Ministry of Foreign Affairs Academy
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1 Jun 2018

Ambassador June Soomer, Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States, gave a lecture to Diplomatic Academy attendees

Secretary General of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), Ambassador June Soomer called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during her official visit to the Republic of Serbia, and gave a lecture at the Diplomatic Academy.
In her address, Ambassador Soomer presented organizational structure and the scope of activities of the ACS focusing on the importance of their geostrategic and geographic position. She spoke about the potential of the countries of the region and the challenges they face due to climate change. She underlined, in particular, the importance of Serbia's participation as an ACS observer and pointed out that the signed Framework Agreement on Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Serbia and ACS is the legal framework for the development of the future cooperation with the member states in the areas of common interest such as tourism, education, culture, protection against natural disasters, etc.

31 May 2018


Speaker of the People's National Assembly of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau Cipriano Cassama gave a lecture to the students of the Serbian MFA's Diplomatic Academy, during his official visit to the Republic of Serbia.

Speaker Cassama presented his country through a brief historical overview, with special emphasis on Guinea-Bissau's struggle for independence, political and economic system, and natural resources.

Mr. Cassama underlined the traditionally friendly relations between our two countries, dating back to the times of the Non-Aligned Movement, which constitute a good basis and potential for the enhancement of bilateral cooperation in all areas of mutual interest.

In the end, the Speaker of the People's National Assembly of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau emphasized that his country did not recognize the independence of "Kosovo" and that it respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia.

14 May 2018


Students of the Vienna Diplomatic Academy, accompanied by the Academy Director, Ambassador Emil Brix, visited today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia within the framework of a study visit to the Balkan region. On the occasion, a lecture was given by the Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Bilateral Cooperation, Tamara Rastovac- Siamashvili.

In the lecture, Mrs. Tamara Rastovac-Siamashvili presented the foreign policy objectives of the Republic of Serbia, highlighting the main priorities, including EU membership, preservation of the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty, regional stability and cooperation, economic diplomacy and military neutrality. The Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister underlined Serbia's commitment to strengthening cooperation with all key partners in international relations, both the EU countries and the United States, as well as the Russian Federation, PR of China and other countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Tamara Rastovac further discussed Serbia's participation in regional initiatives, and different forms of trilateral and quadrilateral cooperation, aimed, altogether, at promoting good-neighbourly relations and preserving the stability in the region. After the lecture, the Deputy Assistant Minister for Bilateral Cooperation responded to a series of student questions.

The Vienna Diplomatic Academy Director, Ambassador Emil Brix, also held a lecture, attended by the participants of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Diplomatic Academy and trainees, as well as students of the Belgrade University Faculty of Political Science.

The visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Vienna Diplomatic Academy students has traditionally been organized for many years, as a result of cooperation between the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia and the Vienna Diplomatic Academy.

9 May 2018

Clemson University students visit Serbian MFA

In the context of their study visit to the Republic of Serbia, a group of students attending the South Carolina Clemson University (USA) visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia. The Ministry and the University have maintained years-long cooperation.

On the occasion, the students were given lectures by Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Bilateral Cooperation Tamara Rastovac-Siamashvili, Acting Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Security Policy Ambassador Branimir Filipovic and Assistant Director at the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Dejan Pavicevic.

Ms. Tamara Rastovac-Siamashvili introduced the US students to Serbia's foreign policy objectives, and to the Ministry's organizational structure, highlighting the European integration process and the preservation of the country's territorial integrity and sovereignty as major priorities, while emphasizing the efforts that Serbia had invested to strengthen both its cooperation with all the countries from the region, and the overall regional stability. She also underscored the importance of Serbia's cooperation with the EU and the United States, as well as with the Russian Federation, People's Republic of China and the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, pointing to the importance that Serbia attached to its participation in regional initiatives and in different forms of trilateral and quadrilateral cooperation.

