Selaković: The "Open Balkans" model will expand around the world

07. Oct 2021.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, Nikola Selaković, said today that the "Open Balkans" initiative is becoming interesting on all meridians and expressed confidence that many countries, whose officials he also met during his visit to New York, Mexico and Guatemala, will reach for a similar or the same model in the promotion of regional organizations and initiatives.

Selaković told Tanjug that in talks with more than 70 state officials, including 40 foreign ministers from the European and non-European continents, as well as representatives of the business community, held from 16 September to 1 October, he received words of praise, not only for the "Open Balkans" initiative, but also for everything that Serbia has done in the field of economy, economic growth, fight against the pandemic...

"The visionary and leadership role of Serbia in uniting partners from the region in the "Open Balkans" initiative met serious interest in every place I spoke, which shows the recognition of the importance of regional integrations, especially economic ones aimed at creating a common market, free movement of people, goods and services and the joint fight against disasters", said Selaković.

According to the Minister, the initiative is recognized on all meridians as the need for small states in the era of large regional powers, in order to survive and try to be competitive, to be directed to mutual cooperation.

"That is a good pattern", Selaković said, adding that he was convinced of that when he attended a session in the Guatemalan Congress in honor of the 200th anniversary of the independence of the Central American republics, where the entire diplomatic corps from Guatemala City was present, and where he talked about how Serbia views regional integration and things that we can be proud of in that field as a state.

"I can say that the ideas covered by the "Open Balkans" initiative are carefully listened to in other countries and highly valued. Therefore, I am convinced that many of our friends from other parts of the world will reach for a similar or the same model in promoting regional organizations and regional initiatives", he said.

The Minister emphasized that the numerous talks he had before going to the UN General Assembly, Guatemala and Mexico, Belgium, Luxembourg, India, showed that Serbia is recognized as someone whose word is listened to carefully, as a country that keeps its word and which is an extremely good destination for the arrival of investments and capital investments.

As he says, this fact represents an important recognition for Serbia because it can never be seen that someone invests in a country that is not safe, legally stable and which lacks the predictability of procedures and everything that is of great importance for capital.

The Minister reminded that the visit to New York was an opportunity to discuss on the sidelines all issues of national importance for preserving territorial integrity and sovereignty, bearing in mind that it came at a time of "problematic, heated and tense events" on the administrative line with Kosovo and Metohija.

The talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly were a good opportunity to acquaint the interlocutors with the current situation, but also with everything that Serbia is doing to reduce any kind of tension, to be a constructive factor and to show readiness to resolve problematic issues through diplomatic means and dialogue, which, as he added, our leadership and the President of Serbia managed to do in the best possible way.

Selaković stated that among the important meetings was the one with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Sergey Lavrov, with whom he met for the third time in 10 months.

We regularly exchange thoughts and positions on current events with Lavrov, and those last consultations were of great importance, especially since the conversation took place in the UN building, where a regular six-month UNMIK report on the situation in Kosovo and Metohija will be submitted next week.

"Every meeting with Lavrov is a good opportunity to strengthen Russia's constant support and assess the current situation", Selaković said, recalling that he had an important meeting with the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, with whom he discussed the current situation, the EU perspective, European integration...

"Our plan is to maintain the trend of the meetings that has existed since the spring, when the travels of state officials around the world were reactivated after the year of the pandemic", he said.

The Minister emphasizes that when there are multilateral gatherings such as those in New York or Guatemala or Mexico, important meetings take place outside the main sessions, which is extremely important for Serbia.

"Great constant interest, which has no tendency to decline, reigned among the interlocutors who want to hear how Serbia managed to recover economically, to provide vaccination and how it did it among the first in the world", he said, emphasizing that when he informs interlocutors on these facts, he can see that their desire for any kind of cooperation towards us as interlocutors and the state rises.

Special recognition, as he says, was given to Serbia, because as a small country with limited economic opportunities, it managed to donate more than 1.1 million doses of vaccines, which much larger and richer countries did not succeed in doing.

"With that, we managed to show that solidarity is a value for us that does not dwell on nice words. That is another thing that Serbia is congratulated on all over the world", he said.

According to him, one of the most welcomed successes, which fascinated the interlocutors, is that Serbia managed to improve economic growth, to be among the first in Europe in terms of economic growth.

"The fact that we have managed to take serious fiscal consolidation measures with a serious strategic and visionary policy is something to be congratulated on, firstly for the strategic vision and secondly for the political courage to implement such reforms", ​​the minister said.

As he says, it was recognized that one of the results of that reform was the confrontation with Covid and the donation of vaccines to friendly countries around the world, which is why during those numerous meetings, there was talk of continuing the policy of donating vaccines.

"When you see that you are one of the few countries that has built three modern hospitals in four months, you realize that few have succeeded in that. When you say that we have started the production of one vaccine and that we are preparing for another, we receive congratulations, praise and the interest in help, in the procurement of vaccines, not only through donations but also through purchase", said the head of Serbian diplomacy.

"In a large number of cases, when the interlocutors hear all these facts, they automatically want to improve cooperation", he stated.

The Minister reminded that before his trip to New York, Guatemala and Mexico, he visited Belgium, Luxembourg and India, where he also had meetings with representatives of companies interested in direct investments, capacity expansion.

It is nice to see and hear that they are seriously interested in Serbia when they hear about us as a favorable destination from their colleagues. That is the highest recognition for our leadership, he said.

"We expect a good epilogue of those meetings", the minister said, adding that the MFA is one of the entry points for investments.

Selaković assessed that the foreign policy of President Vučić gave serious results and showed how much can be done when you have a serious head of state and serious leadership.

"Behind that reputation are hundreds of sleepless nights, a lot of work, energy, and that is why today we have something to be proud of, we are a state that conducts its foreign and domestic policy independently and sovereignly", he said.

He emphasized that he talked with his interlocutors about the fact that Serbia is committed to EU membership, that it conducts reforms for that purpose, but that it also pursues a multi-vector foreign policy that does not step over traditional friendships and partnerships.

All doors are open for Serbia, except "those that we were either not ready to knock on or towards which we did not go to", said the minister and assessed that it was difficult to make a breakthrough in foreign policy in recent years, because we were burdened with a damaged reputation due to long-running propaganda against our state and our people.

"That is changing dramatically today, this manner of conducting state policy, which was managed by the state leadership headed by the president, is a course that should be maintained and which gives results", said the minister, adding that it is a great honor when a small country from Southeast Europe is gladly seen as an interlocutor wherever it appears.

Source: Tanjug