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Keeping traditional bonds and strengthening them

During a recent visit to India, Gateway House hosted Aleksandar Vučić, then Prime Minister of Serbia. Mr. Vučić was elected President of Serbia on 2 April 2017.

Virpratap Vikram Singh (GH): Thank you, Prime Minister Vučić , for making time for our questions. What is Serbia’s position in the world right now?

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić: Serbia is, geographically speaking, at a crossroads–somewhere between West and East. Politically speaking, our strategic goal is to be a full member state of the European Union. We are firmly on our EU path, and at the same time, we are the only European country that didn’t impose any sanctions against Russia. We are the country which has the best possible relationship with many African and Asian countries, with India traditionally having been one of Serbia’s biggest political friends. India has always supported the territorial integrity of Serbia. We did the same with India. And we have always condemned all terrorist activities in India, because there are no good terrorists, they are always evil. And this is something that we actually share with the Indian people. I think that’s the position of an independent, sovereign country in the real sense of this word, one that is on its EU path, yet not only keeping intact traditional bonds and ties with friends, but also strengthening them.

GH: You mentioned India and Serbia’s strong relationship historically and even in the present. How can the bilateral be strengthened?

Prime Minister Vučić: We need to improve our economic relationship. We need to attract more Indian investors to our country, boost our trade exchange, and also bring some of our people to do business in India, and then increase the people-to-people relationship as well.

Serbia is the only country in the whole of Europe where Indians will feel at home–because we’ve always supported freedom-loving people. Mahatma Gandhi is still one out of five most important historical figures in our country. His salt marches and everything else about him is in our textbooks.

Also, today I am able to immediately speak about 20 cities in India. Others may or may not be able to, but we in Serbia can. It shows our attitude, our stance on our friendship. We should rationalise it, improve our economic cooperation, and then everything will be much better. We are going to create easy access to Serbia for Indians and vice versa, and we are going to discuss how to make it a visa-free regime between our two countries.

We have a good political relationship–although this is the first Prime Minister-level visit after 30 years. This means that we had forgotten our friends in the East. Of course, we are small, and I am, therefore, profoundly grateful to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for paying attention to Serbia, and inviting me to visit. But I think that we’ll be seeing a more significant role for Serbia in Europe as well.

GH: We look forward to hearing more news on that and to hosting you again in Mumbai.

Prime Minister Vučić: I learnt a lot today about India and about the sincerity and seriousness with which the Indian people are actually taking care of foreign affairs: it shows that you are on a good path. I wish all the best to your Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and all the best to Gateway House: I would like to be able to boast about such a great think tank that you have here in Mumbai.

GH: Thank you very much.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić is the Prime Minister of Serbia.

Virpratap Vikram Singh is the Website Content Manager at Gateway House.

This interview was exclusively conducted for Gateway House: Indian Council on Global Relations. You can read more exclusive content here.

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