Speaking about the foreign political aspects of Serbia's security policy, Ambassador Branimir Filipovic focused on the forms of cooperation that Serbia maintains with NATO through PfP, within the framework of its policy of military neutrality. He also touched on the SAF participation in peacekeeping missions led by the UN and EU, Serbia's cooperation with the European Union in the field of the common security and defence policy, and on Serbia's engagement in the area of arms control, disarmament and WMD non-proliferation.

Through interactive communication, Assistant Director at the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Dejan Pavicevic acquainted the students with the course of the Belgrade-Pristina negotiations, the Serbs' situation and the current developments in the southern Serbian Province.

Following the lectures, the students toured the Museum of Serbian Diplomacy.

2 April 2018

American University's Brussels Centre students visit Ministry of Foreign Affairs

A group of students attending the American University's Brussels Centre, headed by Professor Jerome Sheridan, visited today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, in the context of the traditional study visit to Belgrade.

On the occasion, the students were given lectures by Mr Vladimir Medjak, PhD, former coordinator and current lecturer at the MFA Diplomatic Academy, Mr Branislav Pekic, Minister-Counsellor at the MFA Security Policy Sector and Mr Dusan Kozarev, Deputy Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija.

Through the prism of the European integration of the entire Western Balkan region, Dr Vladimir Medjak introduced the American students to the course of Serbia's EU accession negotiations, including the timeline of all the stages, from the beginning to the present day, with special emphasis on the chapters opened so far.

While speaking about Serbia's foreign policy priorities in the area of security policy, Mr Branislav Pekic underlined the goals of Serbia's security policy in the framework of foreign policy, pointing to the cooperation maintained at the international level and laying stress on Serbia's participation in the PfP programme, and on the participation of SAF personnel in UN- and EU-led peace missions.

The final lecture was held by Deputy Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Dusan Kozarev. Mr. Kozarev spoke to the students about the Serbian historical and cultural heritage in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, the status of the Serbs and the current situation in the southern Serbian Province, as well as about the course of the Belgrade – Pristina negotiations.

27 March 2018


In cooperation with the Belgrade University Faculty of Security Studies, the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia organized a third-year students' visit to the MFA. The students are currently doing a course in Diplomacy and Defence within their study program.

Students were met at the Museum of Serbian Diplomacy by MFA Secretary General Mr. Veljko Odalovic and Head of the Diplomatic Academy Ms. Mirjana Milosavljevic, who addressed them.

Secretary General Odalovic introduced the students to the organizational structure of the Ministry and to the network of diplomatic and consular missions of the Republic of Serbia abroad, with particular regard to the competences of each sector individually, pointing to the main characteristics and specificities of the diplomatic profession at the present time.

Ms. Milosavljevic spoke about the history and practice of professional training and specialization of both diplomats and civil servants, the competences of the Diplomatic Academy, the syllabus of the Diplomatic and Consular Exam and about the internships hosted by the Ministry and its diplomatic and consular missions in foreign countries.

15 March 2018


The Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Belgrade co-hosted a visit today to the Ministry by a group of ten US Clemson University students, who are attending a semester at the Faculty of Political Science, within their "Clemson study abroad" program.
During their visit, the students had talks with Head of the Diplomatic Academy Mirjana Milosavljevic, Deputy Assistant Minister for Bilateral Affairs Tamara Rastovac-Siamasvili as well as with the Acting Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Branimir Filipovic. At the end of their visit to the Ministry the US students visited the Museum of Serbian Diplomacy.

14 March 2018


DA Serbia and MaroccoFirst Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia Ivica Dacic and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco Nasser Bourita signed today the Memorandum on Cooperation between the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia and the Moroccan Academy for Diplomatic Studies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Morocco.
Minister Dacic also held a lecture to the trainees of the Moroccan Academy for Diplomatic Studies focusing on the foreign policy priorities and European integration of the Republic of Serbia, as well as on the regional cooperation and current international topics.

