The Times Kuwait Report

Minister Counselor/Chargé d’ Affaires at the Serbian Embassy in Kuwait, Sanja Vidakovic, speaking in an exclusive interview with The Times Kuwait on the occasion of celebrating her country’s Statehood Day, highlighted and praised the deep and friendly ties that exist between Serbia and Kuwait.

She pointed out that the small Serbian community in Kuwait, mainly professionals including doctors, engineers, and sport coaches, are highly regarded in their professions and respect Kuwait laws. “They enjoy the well-known Kuwaiti hospitality, which reflects the deep roots and close long-lasting friendship between the two countries and people,” said the diplomat.

The Serbian diplomat took the opportunity to convey, on behalf of the Embassy of Serbia, sincere felicitations to the leadership and friendly people of Kuwait on the upcoming celebrations of Kuwait’s 61st anniversary of Independence and the 28th anniversary of Liberation. She also extended best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous future for Kuwait under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of the State of Kuwait.

Explaining the significance of Serbian Statehood Day that is celebrated each year on 15 February, Mrs. Vidakovic said the day commemorates the First Serbian Uprising in 1804, which evolved into the Serbian Revolution against Ottoman rule. The revolution ultimately resulted in the recognition of Serbian nationality by the Ottoman Empire (formally in 1817, de jure in 1835). On the same day in 1835, during the rule of Miloš Obrenović, the first modern Serbian constitution was adopted in the town of Kragujevac. This date was taken as the beginning of the creation of the modern Serbian state and has been celebrated as a national holiday since 2001.

Elaborating on the bilateral relations between the two countries, Mrs. Vidakovic said that her country is proud of the rich history of relationship with Kuwait, pointing out that the friendship of our peoples and countries, begun decades ago, way back in 1963. She reiterated the commitment of Serbia to strengthen and develop overall relations with Kuwait, especially in the field of economic cooperation, in order to return it to its former exceptional level. She stressed that Kuwait can count on the solidarity and support of Serbia in all activities carried out for the purpose of progress and development, especially when it comes to security, and regional and world peace.

She added that ehe recent visit to Serbia by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of State for the Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Nasser Al Muhammad in October 2021 and his meetings with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, the Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikola Selaković, laid down the road map for further strengthening excellent relations existing between the two friendly countries, especially in economic, commercial and investment fields.

She highlighted the importance of following up the implementation of the bilateral road map agreed upon, in order to turn it into reality, and based on the interest of citizens in both countries. “I look forward to more high-level meetings and exchange of visits between Kuwaiti and Serbian officials and experts as well as a meeting of the relevant Joint committee,” said the diplomat.

Mrs. Vidakovic pointed out that the meetings were held on the sideline of the high-level commemorative conference marking the 60th  Anniversary of the Non-Aligned movement that was held in Belgrade on 11 and 12 October, 2021, in cooperation with the Republic of Azerbaijan. The desire was to pay tribute to the first conference of the Non-Aligned in Belgrade, which was held in 1961, during the bloc divisions, and which gave great historical significance to the creation of a different vision of the world.

She added that during the commemorative conference, the president, prime minister and foreign minister of Serbia received separately representatives of 120 countries including Kuwait. Mrs. Vidakovic also added that the visit of Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Nasser Al Muhammad to Serbia was the first visit of that level from Kuwait since the breakup of Yugoslavia, before quickly clarifying the Serbian and Kuwaiti ministers of foreign affairs had also met earlier on the sideline of the 76th United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“Serbia, as the legal successor of Yugoslavia, and a founding member of the UN and the Non-Aligned Movement, is a proud promoter of the policy of multilateralism and respect for international legal norms. Belgrade, as a centuries-old symbol of a crossroad of cultures and religions, has always worked to encourage dialogue and build new bridges of cooperation with countries around the world,” said Mrs. Vidakovic.

On the subject of tourism to Serbia, the diplomat confirmed that since June 2015 Kuwaiti citizens are not required to obtain a visa to enter Serbia, as a way of strengthening the bond between the citizens in both countries.She also called for launching direct flights between Kuwait and Belgrade for further developing the commercial exchange and tourism, and to return to their status before the COVID-19 crisis.  Mrs. Vidakovic also took the opportunity and invited Kuwaiti citizens to visit Serbia where she said they can enjoy fantastic landmarks, good food and extraordinary Serbian hospitality which is well-known. It is worth mentioning that Novi Sad in Serbia gained the cultural title of ‘European Capital of Culture for 2022’ of the European Union.

Speaking about COVID-19 crisis, she praised the efforts exerted by Kuwait authorities in overcoming the crisis and pointed out that Kuwait managed to successfully vaccinate more than 80 percent of citizens and residents. The diplomat also highlighted the extraordinary efforts of the Serbian president and government in combating the coronavirus, noting that in the early stage of Corona crises, Serbia provided almost all different kinds of vaccines to all its citizens, and went as far as offering vaccinations to all foreign diplomats in Belgrade and opening the borders for the citizens of neighboring countries to get vaccinated for free. She also noted that despite the health crisis, Serbia achieved a high ranking among European countries in terms of economic growth that reached 6.5 percent.

A graduate of Oriental Studies at Belgrade University, Mrs. Vidakovic asserted that she has devoted her professional career to cooperation with Arab countries. Talking about her tenure as head of the diplomatic mission of her country to Tunisia from 2002 to 2005, deputy ambassador of the Embassy of Serbia to Cairo and her five year service at the Embassy of Serbia in Kuwait from 2011 to 2016, when she was deputy ambassador, she expressed happiness over the return to Kuwait. The Serbian diplomat is fluent in Arabic, and fond of Arab culture.

She concluded by inviting the Kuwaiti journalists to cover and observe closely the next Serbian presidential elections and early parliamentary elections scheduled for April 2022.

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