Diplomacy&Commerce Magazin / #93 / March 2024

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08 MARCH 2024









Minister of External Affairs of India



Ambassador of Tunisia to Serbia



Assistant to the Minister for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue



Secretary for Culture of the City of Belgrade



Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to Serbia





Director robert.coban@color.rs


Editor in Chief dragan.nikolic@color.rs


Žikica Milošević

Nikola Gudelj

Mijat Kontić


DRAGAN VUČEVIĆ dragan.vucevic@color.rs

JELENA JAHURA jelena.jahura@color.rs


Goran Zlatković

Mladen Sekulić

Andjela Grozdanić

Viktor Lazić



Snežana Bjelotomić

Brana Vladisavljević


Studio Lončar


Robert Čoban

Viktor Lazić

Duška Jovanić

Ljiljana Vujić

Filip Kalmarević

Marija Vasić


Zlatna knjiga


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H.E. MRS. IMEN LAAJILI AMMARI Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Tunisia to Serbia


FEATURED INTERVIEW WOMEN ARE STRONG NINA MITIĆ Assistant to the Minister for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue



RADA DJURIĆ Journalist and TV presenter




Secretary for Culture of the City of Belgrade




KONSTANTIN MUKHANOV Russian Theater Director










The editors of Diplomacy&Commerce magazine apologize for a spelling error in two names that appeared in the article about the PC Press Awards in issue 92 of February 2024. We publish the correction below: The PC Press Top50 awards ceremony was opened by Vesna Čarknajev, director of PC Press.

The Digital Safety special award was awarded to Addiko Bank for the ‘Don’t Get Caught’ campaign, and the award was accepted by Vanesa Marčeta, senior specialist for corporate affairs.


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Jal Jeevan Mission

During the month of March, I was with a group of 22 journalists from Central and Eastern Europe as a guest of the Ministry of External Affairs of India. We visited a large number of state institutions, media, film studios, and tourist attractions.

One of the most interesting meetings we had in New Delhi was at the Ministry of Water (Ministry of Jal Shakti), where the hosts presented us with the impressive results of their Jal Jeevan Mission project (Mission: Water of Life), whose task is to provide every household in rural India with proper drinking water. In India, there are as many as 600,000 villages with a population of about one billion.

On the initiative of Prime Minister Modi, the project started on India’s Independence Day on August 15, 2019, and in less than five years, by March 13, 2024, from 16.79%, they reached as many as 75.12% of households that have proper drinking water. So far, 36.09 billion dollars have been spent on the project, and the total budget is 49.48.

Another important project of this ministry is the Swachh Bharat Mission (Mission to Change Habits) whose task is to get every household in rural India a toilet and to wean the population from the age-old habit of „open defecation”. In 2014, 60% of the world’s population „defecated in the open”. The project was launched in 2014 on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth.

A special problem in this habit was that women were „slaves of the night” because they had to defecate in the dark, to have discretion, so they were often victims of wild animals

as well as rapists and murderers. As part of the project, 100 million toilets were built in 5 years from 39% in 2014 to 100% coverage in 2019.

Indian Prime Minister Modi is often accused of populism. There are a lot of populists in today’s Europe as well, but I don’t know of a case of such a thorough transformation of the country and the habits of the population as is the case with these two projects. At the same time, the financing of both projects is mostly from the funds of the country itself, without EU Funds, the help of UN agencies, various foundations and similar organizations that are an indispensable part of similar undertakings in Europe, especially in its eastern part to which we belong.

For example, the Project „Castles of Serbia: Protection of Cultural Heritage” after three years is still in place despite my great personal friend and media promotion, after a dozen forums were held on the subject from the Cultural Center of Serbia in Paris to the Residence of Princess Ljubica in Belgrade, after we gathered all the data and photos and put them on the website www.dvorcisrbije.rs.

There is simply no interest and desire of the key decision makers in the country to move things from a standstill in that field.

Working to change society and the habits of the population, even if they win (or lose) elections because of it, is the highest mission that someone engaged in public work should spend their time and energy on.