2 March 2018


Following the introductory speech by the Head of the Diplomatic Academy on marking the 70th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations with the Republic of India, Professor Emeritus Kishan Rana, former Ambassador of India, held a lecture entitled "21st Century Diplomacy" for the participants of the 2017/2018 Basic Diplomatic Training Programme and employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Beginning his lecture, Ambassador Rana underlined the traditionally friendly relations between the two countries, rooted in the Non-Aligned Movement. He spoke about current trends in the diplomatic practice and 21st century diplomacy, increasing role of bilateral diplomacy, economic, public and cultural diplomacy, and the role of professional diplomacy in the achievement of national interests and objectives.

Giving a series of examples from his rich diplomatic career, Ambassador Kishan Rana shared his experience in diplomatic practice with the Diplomatic Training participants, offering useful advice to young diplomats.

26 February 2018


A group of Israeli high school students, participating in the "Young Israeli Ambassadors" programme, accompanied by an Embassy representative, visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia, on 26 February 2018. Secretary General of the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Veljko Odalovic held a lecture on the foreign policy priorities of Serbia.

In a brief presentation, Ms. Milica Vujovic – Rojl, Counsellor in the European Union Sector, highlighted the relations between the Republic of Serbia and Israel, including the culture and tourism potential of the Republic of Serbia.

26 February 2018


Following the introductory remarks made by the Head of the Diplomatic Academy, and Ambassador Milos Strugar, Prof. Dr. Qin Yaqing, President of China Foreign Affairs University and Rector of the Chinese Diplomatic Academy, held a lecture today on "Global Governance and the International Order" for the participants of the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia.

Professor Qin Yaqing underlined the importance of multilateral institutionalism as a new pillar of the future world order that will embrace pluralism and different interests, encourage participation and networking of all actors, indicating partnership values. The Professor underlined that the new world order made it incumbent on all participants in international relations to create - notwithstanding multiculturalism, an area of multilateral institutional action to address global problems and pursue good and effective governance.

23 February 2018


The Head of the OSCE Mission to the Republic of Serbia, Ambassador Andrea Orizio, held a lecture "OSCE Mission's Mandate in the Republic of Serbia" for the participants of the Diplomatic Academy. After the opening remarks made by Mrs. Mirjana Milosavljevic, Head of the Diplomatic Academy, Ambassador Andrea Orizio explained the role and importance of the mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the world, underlining a series of different tasks arising from the specific problems facing the countries where the Organization was active.

Speaking about the role and the significance of the OSCE Mission to the Republic of Serbia, Ambassador Andrea Orizio indicated the goals of the Mission's mandate to provide assistance and advice to the civil society relating to the strengthening of independent and effective institutions, particularly in the areas of the rule of law, human rights, media, police in fighting organized trafficking in persons and narcotics, etc..

Ambassador Orizio particularly emphasized OSCE's assistance in judicial reform aimed at promoting an independent justice administration system, improving professionalism, independence, accountability and efficiency of the judiciary in line with the European standards and values.

13 February 2018


FilipovicFirst-year students of the 7th Class of Advanced Security and Defence Studies visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia.

Acting Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Security Policy Ambassador Branimir Filipovic and Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for EU Dejan Ralevic welcomed the students and gave a lecture to them.

Ambassador Filipovic pointed to Serbia's foreign policy priorities and the results of cooperation between our country and the NATO Partnership for Peace Programme in the framework of military neutrality policy, cooperation with the EU on the Common Security and Defence Policy, as well as Serbia's engagement in the field of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

He indicated the readiness of the Republic of Serbia to share responsibility at regional, European and global levels in facing security challenges and emphasized that our country has been recognized as an exporter of security and a reliable partner internationally, making a key contribution to the preservation of regional peace and stability as a basic precondition for economic and all other types of progress in the region as a whole.

Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for European Affairs Dejan Ralevic spoke to the students about the political process related to Serbia's EU integration, as well as about the most important challenges and specific issues that Serbia is facing including the prospects in the process of EU negotiations and accession talks.

