Serbia – China strengthening friendship

Interview with Xinhya News Agency, Shi Zhongyi, Chief Correspondent from Belgrade

By Zivadin Jovanovic
Belgrade, March 27, 2020

How do you prospect the relationship between Serbia and China?

R: Serbia-China relations have long tradition of friendship, mutual respect and solidarity. Our traditional political, moral, humanistic, family and other values coincide and we trust each other, we never left each other regardless of difficulties. Serbia and China were victims in 1999 during the bombing of NATO. Today, exactly 21 years ago, NATO bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade killing three Chinese journalists. It happened so that only minutes after that tragic event I came to the location. I sow ruins of the building in flames, people from neighborhood, teams of firemen, doctors and other health emergency people helping out Embassy’s personnel from the ruins and debris.  I saw the then Chinese Ambassador Pan Zhanlyin helped by two gentlemen while walking out of clouds of smoke and sand dust – scene which I will never forget. Some foreign TV journalists there wanted my comment. I remember replying: “All here must help to save the people’s lives” – and I proceeded closer toward the ruins. Now, 21 years after, in this area magnificent Chinese Cultural Center has been built and soon will be open, address: Confucius Square No. 1, Belgrade.

Both Serbia and China adhere to the UN Charter principles, to the international law and to the democratic World order based on strict respect of sovereign equality, territorial integrity and non-interference.

Today Serbia and China are “the steel partners”, comprehensive, strategic partners connected by wide range of cooperation in trade, infrastructure, investments, green energy and industry, transfer of technology, innovation, tourism, science, culture, education, and people to people connectivity.

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Nowadays when Serbia and the world are in the midst of the fight with Corona 19 pandemic, the President Xi Jinping, the Government and the brotherly people of China, once again, have come with the great, precious and timely humanitarian assistance to Serbia and Serbian people. The health air bridge Belgrade-Beijing is continuously transporting to Belgrade respirators, tests, millions of masks and other medical necessities. Chinese doctors already weeks already, day and night, have been tirelessly working with Serbian doctors to protect people of the new corona virus. It is the most impressive to be watching on TV haw the people all around China have been collecting humanitarian assistance and sending it to Serbia with written messages of solidarity, understanding and friendship.

All this friendliness and solidarity which we are experiencing now from Chinese leadership and brotherly people of China is lasting heritage which will definitely reinforce our friendship and foster even stronger comprehensive strategic relationship. When it is difficult friends come first – says a proverb. China has come first to help Serbia and we will never forget this. Further strengthening of our friendliness and overall strategic cooperation is natural expectation and the firm will of our peoples and leaderships.

How do you foresee Serbia and the EU relations after the pandemic?

R. For some time now I have been thinking of the need to review Serbia-EU relations. First, because EU, under the influence of certain powers, has not been status neutral in the case of unilateral, illegal secession of the Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. Second, after Brexit, UE has entered a prolonged period of own internal crises without clear vision of the future, so far. COVID 19 pandemic, has unveiled some new internal weaknesses, divisions and preoccupations within EU. But the crucial problem is that the most of the EU member countries have recognized illegal, unilateral secession of the Serbian Province of Kosovo and Metohija, thus violating basic principles of UN Charter and Final OSCE Helsinki Document, as well as UN SC resolution 1244. Some EU member countries (Spain, Rumania, Slovak Republic, Greece and Cyprus) have not thus showing that EU lacks unity on this. Now some strongest member WU member countries put the pressure over Serbia to recognize illegal, unilateral secession in exchange for promising Serbia future EU membership. This, of course, is contrary to the international law and concrete decision of UN SC, therefore, baseless and unacceptable.

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EU is the main economic partner of Serbia. In my opinion Serbia will remain fully open for cooperation with EU in all the fields of mutual interest. We are neighbors and associated partners. Our cooperation, naturally, will have to be based on mutual interests, openness, noninterference and respect of Serbia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The future will show whether this framework will lead to Serbia’s full membership of EU, or not. I am, certainly not a believer of any mechanistic deal – territory for the (promises of) EU membership. Serbia needs EU as a true partner as much as EU needs Serbia as a true partner.