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A Century of Friendship

We have the responsibility to let future generations from both countries know how close our relationship is and how important it is to preserve it

n a conversation with the recently appointed Tunisian ambassador to Serbia, H.E. Mrs. Imen Laajili Ammari, we touched on the friendship between our two nations that has lasted over 100 years and all the possibilities for further development of bilateral cooperation, which is already at an amazing level.

Could you share your insights on the current state of Tunisia-Serbia relations, and what potential areas do you see for strengthening these ties in the near future?

Allow me first to express my great satisfaction regarding the excellent relations between our two countries. The Republic of Tunisia and the Republic of Serbia have traditionally good and historical ties dating back more than 100 years when 52.000 Serbian soldiers and civilians injured in World War I were moved to Tunisia to receive medical care. Today, there are 3700 Serbian graves in Tunisia’s cemeteries (Bizerte, Menzel Bourguiba, and Tunis), a symbol of the privi-

leged relationship between the two countries, which had been reinforced during the period of former Yugoslavia, thanks to the friendship between Presidents Habib Bourguiba and Josip Broz Tito and their leadership in the non-aligned movement.

During the last five years, we had an exchange of visits between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs in December 2017 in Belgrade and then in March 2019 in Tunis. That was an occasion to discuss how to rein-

bind the ties between Tunisia and Serbia and to give an impetus to our economic relations. There is great potential in the economy, education, technology, culture, and other fields, such as military and security cooperation.

We are proud of our historical and excellent relations of friendship with the Republic of Serbia. We have always supported each other in all matters, whether on the bilateral level or on the multilateral one. Our relationship is


force the legal framework between our two countries. We are now working together at the experts’ level to finalize several draft agreements, especially in the economic and commercial fields. We expect an exchange of visits on a high level between both countries, and we are working closely to further

distinguished by a convergence of views on the main issues and a willingness to coordinate positions in international fora. As two countries that are committed to respecting international law and legality, we can contribute together to the promotion of peace in the world.

Are there any specific initiatives or programs you plan to introduce to promote cultural exchange and understanding between Tunisia and Serbia?

First of all, I’m very happy to announce the record number of Serbian tourists who visited Tunisia in 2023: more than 33,000 tourists. This is the most important step in exchanging culture and reinforcing ties between our two friendly peoples.

The rapprochement between peoples also occurs through a mutual understanding of each country’s specificities and traditions. In this spirit, I intend to attach particular importance to promoting relations between the Tunisian regions and their Serbian counterparts through the strengthening of decentralized cooperation and the conclusion of twinning agreements between cities and municipalities.

We will also continue to support Serbian musical groups’ participation in Tunisian festivals and en-

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courage Tunisians’ presence in all cultural events organized in Serbia.

Although my mission in Serbia started only a few months ago, I have already met with Serbian partners and prospected with them many cultural projects that can contribute to reinforcing exchange and friendship between our two peoples. We have the responsibility to let future generations from both countries know how close our relationship is and how important it is to preserve it.

What are the key sectors where you see opportunities for increased economic and trade cooperation between our two nations, and how do you plan to facilitate this growth?

Both countries have great and strong potential to develop economic and trade cooperation, which, for the moment, does not really reflect the quality of our political relations.

From our side, agri-food (mainly dates and olive oil), phosphate and its derivatives, tourism, and mechanical, electrical, and automotive components could be the main sectors of our economic and trade cooperation.

I strongly believe that the first step to facilitate the growth of commercial cooperation is to start by strengthening the legal framework, in particular, through the conclusion of the cooperation agreement on free trade, which is currently being examined by the Serbian side.

Furthermore, promoting the participation of Tunisians and Serbians in fairs and economic exhibitions in the two countries, the organization of bilateral economic days, and the establishment of contact between businessmen through B2B meetings would be good opportunities to facilitate the development of economic and commercial cooperation between the two countries.

It is important to mention that we have a Tunisian foreign investment in Serbia through the Tunisian company COFICAB, which is a member of the Elloumi Group. COFICAB is a world leader in the design, manufacture, and sale of electrical wires and cables for the automotive industry. The company started operating in Serbia in 2016, and today, more than 300 employ-

ees work in its different departments.