He recalled that in January 2014, the Republic of Serbia officially embarked upon EU accession negotiations, that out of 35 it opened 12 chapters so far, while two have been provisionally closed. He said that EU membership was a foreign policy priority of Serbia and noted positive messages in the recently published strategy for "credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkans" prepared by the European Commission including our expectations in that regard.

At the end of the lecture, the students of the Advanced Security and Defence Studies had an opportunity to ask questions and engage in conversation with the lecturers.

11 January 2018

Minister of Foreign Affairs Dacic held a lecture "Serbian Foreign Policy Priorities" for the attendees of the Diplomatic Academy programme

Ivica DacicFirst Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic held the following lecture entitled "Serbian Foreign Policy Priorities" for the attendees of the Diplomatic Academy programme:

"Dear participants of the Diplomatic Academy programme,
Dear colleagues,

After realistically reviewing the security and political challenges that we are facing today, and respecting international law, the Republic of Serbia has defined the following as its key foreign policy priorities: principled fight for the preservation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty; continuation of the negotiating process with the European Union pending full membership; further development of good-neighbourly relations; strengthening economic bonds with major countries; and military neutrality. In the implementation of its foreign policy goals, the Republic of Serbia is guided by its legitimate national interests, resorting to diplomatic activity and dialogue as a means of deepening the traditionally good relations with friendly countries, while establishing, at the same time, better quality relations with those partners in the international community with which we share positions on certain issues and understand differences of opinion. Such a policy of independent decision-making which is, we are convinced, realistic and right, requires a lot of effort to reflect nuanced positions and strike a balance among many divergent interests that are conflicting, more often than not.

Today, Serbia is on the right track, as a result of its foreign policy and the strategic choices made over the past years. The reform path and European Union membership, on the one hand, and the enhancement of its relations with world policymakers – Russia, China and the United States, on the other, as well as the development of the relations with friendly counties of Africa, Asia and South America, whereas the essential and foremost priority in its foreign policy action is to preserve the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country, with Kosovo and Metohija as an integral part of Serbia.

Irrespective of the fact that these priorities seem to be mutually antagonistic – preservation of Kosovo and Metohija vis-à-vis European Union membership, enhancement of relations with the Russian Federation as well as with the United States – actually they are not, because they are anchored in the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, and because they are being pursued while abiding by the fundamental principles of international law.

In the diplomatic efforts to protect international law and the principles of the United Nations Charter, that is, the principles of sovereign equality and inviolability of territorial integrity, Serbia is actively engaged on bilateral and multilateral levels. It has close cooperation with friendly countries that have not recognized the unilateral declaration of the so-called Republic of Kosovo aimed at preparing argumentation and adopting a joint position towards third countries and international organizations so as to prevent the membership attempts of so-called Kosovo. In defiance of the vast lobbying on the part of some Euro-Atlantic countries in order to promote independence of so-called Kosovo, Serbia has made a significant accomplishment in this respect. Last year, Serbia prevented the attempt of so-called Kosovo to become a member of UNESCO and Interpol, while it was particularly engaged in denying its admission to the World Customs Organization. In this context, I would like to underline that the joint efforts on the international level by Serbia's highest officials and all the relevant ministries and institutions have resulted in the slowed process of new recognitions of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo, as well as the revocation of recognitions, as seen in the cases of Suriname and Guinea Bissau.

At the regular quarterly sessions of the UN Security Council devoted to the work of UNMIK, Serbia continued its activities to the effect of preserving the format and the existing dynamic of convening UNSC sessions concerning the UN Secretary-General's Reports on the work of UNMIK. We are continuously drawing attention to the fact that the presence of UNMIK - in the existing format without downsizing it and change of mandate – as the guarantor of status neutrality of the international presence in Kosovo and Metohija is vitally important for the security and confidence-building among the communities in Kosovo and Metohija. On the other hand, we regret to note that the other side has made no progress in respect of establishing the Community of Serbian Municipalities, and we wish to warn that the unilateral acts of Pristina, particularly its efforts aimed at creating "Kosovo Armed Forces", are unacceptable. Activities continue on the international level to improve the status and protect the rights of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Kosovo and Metohjija, and to work on the full implementation of the Regional Housing Programme for refugees.

