“The whole Balkan region has to co-operate together to be able to attract investors”, Boris Tadić, president of Serbia, said during in his address at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a London-based global security think tank. Mr Tadiić highlighted that there is growing co-operation between investors in the Balkans already and that he considers it to be the best way to build new relationships within the region.
While speaking at the IISS event, Mr Tadić revealed his surprising plan aimed at making regional animosities a thing of past. “After visiting the Olympic Stadium in London, we have a new idea: to organise Olympics together [with other former Yugoslavian republics]. We hosted games in the past, we can do it again,” claimed the Serbian president.
While such a bold idea may be some way away from being realised, it demonstrates a continued thawing of Serbia's attitude to its Balkan neighbours. And Serbia's ambitions lie beyond its bordering countries. “In addition to high levels of productivity and an efficient tax system, we are on two pan-Europan corridors, along the Danube river, and [on the route] linking Europe to Turkey and fast-growing markets of the Middle East and central Asia,” Bozidar Delić, Serbia's deputy prime minister, told fDi.
Mr Delić added that thanks to its location and trade agreements, Serbia can serve as economic facilitator for links between eastern and western Europe. “We have free-trade agreements with the EU, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey and the list of products that can be exported customs-free was recently expanded [to include] medicines and furniture,” Mr Delić said.
Serbia is still seeking membership of the EU and the World Trade Organisation. Its EU bid depends on the normalisation of its relations with Kosovo, and the fate of its WTO membership depends upon the country reaching a trade accord with Ukraine. Mr Delić stated that Serbia has a proactive approach in resolving both issues. “Kosovo, according to our constitution, is a part of Serbia, but we know that we have to find the solution and we have no interest in having a frozen conflict,” he said, adding that talks between Belgrade and Kiev also are progressing in the right direction.