Meeting with Serbia President Tomislav Nikolić

  • 8
  • 4:18
Belarus and Serbia are ready to develop relations at all levels and are eager to start big joint projects in the near future, Presidents of the two countries Aleksandr Lukashenko and Tomislav Nikolić reaffirmed this position as they met in Minsk on 12 March.

During the talks in the narrow format the Belarusian head of state noted that Belarus and Serbia have political will to expand the bilateral relations.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that at the given moment Belarus and Serbia are not starting, but continuing their cooperation. “Indeed, there was, unfortunately, a setback in our relations. Despite this fact we made certain progress in promoting cooperation in trade and economy. We have political will for that. Therefore, we do not start, but continue doing the things we have launched earlier,” the Belarusian head of state said.

The President of Belarus remarked that the two countries have a solid foundation to intensify ties. We have created a legal framework to facilitate our collaboration.

Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that the two countries will succeed in ramping up bilateral relations. “Serbia and Belarus, and the entire world have many problems to address; nevertheless, we will be able to resolve them together,” the Belarusian head of state said. He stressed that the efforts to amplify bilateral ties are not meant against anyone; the only agenda is to serve the interests of the two nations. “We, in Belarus, are ready to expand our relations as much as it is acceptable for you,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said addressing his Serbian counterpart.

“Today we greet a like-minded person, a representative of the country we have always loved so much,” the Belarusian head of state said.

The President of Serbia said that he had visited Belarus on numerous occasions before, however, this is his first visit after the election as Serbian head of state. “You said that we had a setback in our relations, but this was temporary. You know that there is nothing that can break ties between our countries and peoples. We have realized our mistake and will do our utmost to rectify it. Serbia has no enemies, and Belarus is its most important friend,” Tomislav Nikolić said. The Serbian President expressed hope that the ongoing visit will help strengthen political and economic ties between the two nations.

At the negotiations in the narrow format the two heads of state discussed the entire spectrum of the Belarusian-Serbian relations, including trade, economic, scientific, technical and humanitarian cooperation, interaction in the international arena.

When opening the meeting in the extended format, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the Presidents found conceptual solutions for many problems.

The two heads of state undertook to oversee the implementation of the new agreements and outlined the action plan for the nearest year. The countries will take stock of all the projects, agreements and treaties in the anticipation of the summer meeting of the foreign ministers. This way, they will get a clear picture what they should do next. A session of the Belarus-Serbia intergovernmental commission for trade and economic cooperation is scheduled for autumn. At the end of 2013 or the beginning of 2014, the Presidents will meet in Serbia to discuss and analyze what has been done.

“In other words, we will structure our cooperation into three parts in order to give it a solid boost,” the Belarusian head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that Belarus is ready to build all-round cooperation with Serbia, including in politics, economy, interparliamentary ties, science and technologies, and the humanitarian field.

Belarus is eager to start big joint projects with Serbia in the manufacturing sector, agriculture, construction, infrastructure development, modernization of transport and utilities systems.

“Serbia can use Belarus to expand its operations in the Customs Union, while we will be able to reach out to the Balkan region or even further from Serbia,” the Belarusian leader said.

The Belarusian head of state remarked that the countries have recently made substantial progress in advancing trade and economic cooperation. At the same time the President of Belarus believes that the existing $150 million of the bilateral trade “is a drop in the ocean and cannot make us satisfied”. “We should grow beyond the trade,” the Belarusian President said. He expressed hope that the trade between the two states will reach $0.5 billion in the near future. “Of course, we will encourage investments both in Belarus and in Serbia supporting investors, business, various industrial programs,” the Belarusian head of state said.

The two leaders believe that Belarus and Serbia need to set up joint ventures and explore the markets of third countries together. “ Tomislav Nikolić has recently said that Serbian goods are remembered, but they have nothing to sell today. This is the easiest problem we can resolve. We are ready to join efforts. We can produce, you are good at trading. Therefore, we need to join efforts and advance into foreign markets together,” the Belarusian President noted.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, Belarus hopes that the first official visit of the Serbia President will give a nudge to the development of mutually beneficial cooperation between the countries. The Belarusian leader said that there is a good platform for it, namely historical, cultural and spiritual closeness, traditional friendship and a high level of mutual respect between Slavonic nations.