Tunisia and Serbia have good legal frameworks and many incentives for foreign investments. It is now our duty to encourage economic operators to explore the opportunities in both countries.

This is without forgetting the role that Tunisian companies can play in facilitating access for Serbian companies to the African markets. Tripartite cooperation could be developed for this purpose.

How do you envision Tunisia and Serbia collaborating in the fields of technology and education to foster mutual development?

The enrichment of the legal framework and the establishment of an annual program in the field of High education, in particular, the information technology, would allow an exchange of experts and students. For this purpose, a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of information and

communication technologies and digital economy between the two countries is ready to be signed.

Also, Serbia is offering scholarships for African students, which could be an opportunity to enhance cooperation in the education field.

It should be noted that Tunisia is renowned for the good quality of its education and its training of qualified engineers, particularly in the IT field. This is a point in common with Serbia, which also offers know-how and a qualified workforce in this field. An exchange of expertise, particularly in the creation of start-ups, would be an opportunity to strengthen cooperation in this area.

What do you perceive as the primary challenges in your role as the Ambassador to Serbia, and what strategies do you intend to employ to overcome them?

As Ambassador, I would not perceive my mission as challenges to overcome but rather as opportu-


nities to take and goals to achieve for the good of our two peoples and countries. I feel lucky and happy to serve in a friendly country that respects diplomatic work as well as the two Vienna Conventions, which facilitate the mission of any Ambassador accredited to Serbia.

Since my arrival in Belgrade, I have received a warm welcome from all the Serbian officials I have met, who have expressed their support and determination to facilitate my noble mission in Serbia. I take this opportunity to thank all of them for their support.

I already feel at home, and I strongly believe that our historical and excellent political relations are a solid basis for further developing and enhancing the cooperation between our two countries.

What are your personal goals and vision for your tenure in Serbia, and how do you plan to achieve them?

An ambassador has no personal objectives; my main role is to ensure that my country’s foreign policy is implemented as defined by H.E., the President of the Republic of Tunisia. I must protect Tunisian nationals and defend my country’s interests.

To this end, I have set objectives and defined an action plan in order to achieve them.

I am determined to preserve the traditional bilateral relations between the Republic of Tunisia and the Republic of Serbia. I will work with the Serbian authorities on the conclusion of the draft agreement on free trade between the two countries, which is a priority if we really aim to develop our economic relations. Particular interest will also be given to the promotion of cultural relations.

On the other hand, I am happy that the new Ambassador of Serbia to Tunisia, Mrs. Dijana Ivancic, recently presented her credential letters to H.E. Mr. Kais Saied, President of the Republic of Tunisia. This will contribute to the reinforcement of the relations of cooperation and friendship between the two countries since we are both highly committed to working closely in the same direction to promote them.


Leaving No One Behind

Women and girls make up about half of the world’s total population and have a huge potential on which the world rests

At the Women’s CEO Summit conference organized by Color Media Communications, held on March 14, 2024, at the Madlena Art Palace in Belgrade, we had the opportunity to speak with Nina Mitić, Assistant Minister for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue.

No matter how systematically we fight and advocate for better gender equality, some members of society will always oppose it and this phenomenon is not unique to our society. What did the ministry you work for manage to do in that regard in the past period?

The line ministry is responsible for the work of the Department for Anti-Discrimination Policy and Promotion of Gender Equality. Since the Department’s inception, we have prepared several legal, by-law and strategic documents regulating the improvement of human rights. I am primarily referring to the Law on Gender Equality and Amendments to the

Law on Prohibition of Discrimination. Also, I would like to underline that during the previous period, the Serbian government, i.e. the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Agriculture, implemented a series of incentive measures for the development of female entrepreneurship, as well as facilitated the purchase of apartments for single mothers with children, the registration of rural farms and property for women living in rural areas, etc. Another important point is that the state authorities have been continuously working on improving the position of vulnerable social groups while adhering to the #Leaving No One Behind# principle.

How many obstacles did you encounter during your work when

solving this important issue and do you think that in Serbia there is a social agreement regarding gender equality or are there still many obstacles to overcome?