The role of KFOR in Kosovo and Metohija, in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1244, is exceptionally important not only from the aspect of Serbia's interests, but the region as a whole. Serbia fully supports the mandate of the KFOR Mission, and it is highly important that its presence in Kosovo in Metohija is not downsized. Serbia highly appreciates NATO's approach that decisions on the size and deployment of KFOR forces be made based on the assessment of the security situation, without setting premature frameworks. KFOR plays a highly important role in the protection of the Serbian inhabitants, as well as in respect of Serbian cultural and religious heritage sites in the Province.

Membership of the European Union is one of Serbia's strategic foreign policy priorities. Although we believe that Serbia could make more rapid progress along its EU path, we support the "regatta principle" based on the assessment of progress made by individual states, rather than all regional states in a "package". Last year has seen the opening of 6 negotiating chapters out of the total of 12 that Serbia has opened thus far, whereas 8 are at various stages of the negotiations.

On the other hand, Serbia's commitment to Common Foreign and Security Policy has been demonstrated through its participation in military and police peace missions, building capacities for participation in civilian peace operations, cooperation in the fight against terrorism, including successful cooperation with the EU during the refugee and migrant crisis. Serbia has embarked on a review of its strategic documents in the security and defence areas, guided by the Global EU Strategy and other strategic EU documents.

A special segment in Serbia – EU negotiations is Chapter 35, which determines to a considerable extent the course of the entire process. Achievement of progress in the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue is set as a condition for progressing in other areas, which aggravates the process because of Pristina's continued obstruction of the implementation of the agreements reached.

Developed and successful regional cooperation through many regional initiatives is also conducive to Serbia's EU membership. The Republic of Serbia has taken a constructive stand in respect of the participation of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in Pristina in the work of regional forums, which is a requirement under Chapter 35. In compliance with the agreements reached, Serbia has accepted the participation of "Kosovo*" (with an asterisk and the known text of the footnote): in the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), South East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) and the activities in the Migration, Asylum and Refugee Regional Initiative (MARRI).

I particularly wish to single out the on-going "Berlin Process". Four summits have been held so far: in Berlin, Vienna, Paris and Trieste, and 19 meetings convened at the level of relevant Western Balkans government ministries and the European Commission. Within the framework of the "Berlin Process", Serbia has worked devotedly to deliver on the commitments undertaken within the framework of the "Connectivity Agenda" – the initial backbone of the process, aimed at construction and development of infrastructure as the basis for an accelerated regional development, where Serbia has made greatest progress compared to the rest of the region. At the most recent Summit in Trieste, Serbia and other Balkan countries commenced their work on strengthening trade, investment and digital connectivity.

Serbia considers its relations with NATO through the Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme as a highly important area of its foreign and security policy. Serbia is pursuing its policy of military neutrality, reflecting its desire not to join any military alliance. However, military neutrality is not an obstacle to the promotion of its partner cooperation with NATO. Political dialogue has been on the rise, particularly following the adoption of Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP). The standards reached through the participation in the PfP programme proved considerably conducive to Serbia's successful participation in UN- and EU-led missions and operations. A proof of the high level of cooperation with NATO is the fact that, this year, Serbia will be hosting, for the first time, emergency response exercise. The Republic of Serbia is participating in four EU missions, with a total of 35 Serbian Armed Forces (SAF) personnel, and additional six UN missions and operations (Congo, Liberia, Cyprus, Lebanon, Middle East and the Central African Republic). In 2017, almost 700 SAF personnel took part in peace missions and operations worldwide.