“Your visit is not the start, but the continuation of our relations. We have a foundation, a legal framework of cooperation, joint ventures producing equipment. The state of things is as follows: we do not have to start from the very beginning, but after a pause in our relations, after certain misunderstanding we have to forget everything and move on. We have a foundation for it,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The Belarusian President pointed out the development of bilateral relations in healthcare, education, culture and sport.

According to Tomislav Nikolić, it is time we left behind the period of stagnation and mistakes in the Belarusian-Serbian relations. The Serbian President said that since his election, he has sought to find the opportunity to come to Belarus and “to correct any errors made in relation to Belarus.” “To lose a friend is easy, but true friends never part forever. Belarus is a great ally of Serbia. This is your personal policy. This short period of stagnation, which happened during the previous administrations, did not give us the opportunity to continue cooperation from the better positions than they are now. But it is yours and our fate,” Tomislav Nikolić said.

The President of Serbia stressed that in the domestic policy and in bilateral cooperation, it is necessary to work for the benefit and proceeding from the will of people, thus ensuring a better life for them. The existing volume of trade and economic cooperation between Belarus and Serbia does not meet the level of friendship between the two peoples and states.

Tomislav Nikolić noted that Belarus has managed to keep its production capacities intact, while Serbia drastically reduced the volume of industrial production in previous years. But now, Serbia is seeking to re-establish old friendships and old markets. "This is a chance for cooperation between Belarus and Serbia. Together we can produce, sell, buy,” the Serbian Ptesident noted.

The two countries have signed a number of different agreements, which are the basis for further cooperation.

Tomislav Nikolić praised the support of the policy and the focus on development in Belarus. “I am glad that your country successfully copes with the consequences of the global economic crisis which shakes even stronger economies,” he said.

“Everything we will agree on we will put to practice. You and I will be the guarantors of these arrangements and agreements,” Tomislav Nikolić said. “We need a good relationship based on trust, respect and willingness to make lives of our people better,” the Serbian President stated.

“By this visit I want to show that Serbia is on the path towards cooperation with all countries in the world,” the Serbian President emphasized.

“Serbia is trying to become a member of the European Union. We comply with all the requirements of the European Union Council, which are normal for any country,” Tomislav Nikolić said. “We greatly desire for Serbia to become a member of the European Union and we will do everything that a sovereign and self-dependent country, which is proud of itself, can do. But nobody can dictate us who our friends are. We believe that Belarus is one of our dearest friends,” the Serbia President said. Yet Tomislav Nikoli ć said Serbia has a problem regarding Kosovo and Metohija. “It is part of our territory where we do not exercise power. We have handed it over to the UN while they have been gradually transferring it into the hands of the Albanians year after year,” the Serbia President said. “Up till now it may have seemed that Serbia is ready to do anything to become a member of the European Union. And then everyone’s appetite went up. Today I’ve said that there are things Serbia is not ready to do even if membership in the European Union is the price,” Tomislav Nikoli ć stressed.

The President of Serbia also thanked Belarus for supporting Serbia in its fight to preserve the territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“We understand all your hardships and sorrows. Serbia has been suffering from European Union sanctions for many years. Roots of our crisis originate there. But even then we did not surrender and they were bombing us,” the President of Serbia remarked. “I hope that this type of democracy will not be introduced anywhere else”.

Tomislav Nikoli ć also thanked Aleksandr Lukashenko for his support in a difficult situation and the bravery Aleksandr Lukashenko demonstrated by visiting Serbia during bombing. “We will never forget it,” he assured.

After the negotiations the President reaffirmed their eagerness to make a considerable progress in Belarus-Serbia relations within a year.

