First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia Ivica Dacic received today, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s 25th class of the National Defence College participants in Geo-strategic world studies, paying a study visit to Serbia.
On this occasion, the Serbian Foreign Minister informed the guests about Serbian foreign policy and the security challenges the country is facing.
Following is the address by Minister Dacic:
“Generals and Officers,
I am very pleased to see the continuation of the tradition of study visits by the National Defence College of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia and to have the opportunity to inform you of the foreign policy of the Republic of Serbia, as well as the current security challenges and threats facing the Republic of Serbia.
Within the framework of Serbia’s foreign policy priorities, the relations with Africa play an exceptionally high role. Serbia as one of the major successors of the former Yugoslavia is endeavouring to pursue strategic partnership and cooperation with African countries. In this light, our cooperation with the African Union is very successful and substantive. Serbia regularly participates at African Union Summits, on the highest level. We consider the visit to Serbia by African Union Commission Chairperson N.D Zuma, in 2015, historical, and on that occasion, the Memorandum on Economic Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the AU Commission was signed.
Let me underline that with Nigeria, which we consider one of the leading African countries, we have traditionally good and friendly bilateral relations, without any outstanding issues. In this spirit, President Nikolic decorated the President of Nigeria Buhari with the Order of the Republic of Serbia with a ribbon for further development of friendly relations between the two countries, and its non-recognition of the self-proclaimed “Republic of Kosovo”.
Serbia is interested in exchanging visits on the high political level. On the fringes of the UN Security Council in February 2015, I had a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, whose visit we are looking forward to.
Serbia highly appreciates the positioning of Nigeria regarding non-recognition of “Kosovo”, and I take this opportunity to thank you for this support. We expect that Nigeria will continue to support our positions on Kosovo and Metohija, particularly in respect of their efforts to join the membership of international organizations, UNESCO in the first place.
We are interested in strengthening our economic cooperation, which used to be at an impressive level. Within the “World in Serbia” project, Nigerian students have been able to study in Serbia, 10 of whom have completed their education.
Of crucial interest for the progress and prosperity of the Republic of Serbia and the Western Balkans is to maintain peace, stability and security. This is the basic prerequisite for the development of political, economic and social relations in general. Thanks to its activities in recent years, Serbia is recognized internationally today as part of the solution, not the problem, and is therefore considered by international factors as an exporter of security and stability.
One of the strategic goals of Serbia is its full EU membership and, in this context, we support the European aspirations of our neighbours, and believe that the European process is the best way to overcome the issues from the past and have the whole region join the membership of the European family of states and peoples.
In terms of military and security, Serbia has committed itself to the policy of military neutrality and has no aspirations to become a member of NATO or any other military organization in the world. We believe that the existing cooperation through the Partnership for Peace programme, in which we have been participating since 2006, is a successful model of relations with NATO, which is in line with our interests and the common interests of preserving regional peace and stability. At the same time, Serbia respects the commitment of its neighbours with respect to their NATO membership, in order to promote peace and stability in the region.
Serbia has been developing intensive cooperation with other important partners across the world, primarily with the Russian Federation and China, in many areas, including military and security. The support of these countries in defending Serbian national interests in Kosovo and Metohija is of paramount importance to Serbia. The relations between Serbia and NATO were particularly burdened by the 1999 bombing, which caused numerous civilian casualties and destruction in our territory. On the other hand, Serbia recognizes the importance and role of NATO in the regional security system, and particularly in the protection of Serbian community in Kosovo and Metohija, with NATO being the guarantor of its security.
Kosovo and Metohija is the major security challenge for Serbia. We believe that a durable and sustainable solution can only be reached by political means, in accordance with international law. Serbia is committed to a status-neutral dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and to resolving, through dialogue, the issues of immediate interest to the people in the Province. In this regard, Serbia has been implementing what has been agreed in the Brussels Agreement, expecting Pristina to act likewise, which, unfortunately, has not been the case.
We support the KFOR activities in Kosovo and Metohija, defined under UNSC Resolution 1244. We expect undiminished presence of KFOR in the Province, as a guarantor of security and the implementation of the Brussels Agreement, since the current security situation is still fragile. Serbia finds absolutely unacceptable the aspirations of Pristina to initiate the process of transformation of the so-called Kosovo Security Force into armed forces, by amending and expanding its mandate.
To Serbia, the issue of growing radicalization and violent extremism in Kosovo and Metohija is one that raises particular concern, including the participation of Albanians from Kosovo and Metohija in foreign battlefields as terrorist fighters. The gravity of this problem is also reflected in the fact that, in terms of percentages relative to the entire population, Kosovo Albanians are the most numerous in the ranks of Daesh.
A particular potential danger for Serbia is the return of so-called foreign terrorist fighters who are currently in the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. They have additionally become religiously radicalized and continue to maintain contacts with terrorist cells, engage in propaganda activities in order to recruit new fighters and transfer them to battlefields, and pose a constant danger of carrying out direct terrorist activities in the territory of Serbia and the Western Balkans region.
Serbia believes that fight against terrorism and violent extremism can become successful by taking preventive action aimed at eliminating the causes of these phenomena, which include a wide range of activities on the sociological, economic, political and ideological level. Therefore, Serbia believes that the UN should be the main international forum for discussing and addressing the global terrorism phenomenon and, to that end, it has supported all the key resolutions and will continue to do so in the future as well. Serbia also supports the principles of the UN Global Strategy for Combating Terrorism, especially in the segment relating to measures for strengthening international cooperation, i.e. “pooling” of national, regional and international efforts.
Serbia attaches special attention to new global security challenges, such as energy and cyber security. It endeavors to create a sustainable energy system based on the diversification of energy supply channels. Aware of the rapid development and progress of information and communication technologies, Serbia endeavours to follow, as much as possible, global developments and trends in the establishment of national protection systems.
Finally, I would like to underline that we express our solidarity with the friendly Nigerian people, who are the subject of attacks by Boko Haram terrorist group. We fully support the Nigerian Government in its fight against terrorism, which has been – according to the most recent information- very successful.