If your work is exposed to the public and you often express views or deal with topics that do not follow the majority’s opinion, this is often a huge challenge for all of us. When we add to that the fact that a woman is doing this work, all the gender-based stereotypes and prejudices that are otherwise present are amplified, including public condemnations and exposure to hate speech. It’s a huge pressure, even though due to the nature of her job, it’s not acceptable for a woman to show this publicly. So everything, unfortunately, comes down to a person-


al struggle, which must go hand in hand with systemic changes. What I can and want to say to all women is to never give up their dreams and continue fighting, because only together can we democratically „destroy” stereotypes, prejudices and fears that come from women being equal to men.

What is the position of women in the world and Serbia like today?

We are all aware that the conditions in the world are changing on a global level, which, as they affect all of humanity, also affect the position of women. A new report by the World Economic Forum estimates that women won’t be treated equal to men for another 131 years and the global trend of improving the position of women has, according to all reports, slowed down. Unfortunately, this trend did not bypass the Republic of Serbia, which according to the 2021 World Economic Forum’s report on gender equality, dropped from 19th to 23rd place.

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It is ranked best when it comes to the participation of women in political life, where it ranks 21st. However, if we look at women’s involvement in economic life and the economic opportunities they have, our country dropped from 54th to 77th place in the world. While progress has been noted in women’s access to education, in that respect Serbia ranks 37th place, in healthcare provisions and life expectancy, it ranks 71st in the world.

Is there something that Serbia could be proud of and something that sets us apart from other European countries in a positive sense?

Considering the topic of the conference in which I am participating, I would especially like to point out a positive example. According to the EU-27 Index, which includes the Western Balkan countries, Serbia is ranked second in terms of the number of women on company boards of directors and first in terms of the share of women among company managers.

How about negative and unfavourable things? Have you identified the key problems of gender equality in our country?

According to the 2024 report of the State Statistics Office, only 13.3% of women are presidents of municipalities or city mayors and 37% of women are councillors in the assemblies of municipalities and cities. The data further show that men in Serbia work almost twice as much as women on paid jobs, both on weekdays and weekends, while on the other hand, women do unpaid work at home and farms longer than men on weekdays and weekends. To mitigate the consequences and monitor that gap, the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue adopted the Rulebook on the Methodology for the Calculation of Unpaid Domestic Work, which came into force on March 15, 2024. I would like to also note that Serbia is the first country in the world to have this rulebook, and the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue will continue to be committed to improving the rights of women and men who are in the same or a similar position in the coming period. Also,

I would like to mention that according to the summary 2022 Report on the gender equality achievements in the Republic of Serbia, written by our Ministry, the gender pay gap was 14.4% in favour of men.

What is the message of gender equality and why is it important for every society?

Gender equality should be a way of life and work in all areas of social development, especially in the areas highlighted in the Law on Gender Equality. We should be especially mindful of this when appointing persons to the highest government positions, in autonomous provinces and locally, but also when it comes to appointing directors in public companies or members of

supervisory and managing boards which have very few female members. The gender perspective should be taken into account especially when it comes to the best-


paid positions in society because we need to reduce the gender pay gap.

Efforts to achieve gender equality in all areas are extremely important, given that women and girls make up about half of the world’s total population and have a huge potential on which the world rests.

I’ll quote GD Anderson: „Feminism isn’t about making women stronger; women are already strong. It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength”.

Although we have left this question for last, we consider it perhaps the most important in your field of work. How can we deal with the terrible phenomenon of femicide, which, unfortunately, has gained a lot of momentum in our country? Since the beginning of this year alone, there have been four cases of femicide. How can we fight against it?

As members of the Operational Team of the Council for Suppression of Domestic Violence of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue initiated the collection of femicide-related data and their publication by the Interior Ministry at a meeting held in 2023, because homicide detectives have the possibility of keeping such records. As the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence applies only to family relationships and the Criminal Code does not cover the criminal offence that is femicide, our ministry pointed out on the occasion that Serbia passed the Law on the Ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the so-called Istanbul Convention), which, among other things, obliges the signatory states to implement the necessary legislative or other measures to promote and protect the right of every person, especially women, to live free from violence in both the public and private spheres.