Fight against terrorism is a joint task, particularly in respect of radical Islamism and the Jihadist phenomenon. Serbia is a member of the Global Coalition against ISIS/Daesh. It devotes particular attention to the "foreign terrorist fighters" phenomenon, that is, the registered soaring of radicalisation and violent extremism in Kosovo and Metohija (according to the estimates, more than 300 persons from Kosovo and Metohija have participated in ISIS ranks, on the battlefields of Syria and Iraq). Moreover, equally threatening is the registered presence of terrorist organizations' cells including Al Qaeda, Mujahideen and the Wahabi movement.

The energy security issue constitutes one of the key factors in the economic development of states. Energy supply is not solely an economic issue, but also a national security issue. Serbia supports Energy Community priorities in a series of projects significant for the entire region – "Trans Adriatic Pipeline", "Adriatic Ionian Pipeline", construction of interconnectors, construction of liquefied gas terminals, etc., whereas the activities concerning the "Turk Stream" are also being followed attentively.

One of the foremost foreign policy priorities of the Republic of Serbia is the preservation of the stability in the region, enhancement of good-neighbourliness and further economic recovery, including higher standard of living for all people. We have as yet clearly confirmed in each and every situation, without exception, Serbia's determination to address, by way of dialogue, all outstanding issues with its immediate neighbours in the region. This approach has produced significant results, last year.

The visit of Turkish President Erdogan to Serbia has opened, according to mutual assessment, a new chapter in the relations between the two countries. During the visit, 15 inter-state agreements were signed, including the declaration on the establishment of the High-Level Cooperation Council between the two countries, whose first session is expected to convene in 2018. The relations between Serbia and Greece have been raised to the highest level; the Greek President and Prime Minister visited Belgrade and the First Session of the High-Level Cooperation Council with that country was held in Thessaloniki.

Political dialogue is held on the highest level, both in trilateral and quadrilateral formats – with Greece, Bulgaria and Romania. It is our expectation that the intensity of the dialogue in this format will be maintained in 2018, as well, whereas the next quadrilateral meeting is scheduled to take place in March 2018, in Bucharest. Last year saw the renewal of the trilateral format at foreign ministers level with Turkey and Bosnia and Herzegovina, while we are also resolved to continue the trilateral cooperation on the level of foreign ministers of Serbia, Italy and Albania.

It should be pointed out that we recently substantially promoted dialogue with Albania. In that sense, I would single out in particular our joint interest in projects Nis-Pristina-Durres highway, Belgrade-Podgorica-Shkoder-Durres railway as well as setting up of the Regional Youth Cooperation Office and the Western Balkans Fund, etc.

Despite Serbia's efforts to normalize and promote relations in its neighbourhood and the region, we have to be frank and admit that the other side often did not reciprocate by offering a hand in return. As you know, this was much in evidence in the last year at our meetings with Bosniak officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina, officials of Croatia, Macedonia... Still, our country will not be discouraged by such conduct of our neighbours to implement its clearly defined priorities and it will continue to promote the policy of good-neighbourliness and cooperation preventing at the same time any unprincipled conditioning and attempts to internationalize issues that fall exclusively within the competence of sovereign States.

Our interest lies in developing best relations possible with leading European countries. I would single out in particular Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Austria and other European countries.
One of our foreign policy priorities is maintenance and promotion of the already good relations with the Russian Federation. Based upon traditionally good relations we have built a strategic partnership by signing the Sochi Declaration in May 2013. We maintain regular highest level communication. Russia is one of the leading foreign trading partners to Serbia. In addition to the economy, the two countries have successful cooperation in the fields of energy, culture, science and other areas. Russia fully supports the territorial integrity of Serbia, both at bilateral and multilateral level.

On the other hand, we also wish to take our relations with the United States one step further. Although our positions regarding the resolution of the Kosovo issue differ, we are committed to the same goal of stability in the Western Balkans. In order to achieve this goal, Serbia is a reliable and responsible partner. Over the past years, political dialogue at the highest level has been stepped up, coupled with development of economic and military cooperation.

