Address by FDPM/MFA Ivica Dačić at the Second Conference of Honorary Consuls of the Republic of Serbia held today at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
“Esteemed honorary consuls of the Republic of Serbia,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my honour and pleasure to welcome you – on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and on my own behalf, and to thank you for your readiness to accept the invitation to participate in the deliberations of the Conference of Honorary Consuls of the Republic of Serbia, held in Belgrade, today, for the second time.
I would like to highlight the importance of the office that you are holding, and underline how greatly we appreciate your commitment to exercising the responsible functions of honorary consuls, and your significant contribution to the protection of the interests of the Republic of Serbia by providing assistance to its people.
Our intention was to take this opportunity to inform you about the basic directions of the foreign policy of the Republic of Serbia and its economic potential, as well as about the major investment projects and programmes on the revitalization and development of the Serbian economy. We would like to hear your comments and proposals concerning the possibilities for promoting our relations and cooperation with the countries where you are serving as honorary consuls. There are possibilities to enhance cooperation both in political and economic areas, as well as in scientific, cultural and other fields. Your activities and proposals can additionally enhance the position of the Republic of Serbia and promote its political, economic and cultural interests in the international community, as well as intensify our presence where necessary, particularly in countries where Serbia does not have a diplomatic or consular mission. In the discharge of your duties, you may count on my personal support, as well as the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the entire administration of the Republic of Serbia.
I wish to point out that, in the Republic of Serbia, the institution of honorary consul has a long tradition and plays an important role in diplomatic and consular relations. The first honorary consuls were appointed by the Kingdom of Serbia even before the First World War, in European cities such as Brussels, Liege and Geneva. The period following the Great War saw a sudden expansion of the institution of honorary consuls. As a result, in 1931, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia had a total of 91 honorary consuls, and out of that number 62 served in Europe. Today, the Republic of Serbia has 75 honorary consuls, including 24 in Europe, 27 in Latin America and 11 honorary consuls in the countries of Asia, and as many in Africa, one honorary consul in Australia and one in New Zealand; and we are looking forward to the termination of the procedure for appointing new honorary consuls of the Republic of Serbia.
In line with the country’s foreign policy priorities, the Serbian diplomatic service has been actively engaged, along with other state authorities, in the protection of national interests, continuation of negotiations on EU membership, development of good cooperation with key partners on the international scene and our traditional friends worldwide, the development of good-neighbourly relations, building a modern stable Serbia, preservation of international peace and respect of international law. The strategic priority of the Republic of Serbia is to become a member of the European Union. From the start of the process of its negotiations with the EU till today, Serbia has opened 12 chapters, 6 negotiating chapters in 2017 alone. I hope that the number of chapters opened will increase far more during the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, as that would be the right way to give credit to Serbia and value the progress it makes on the European path.
President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has singled out Serbia as one of the front-runners in the European integration process, underlining that he would work on implementing the enlargement Strategy defining more closely the timeline for Serbia’s accession to the EU, up to 2025.
In the context of endeavours aimed at preserving national interests in Kosovo and Metohija, we continue to invest overarching efforts in different multilateral fora to protect our territorial integrity and sovereignty with all diplomatic means at our disposal, and to prevent the attempts of “Kosovo” from joining various international organizations.
In this context, we have achieved positive results in Interpol, World Customs Organization, UNESCO. It is important to add that we were strongly backed in these matters by our friends from all across the world and by you and your selfless assistance, for which reason I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my deep gratitude.
I underscore once again that Belgrade is fully committed to the dialogue with Pristina, led under the auspices of the EU, and we expect Pristina to honour and implement the undertaken obligations.
The Republic of Serbia wants to have good relations with all neighbouring countries and therefore it improves them both bilaterally and regionally, especially in the areas of economy and implementation of infrastructural projects. My colleagues and representatives of economic departments in the Government of the Republic of Serbia will present economic developments and the economic situation in Serbia.
On this occasion, I would like to underline that one of the top priorities of the Government of the Republic of Serbia is to create a favourable business and investment environment, as a precondition for the promotion of economic growth and development. New regulations have been adopted to facilitate administrative procedures as much as possible and offer guarantees for foreign investments, thus significantly promoting the investment cooperation climate. Opportunities for economic cooperation are also presented through many free trade agreements that Serbia signed with a number of states. The above described potential of Serbia has been recognized by numerous prominent persons worldwide, who have already developed a business cooperation in Serbia.
In the past years, the Republic of Serbia has liberalized its visa regime for a large number of countries, in order to create the best possible setting and make Serbia more attractive for the visits of foreign tourists, businesspeople and investors. Entry and stay in the Republic of Serbia without a visa have been made possible for foreign citizens, holding ordinary passports, coming from 84 countries. For the citizens of the Republic of Serbia, there is no visa requirement for travel to 68 states.
When you return to your countries, we expect you to continue to extend support to our diplomatic missions in a quality promotion of economic potential of the Republic of Serbia, as well as in exploring new opportunities for cooperation. In this effort you will always have our full support.
At the same time, I want to thank you for what you have done so far as well as for what you will do in the future, and particularly for your readiness and commitment to the performance of duties of an Honorary Consul of the Republic of Serbia.
I am confident that the Second Conference will contribute to the promotion of dialogue on all issues of common interest, as well as to the establishment of closer ties and cooperation between the Republic of Serbia and the countries where you perform your important and demanding tasks and duties as Honorary Consuls.
I would like to thank you for your attention, wishing us all to achieve a lot more success together.”