The Ministry for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue believes that it is necessary to improve the legal framework, make sentences stricter and expedite the administrative procedure in cases of gender-based violence, and to this end, will advocate that femicide be introduced as a separate criminal offence in The Criminal Code, in addition to forming a public register of abusers, which would include paedophiles, rapists and other sex offenders.


The Eurovision Song Contest –the funniest parade of all

The ESC is not a joke, and we in this area know it only too well – the local contest in 2006 announced the break-up of Serbia and Montenegro, while some winners were so “political” that the whole “non-political” nature of the competition was under question, like Toto Cutugno 1990 win with “Unite Europe”, or “1944” from Jamala or even more evident in 2022 with “Stefania” by Kalush Orchestra, although they were all great songs and big hits.

And now, as Russia and Belarus are kicked out, the “political” part is concentrated on Israel, so the

debates and verbal clashes never end – why does a clearly nonEuropean country participate and so on (and Australia is a European country?). But if we take a look at the history, we can find many peculiar details, like – once Morocco participated (1980), and Tunisia and Lebanon intended to participate, by withdrew their entries. Why is that? Well, the European Broadcasting Area covers all of these countries, along with Jordan, Egypt, and Libya, which were all eligible to participate! Lebanon wanted to participate in 2005 but wanted

to broadcast everything except the Israeli song, and since it was prohibited by rules, they withdrew (Lebanese legislation prohibited the broadcast of Israeli content on Lebanese television networks, so they could not guarantee the full broadcast).

It is widely believed that the Tunisian entry and withdrawal in 1977 were connected to the same problem. Ireland and Sweden won 7 times each, France, the UK, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were 5-times winners, Israel won 4 times, Ukraine, Norway, Denmark and Italy 3 times, and Serbia won twice, once with other 5 republics as Yugoslavia in 1989 (the Croatian band Riva – though some observers also have a theory that it was a signal to Yugoslavia not to fall apart and break up), and the second time as Serbia, in 2007, with Marija Šerifović. In the meantime, Serbia almost won once under a different name, in union with Montenegro when Željko Joksimović came second after the iconic Ruslana performance in 2004. All in all 27 countries won the ESC, and this year the greatest favourite for winning is – Croatia, which would be the first win for our neighbours as an independent country, and the second overall win.

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INTERESTING FACTS APRIL 2024 NATIONAL DAYS GUINEA Independence Day 03 SENEGAL Independence Day 04 SYRIA Evacuation Day 17 ZIMBABWE Independence Day 18 THE NETHERLANDS King’s Day SOUTH AFRICA Freedom Day SIERRA LEONE Independence Day TOGO Independence Day 27 27 27 27
© rarrarorro / Shutterstock.com
Potpis © AlanMorris / Shutterstock.com


New Ambassador of Spain to Serbia


New Ambassador of Portugal to Serbia

H.E. Mr Jose Velez Caroco has been appointed the new Portugal Ambassador to Serbia. As stated in the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), during the courtesy call it was noted that the both parties agreed that bilateral relations between the two countries were good and friendly and that there was room and mutual readiness to promote them further. H.E. Mr Jose Velez Caroco was born in Lisbon in 1968. He graduated law at the Lisbon’s Universidade Catolica Portugesa. From 1997 till today he served at the Embassy of Portugal in Pretoria (1997-2001), then at the Portuguese Representation to the European Union in Brussels (2001-2005). He was Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Portugal to Brazil (2009-2013) and he served as General Consul of Portugal in Boston, USA (2013-2018). He held the post of Executive Director of the North South Centre of the council of Europe (2018-2020).

H. E. Mr Juan Jose Sans Aparicio is the newly appointed Ambassador of Spain to Serbia. He was born in Seville in 1965. He graduated in law. He began his diplomatic career in 1995. He was Chief of Ceremonies in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then Deputy Head of Mission in Harare between 1998 and 2002, Consul General of Spain in Agadir between 2002 and 2004, and Cultural Attaché at the Spanish Embassy. in Stockholm in the period from 2004 to 2007. He served as Deputy Director General of the Directorate for Justice and Home Affairs of the EU (2007-2008) and the Office for Gibraltar Affairs (2008-2011). After five years spent in Frankfurt as Consul General of Spain (2011-2016), he was appointed to the position of Deputy Ambassador in Prague, where he stayed from 2016 to 2020.