“Of course, we did not loaf during these years, but we failed to accomplish many things. And today we have agreed that we are not only eager to fill in the gap in relations. We are convinced that we will do our best this year to promote Belarus-Serbia relations to a brand-new level in the best interests of our peoples,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out the historic importance of the meeting of the two heads of state in Minsk taking into account the fact that this is the first visit of the Serbian President to Belarus in the past 17 years. “I would like to thank you for the visit and for the courage you have displayed by coming to Belarus in the current situation which exists around us in Europe. Believe me, it will benefit our nations, and you will never regret about it,” the Belarusian head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko and Tomislav Nikoli ć signed a joint statement to reaffirm their commitment to further strengthening long-term mutually beneficial cooperation between the two states on the bilateral and multilateral agendas.

The sides confirmed that they are eager to promote bilateral political dialogue, strengthen inter-parliamentary ties, improve existing and create new mechanisms of the Belarusian-Serbian cooperation in trade and economic sectors, expand the legal framework of cooperation.

The joint statement underlines Belarus’ consistent support for the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Serbia and the development of a comprehensive and coordinated solution with regard to Kosovo and Metohija.

The sides confirmed that the two countries respect universally acknowledged norms of the international law, goals and principles of the Un Charter, commitment to strengthening the role of the United Nations in resolving the set of issues to maintain international peace and security, counteract modern challenges and threats.

The presidents also underlined the adherence of Belarus and Serbia to the resolution of international conflicts and disputes using the generally acknowledged norms of the international law and fundamental principles of the UN Charter.

The document reads that Belarus relies on Serbia’s constructive approach and support across important areas of the international agenda. The Presidents agreed to continue supporting each other’s initiatives and candidates at international organizations and to boost cooperation in regional organizations and initiatives, including the OSCE, the Central European Initiative and the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.

Taking into consideration that Serbia will assume OSCE Presidency in 2015, the two heads of state will work to ramp up cooperation in this European organization with a view to promoting an equal and balanced dialogue on security and cooperation, preserving the principle of consensus, enhancing the efficiency of the OSCE and providing assistance in creating the international legal framework of the organization.

The parties believe that only an equal and constructive dialogue can help iron out international disagreements, provided this dialogue is not impeded.

The joint statement also envisages tighter cooperation within the United Nations. The parties agreed to push for efficient and complete execution of the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons. Belarus and Serbia will urge the development of a global mechanism that will ensure equal access of all countries to new technologies of getting alternative and renewable energy.

The two Presidents agreed to hold consultations to discuss collaboration within the framework of the United Nations and European organizations.

The heads of state emphasized the relevance of efforts to bridge the technological and economic gap between members of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. They will push for a stronger mandate and greater capacities of the Commission in areas, like public-private partnership, innovative development, trade, transport and power engineering.

The Presidents of Belarus and Serbia outlined the new prospects of development of trade and economic relations in connection with the participation of the Republic of Belarus in the Customs Union and the Single Economic Space, and, stressing the importance of the free trade agreement between the Republic of Serbia and the Member States of the Customs Union, have expressed interest in further deepening of economic relations.

The heads of state expressed satisfaction with the pace of development of trade and economic cooperation and called for the deepening of bilateral ties across a number of priority areas. Among them are the increase and diversification of the mutual trade, joint search for new areas of economic cooperation, expansion of cooperation in machine building, agriculture, transport and energy sectors, food and wood industries, development of industrial cooperation and interregional relations, creation of favorable conditions for increased contacts between business circles.

Belarus and Serbia also intend to intensify scientific and technological cooperation, expand cooperation in culture, sports, tourism and education.

An intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in fighting the crime, a Belarus-Serbia agreement on legal aid in civil and criminal cases, a memorandum of cooperation in the area of information between the Belarusian Information Ministry and the Serbian Culture and Information Ministry were signed.

Tomislav Nikoli ć presented the Order of the Republic of Serbia to Belarus’ President Aleksandr Lukashenko. The order is the highest state award of Serbia. The Belarusian head of state received the award in recognition of his contribution to the development and strengthening of peaceful cooperation and friendly relations between the two nations.