Recently, the relations with China have considerably improved leading to strategic partnership and the visit of the Chinese President to Serbia in 2016. We exchange support on issues of key interests to both States and maintain dialogue at all levels. The Republic of Serbia fully supports the initiative of the Chinese President Xi Jinping "Belt and Road" and actively participates in the cooperation mechanism between China and 16 Central and Eastern European countries. At economic level, Chinese companies are leading infrastructure contractors in Serbia improving the connections both within the country and the whole region, thus creating favourable environment for foreign investments. As a result, Serbia is currently the country with the largest number of joint projects in Central and Eastern Europe.

Yugoslav "Third Way" policy and its leading role in the Movement of Non-aligned Countries today represents Serbia's foreign policy asset in the fight for the preservation of our territorial integrity since most of African, Latin American and Asian countries share our views regarding the respect of international law. In that sense, Serbia attaches great importance to the development of comprehensive cooperation with these traditional friends, especially in terms of restoring economic cooperation and attracting investments as those States, including BRICS countries, are the engines of the global economy.

Although not being a typical foreign policy priority, protection of the rights and interests of our nationals and legal persons and provision of many services and various forms of assistance to them abroad, figure high on the agenda of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For example, in 2017 with the assistance of Spanish and French Governments and national air carrier Air Serbia, 14 Serbian nationals stranded in the Caribbean region in the wake of Hurricane Irma were successfully evacuated. One of the priorities also includes the process of visa liberalization. Foreign nationals, holders of ordinary passports from 78 countries can travel to and stay in Serbia without visas while nationals of 116 countries still need visas. Our nationals can travel to 68 countries without visas and still need visas for 126 countries. The Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the PR of China on mutual abolishment of visas for holders of ordinary passports, which entered into force a year ago, is being successfully implemented. In 2017, in a bid to increase tourist visits and attract foreign investments the Serbian Government decided to abolish visas for the nationals of Peru, Iran, India, Indonesia, Guinea Bissau and Suriname.

The role of honorary consuls should also be mentioned here. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs steadily expands its network of honorary consuls. So far, the Republic of Serbia has 73 honorary consuls abroad. In September 2017, we established a consular post in Spain, headed by an honorary consul, with a seat in Zaragoza. In January and February 2018, we plan to formally open a consulate headed by an honorary consul in Perth, Australia, Serbian consulate in Martin in the Slovak Republic and Serbian consulate headed by an honorary consul in Auckland, New Zealand.
The protection of the rights and interests of our nationals abroad and development and promotion of ties with Serbs in the region and diaspora is a constitutional duty. To that end, one of the priorities include activities aimed at cooperating with the diaspora and the Serbs in the region, with a view to promoting economic cooperation, affirming Serbian culture and preserving the Serbian language abroad.

As motherland, Serbia has an interest in enabling the nationals of the Republic of Serbia and members of Serb communities abroad to enjoy all individual and collective rights guaranteed under international conventions and bilateral international agreements. The Republic of Serbia seeks to help diaspora and the Serbs in the region to become integrated in the States in which they live, bearing in mind that only a well-integrated community can contribute to the promotion of bilateral relations.

On the other hand, integration runs the risk of ending up as assimilation. To avoid that, we are making all efforts to meet the needs of Serb nationals and ex-compatriots abroad and help them to preserve their national and cultural identity.

In that connection, intensification of bilateral dialogue with the States from the region also pertains to the promotion of the rights of members of Serb people in the regional States regarding the use of Serbian and Cyrillic alphabet, nurturing Serbian culture, national history and freedom-loving traditions, preservation of national geography, preservation and protection of Serbian political representation and association in the countries they live in.

I hope that I have managed to provide more concrete information on some of the major challenges and achievements of our foreign policy and thank you for your attention.

Thank you."