Non-aligned – one of the largest multilateral gatherings

08. Oct 2021.
At the beginning of next week, Serbia and Belgrade will host representatives of the member states of the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikola Selaković, said before the meeting for Tanjug that it would be one of the largest multilateral gatherings in Europe this year, but also an opportunity for Serbia to develop economic cooperation with those countries.

The arrival at the conference in Belgrade was confirmed by more than 100 delegations, and for now it is known that about 45 delegations will be headed by ministers.

"For example, the Council of Europe has fewer member states than there will be ministers in our country, which means that it will be one of the largest multilateral gatherings in Europe this year", Selaković pointed out.

The Minister adds that the gathering does not have a primarily political dimension, because no decisions will be made, nor will declarations be adopted, but it is a way for everyone to show that they remember the 1961 Belgrade Conference with great care and pride.

At that time, he reminds, the SFRY hosted the heads of states and governments of the Asian, African continent and Latin America in Belgrade, who uniquely sent a message to the world about which values they stand for, not agreeing to be the factors and part of the bloc division of the world at the time.

He also reminds that it was a very interesting historical moment, after the Cuban crisis, numerous military interventions in Asia, Africa, but, he says, the leaders of the founding states of the Movement found enough strength to send a message to both blocs and point out that there is also a third path.

Selaković added that in the three decades after its establishment, our state has benefited greatly from that, it has affected its reputation, because such a movement was founded on its territory, and that is why, he says, the SFRY itself was one of the most important factors in the international political scene.

The head of Serbian diplomacy states that the world is different today, no matter how hard someone tries to draw parallels – the SFRY does not exist, but what remains the same is Belgrade, the birthplace of the Movement, which itself has been rapidly changing in recent years and becoming the locomotive of development of Serbia, but also beyond.

"When you mention Belgrade, along with the former president of SFRY Tito, you find enthusiasm and a smile among all non-aligned friends. And that is one of the reasons why a large number of foreign ministers, special envoys and state representatives are coming to Belgrade for the gathering", Selaković said.

The head of Serbian diplomacy also pointed out that the gathering is an excellent opportunity to develop economic cooperation with the countries that will be represented.

"We no longer have such powerful companies which we could send to construction sites from Iraq to Angola, but we have intelligence, experts in various fields, and many member states ask for that kind of cooperation and help from us, because they appreciate us", Selaković said.

There, he says, lies the great potential for the development of the economy, trade, in the field of education, science, culture... adding that he would personally like for us to gather enough strength to develop relations with those countries as much as possible.

"This is the priority of every serious European country today, and we have a good and serious legacy of cooperation with African, Asian, Latin American countries, the Indo-Pacific subcontinent… And we should be proud of that, rational and we should turn good bilateral political cooperation into an economic one", said Selaković.

Asked whether Serbia could return to the position held by the SFRY and whether this gathering could contribute to that, Selaković said that we should not get carried away, because the former Yugoslavia existed in another historical moment, with 23 million inhabitants at the time of its disintegration, with exceptional economic power and a strong political reputation.

"It had a leadership that recognized a certain historical moment, and that was the one in 1961. Today, Serbia is something else, but it is on a good path, it is developing rapidly, for the second year in a row it is one of the fastest growing economies in Europe, someone with whom the non-aligned want cooperation. It is up to us to respond to that with our desire for such cooperation", said Selaković.

Selaković pointed out that, for example, the African continent today has 1.3 billion people, and that this number will be doubled in about 30 years, expressing confidence that the historical relations of African countries with Yugoslavia and Serbia will not be neglected, but that how much they will be valued depends on what we do today.

"We are very interested in cooperating with friendly countries, among which are those who helped us whenever they could, did not blackmail us, with whom we did not have open issues", Selaković added.

The head of Serbian diplomacy also pointed out that this gathering shows that we are not Eurocentric, as we were not 60 years ago.

This, he says, is proven by the photos that can be seen at the exhibition at the Museum of African Art, which show how Belgrade lived in 1961 – they show Belgrade women dancing with girls from Africa, who studied here at the time, as well as girls from Africa who dance with Belgrade students – members of different races, and not a "trace" of racism, while in the more developed parts of the world, racial segregation was seen at every turn.

"It shows how cosmopolitan Belgrade was even then, and it is still a cosmopolitan place today, and that is why we have so much interest and respect from our friends who will come here", said Selaković.

Source: Tanjug