From August 2020, until his appointment as Ambassador of Spain in Belgrade, he served as a special envoy of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation in the Campo de Gibraltar area.



New Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to Serbia

H.E. Mr Michal Pavuk has been appointed the new Slovak Ambassador to Serbia. He served at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Ankara as Head of Consular, Cultural and Public Diplomacy Division (2001-2005). He was Acting Deputy Director for the Balkans and East European Countries (2006), as well as Head of Political Section at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Washington, DC (2009-2011). He worked at the Western Balkans Division at the European External Action service (2012-2016) after which he became the Team Leader at the US / Canada Division (2016 to 2021). At the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic he was Director of EU Policy Department and the Political Director until he became the appointed Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the Republic of Serbia.

H.E. MR MOHAMMED HAJ IBRAHIM New Ambassador of Syria to Serbia

H.E. Mr Mohammed Haj Ibrahim is the new Syrian Ambassador to Serbia. He served as Ambassador of the Syrian Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia (2017-2022). Afterwards he was appointed as the Director of Legal Affairs and Director of the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2022. As stated in the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), during the reception they noted that Serbia and Syria were bound by traditional and sincere friendship based on mutual understanding and solidarity and that there was mutual readiness to strengthen the cooperation further in areas of common interest.


What have you been doing since you left Belgrade?

Thank you for your question. Now that I am thinking about your question, I am realising that about five months have passed since the time that I concluded my mission in Belgrade. Time travels fast. This period of time has not been as calm and uneventful as I would have envisioned before the time of the beginning of my retirement. During these weeks and months, along with my wife Aferdita, we have attempted to tackle at once some obligations, such as filling out the required documentation that is needed for retirement. I had the opportunity to acknowledge that in my country, there is a very useful system called e-Albania, which is a new way that enables all to fill out the required documentation online, where everything works without a hitch.

Another engagement was improving the structure of the apartment in Tirana, which required a lot of work, patience, and certainly money to deal with various contractors that we hired for different issues.

During these first months of retirement, we made time to meet relatives, friends, and acquaintances. These past months, my wife and I accomplished one of our most important goals, which is being full-time grandparents, by crossing the ocean to live and enjoy the privilege of being grandparents. We celebrated Christmas and New Year’s with our two sons and their families, particularly with Roi, Arla, and baby Klea, in Arlington, Virginia, of the US, where they live. We have spent time with the children like never before; we have visited cultural and historical sites, and we have met old friends with whom we have shared interesting experiences, including the diplomatic community in Serbia.

We had to move and walk a lot, but this time not with a driver and a diplomatic car, and the first result of this has been some very welcomed weight loss.

A Desire to Return

Ambassador of Albania to Serbia

Former Ambassador of Albania to Serbia, H.E. Mr. Ilir Bocka, and his wife, Aferdita, left Belgrade recently, but they never forget how wonderful time they spent in our capital. This couple participated in many Belgrade diplomatic and cultural events and was recognized as a very important part of Belgrade’s social life, and they miss us already.

What (and who) do you miss the most from Serbia?

This is an interesting question. I have not had the opportunity yet to ask myself this question because I really have not had the time to meditate on this, but since you are asking now, I can tell you that without a doubt, from Serbia and the diplomatic life, there are some things that I miss, and with time passing I realize that these things have been important parts of our lives. I miss, to some extent, the daily pace of the work day of a diplomat, the feeling of responsibility and curiosity to follow closely the political and diplomatic activity. But, instead, I am getting accustomed to this new lifestyle without work projects,

meetings, and diplomatic events. I must admit that I also miss some daily simple things, such as coffee meetings with colleagues at Coffee Dream Cafe in Dedinje, next to our embassy, and also the long walks in the parks of Belgrade, along Ada Ciganlija, and promenades along the Danube and Sava rivers.

