Remarks made by First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dacic at a ceremony commemorating the Serbian Diplomacy Day:
I am pleased that it has been for three consecutive years that we have been observing the Serbian Diplomacy Day, to commemorate the decision to modernize the foreign affairs portfolio.
The history of Serbian diplomacy has been much longer than this date symbolizes, having in mind that the interstate communication is as old as the Serbian state itself. However, due to the discontinuity between the medieval and modern Serbian state, 29 May 1839 has been chosen, on the basis of archival stock, to stand for the beginning of a new institutionalized diplomatic activity of Serbia.
From the historical point of view, diplomacy has modified the instruments and means of its action, but its substance has remained the same. Once less visible, today much more present in the media, it has always had the same task and the same goal – to preserve national interests through its engagement, in the best possible way.
Generally speaking, diplomacy is perceived as the art of negotiation. However, there is much more to diplomacy than that: first and foremost, it is a regulated system of established jurisdictions and responsibilities of all state bodies participating in its creation and implementation, whose work has been defined under the highest legal acts of a country and in line with public international law.
The basic aim of diplomacy is to help its country to attain the best possible positioning in its relations with other states through a constant exchange of views, harmonizing positions and reaching agreements, in order to remove or minimize threats posed to its interests.
In order to keep up with the world, it is necessary to continue modernizing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which will – by maintaining its current hierarchical structure and by organizing a flexible diplomatic service, while fully implementing all the tools of technology – ensure a timely response to both current, and sudden and unexpected developments and, through an immediate and precise access to information, provide quality diplomatic reporting.
In line with the global trends,the traditional diplomatic service – divided into the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the diplomatic and consular network, needs to become compatible with both the state administration system and, on the broader level, also with supranational and regional entities. Only organized in this way can diplomacy respond to the challenges of our century, providing diplomats with ways and means to appropriately apply their knowledge and skills in the international arena.
The diplomacy of the 21st century is not focused on quick reporting. This sphere is completely dominated by major media outlets and the Internet, whereas diplomacy, by engaging knowledge, experience and potential of its staff, distinguishes the essential, from the wealth of information available. What once was the problem of access to information has been largely replaced, today, by the problem of its processing. Therefore, the focus of modern diplomacy is on analysis. By recognizing trends and following their development, it endeavours to identify potential consequences, to the effect of pre-emptive and active engagement. Modern diplomacy has been multiplying its power by way of quality selection of information, and rational use of its capacities.
At the global level, it is noticeable that only a few countries have the attributes or the potential of a power, while the gap between these, and small and medium-sized countries continues to grow in terms of their military, economic and political capacities.
Smaller-country diplomacy is ever more frequently facing the dilemma as to whether to follow all global developments or almost none at all, whether to join a powerful ally seeking protection or adopt a passive status of non-interference and non-intervention with respect to problems. The observation of Thucydides in his History of the Peloponnesian War that “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”, continues to be relevant indeed, in today’s international relations. The situation in the Balkans in the late 20th century, perhaps, most vividly reflects the magnitude of the said gap and the influence of the position of strength.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Analysing the position of Serbia in the global and regional frameworks, the challenges it has been facing and its potential for addressing them, I would like to emphasize, once again, that both the early 20th and early 21st centuries were marked by the country’s diplomatic battle for the preservation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty, and objective understanding of facts.
Serbia’s realistic review of the security and political challenges facing it, as well as its firm determination to resolve all disagreements and problems, through dialogue and other diplomatic means, basically aimed at preservation of regional peace and stability – have demonstrated, once again, its capacities to act in a pragmatic and responsible way.
Frequent meetings between Serbia’s high officials and world leaders confirm that the Government of the Republic of Serbia is taking resolute steps towards creating stronger bonds with its existing friends, as well as creating quality new relations with countries whose opinions regarding some issues it does not share in common, understanding the differences in their opinions and positions.
The Government of the Republic of Serbia will continue its principled quest for the preservation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, it will strongly oppose indications of the creation of a so-called Kosovo army and other attempts at joining international organizations, and will remain committed to the continuation of the negotiation process with the EU, further development of good-neighbourly relations and its military neutrality.
In the period behind us we have marked the anniversaries of establishing diplomatic relations with Spain (100th anniversary), Canada (75 years) and Mongolia (60 years) by organizing appropriate cultural events. This year we will celebrate 180 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom and the hundredth anniversary of diplomatic relations with Sweden and Denmark.
In conclusion, I would like to highlight that, this year, the Republic of Serbia is observing the 800th anniversary of the coronation of the first Serbian King Stefan the First-Crowned. As I already indicated at the beginning of my address, irrespective of the discontinuity of the medieval and modern Serbian state, the awareness of the power, magnitude and the cultural model established in the 13th century has remained deeply engraved in the collective memory of the Serbian people. Serbian medieval rulers – by their wise diplomatic acts, skilful balancing between the Byzantine Empire, as the most powerful European state at the time, and the growing commercial city-states in the West, and by establishing family ties with influential dynasties in their surroundings – laid the foundations of the Serbian state, where first schools and hospitals were opened and first laws were adopted, while it continued to fascinate the world public, even today, with its magnificent endowments. Old Ras, Studenica, Sopoćani, Gračanica, Visoki Dečani, Our Lady of Ljeviš and the Peć Patriarchate have been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Because of their monumental architecture, unique fresco-painting, extraordinary colours, and as the bulwark of the spiritual power of the Serbian people, Serbia’s medieval monasteries must be preserved, particularly those located in the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, due to which their defence continues to be our highest priority.
Dear friends, thank you for gracing our solemn event with your presence. I hope that we will continue our cooperation to the effect of seeking common solutions, and finding the right measure of both our own and the interests of other states.