important factor of stability in our region and that our request was for Türkiye to use its influence on Pristina regarding the implementation of the Brussels Agreement in Kosovo and Metohija.

"We would like Türkiye to be an important factor of regional stability in our region, and this means that our request is for Türkiye to use its influence when it comes to Pristina, so that Pristina would apply a constructive approach when it comes to the implementation of the Brussels Agreement and other previously signed agreements, in order for us to be able to discuss some permanent political solutions at all", Dacic said.

He stated that in any case, we must prevent the situation where we are all individually factors and participants in something that is a problem, rather than being part of the solution to the problem.

The Minister stated that regardless of the fact that we might think differently on some issues, we should act together and develop an atmosphere of mutual trust.

"That is why I am happy to confirm that President Vucic and I will participate in all the forums organized here. We also expect visits to our region by ministers and the President of Türkiye. We will have a successful continuation of cooperation in the coming period as well. Our relations are at a very high level and I would like to thank all who have contributed to this, and to the greatest extent Presidents Erdoğan and Vucic", Dacic said.

He emphasized that he responded positively to Çavuşoğlu's request aimed at resolving the problem of the chairmanship of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation initiative.

"Given that Türkiye is tied to that initiative, which also includes Russia and Ukraine, and that chairing it is now very difficult, we have, regardless of the fact that it is not our turn, in agreement with Russia, accepted Türkiye’s initiative that in these six months we chair the initiative and thus contribute to peace and stability in this region", Dacic emphasized.

Source: Tanjug