Last but not least, I miss all of our diplomatic friends and also our friends from Serbia with whom we have had interesting times. We certainly also miss our friends from Diplomacy&Commerce, who, during our stay in Serbia, have given us the opportunity to get to know better the country and the people in many of the trips that they have organized in different parts of Serbia, such as in Sremska Mitrovica with the Blue Train, Kikinda, Niš, Zlatibor, etc.

We left Belgrade upon concluding the diplomatic mission, carrying a mountain of memories and experiences, which we have plenty of time now to archive and value.

We have returned home with a feeling of a job well done. Relations between our two countries have improved in every way.

In the future, we will certainly desire to return to Belgrade, but this time as tourists, to meet and visit our old friends and to walk the streets in which we have spent an important period of our diplomatic lives.

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„We believe that war is not the solution to any conflict and that this war will not be resolved on the battlefield but that there will have to be a negotiation. We respect the positions of Ukraine and the EU, but we also expect others to understand that India’s position is different!”

As soon as he entered the room, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar (69), the Minister of External Affairs of the world’s most populous country, gave the impression of a serious diplomat and politician. He is a member of the ruling BJP party and has held this position since 2019.

He previously served as the Foreign Secretary from January 2015 to January 2018. Jaishankar became the second-ever diplomat to be appointed India’s Minister of External Affairs, after Natwar Singh. He joined the Indian Foreign Service (IFS) in 1977. During his diplomatic career spanning over 38 years, he served in different capacities in India and abroad, including as High Commissioner to Singapore (2007–2009) and as Ambassador to the Czech Republic (2001–2004), China (2009–2013) and the US (2014–2015). Jaishankar played a key role in negotiating the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement. On retirement, Jaishankar joined Tata Sons as the President of Global Corporate Affairs. In 2019, he was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour. On May 30, 2019, he was sworn in as the Cabinet Minister in the second Modi ministry. He was appointed the Minister of External Affairs on May 31, 2019. He is the first former Foreign Secretary to head the Ministry of External Affairs as the Cabinet Minister.

He patiently and very skillfully answered numerous questions from colleagues from Eastern Europe, which were mainly about Russia and the fact that India has not imposed sanctions on this country. „To begin with – we believe that war is not the solution to any conflict and that this war will not


Minister of External Affairs of India

Friend of the World

The idea of our foreign policy is to be a „Friend of the World”, which, unfortunately, is not always possible

be resolved on the battlefield, but that there will have to be a negotiation. We respect the positions of Ukraine and the EU, but we also expect others to understand that India’s position is different. Since 1955, India and Russia (then USSR) have had good relations. We want to maintain good relations with Russia and we do not want China to be its only big friend in Asia. Of course, this does not mean that we agree with Russia on everything, but we are trying, just like the other


Visit of Editors and Journalists from Central European Countries

From March 13 to 20, 22 journalists and editors from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe were on a visit in India – from Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the north, through Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, to Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Albania and Cyprus in the south. The visit was organised by the Ministry of External Affairs and during this time the guests had the opportunity to visit Agra and Hyderabad in addition to New Delhi.

side, to invest in our relations!”, the minister said.

He also referred to the recent case of „trafficking” of people from India who ended up as Russian soldiers on the battlefield in Ukraine: „Some of them didn’t know at all that they were going to Russia, while some others knew but thought they were going to do some other work! These cases are something that we are seriously investigating and that must not be repeated!”

try is great and the behaviour is often problematic – it is something you will definitely pay attention to!”

India wants to be a „Friend of the World” and it conducts such diplomacy, but this is not always possible, especially with some of its neighbours. Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also spoke about the upcoming general elections that will be held this spring. „Currently, 940 million people have the right to vote, and the average


The minister was somewhat less „gentle” towards China, with which India has a disputed border in numerous places where, during the pandemic of 2020, a conflict broke out in which 20 Indian soldiers died while the number of victims on the other side was never reported: „With neighbouring countries, two matters are important – their strength and their behaviour. If the behaviour is problematic and the strength is small, it’s not a problem. But since the strength of this coun-

turnout is 70%!”. Due to such high number of voters and the turnout, the elections will last as long as 4-5 weeks.

He also referred to the 2023 report on the state of media freedom in the world published by Reporters Without Borders: „On that list, Afghanistan (152) is ahead of India (161). I have nothing else to add. Those who prepared the report either had not visited Afghanistan or they had not visited India...”

IN TALKS WITH by Robert Čoban

08 FEBRUARY 2024

From Atlantic to Gulf –A Spotlight on Arab Culture

The Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco in the Republic of Serbia organised a conference on Moroccan culture on Wednesday, February 7th, as part of a series of discussions on the cultures of Arab countries, entitled “From Atlantic to Gulf” in the Youth Center of Belgrade, in the “Amerikana” hall. Participants: Ambassador of the Kingdom of Moroc-



Enchanting Evening – Tunisia’s Tourism Sparkles at Belgrade Gala

The Embassy of Tunisia in Belgrade, with the support of the Tunisian National Tourism Office in Vienna, participated in the 45th edition of the International Tourism Fair in Belgrade from February 22 to 25, 2024. This fair, which is the largest in South Eastern Europe, highlights recent trends and events in the international tourism industry.

The Tunisian booth, hosted by a musician and a craftsman, experienced a large attendance from the Serbian public and the diplomatic community accredited in Belgrade. It was visited, in particular, by Arab and African Ambassadors accredited to Belgrade, the Director of the Belgrade Fair, the President of the Serbian National Association of Travel Agencies (YUTA), a Serbian folk group, and Miss Tourism Serbia 2023.

This Fair provided the opportunity for Tunisian professionals to hold several fruitful discussions with their Serbian counterparts, auguring a promising 2024 tourist season for Tunisia as a destination.

As a sign of support to tourism professionals, Ambassador Ms. Imen LAAJILI AMMARI attended the opening of the workshops organized by the main TOs working on Tunisia as a destination.

She also offered a cocktail dinner, on February 23, 2024, at the Residence of Tunisia in Belgrade, in honor of the Tunisian delegation, composed in particular of representatives of the tourism sector and hotels in Tunisia, to which were also invited the heads of the main TOs and local tourist agencies, the Honorary Consul of Tunisia in Novi Sad and representatives of the Serbian media.

co, His Excellency Mr. Mohammed Amine Belhaj, and Asst. Dr. Marko Gagić, Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade. Moderated by: Miljana Šurlan Vićentić, Arabic Cultural Center. The topic of the opening forum of the new cycle, entitled “ARAB STATES AND PEOPLE”, is an overview of the modern Arab world, culture in modern Arab states, art, life, contemporary thinking, and trends in society. His Excellency the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, Mohammed Amine Belhaj, spoke about contemporary life in his country and the relations of Arab nations and countries with Serbia.

08 MARCH 2024

Insights into Egypt at the Arab Cultural Center Seminar in Belgrade

The “Amerikana” hall of the Youth Center of Belgrade was the setting for a captivating lecture on Egypt, part of the “Arab Countries and Peoples” seminar hosted on Wednesday, March 6th. The event, moderated by Bojan Vićentić from the Arabic Cultural Center, featured the esteemed Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Mr. Bassel Salah, alongside Professor Dr. Danijela Stefanović from the Faculty of Philosophy. Under the theme “Egypt is the Gift of the Nile,” the lecture offered a concise yet profound overview of Egypt’s journey from its ancient civilization roots to its current stature as a pivotal Arab nation. The dialogue highlighted the Nile’s indispensable role in Egypt’s development, emphasizing its impact on the country’s cultural, economic, and social fabric. This engaging session underscored the importance of cultural diplomacy and education in fostering understanding between different cultures. Attendees left with a deeper appreciation of Egypt’s historical and contemporary significance, thanks to the insights provided by Ambassador Salah, Professor Stefanović, and the skillful moderation by Vićentić. The seminar not only enriched the participants’ knowledge but also highlighted the Arab Cultural Center’s commitment to promoting cultural dialogue and exchange.

14 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs DIPLOMATIC EVENTS

23 FEBRUARY 2024

Reception on the Occasion of the Birthday of the Japanese Emperor

The Embassy of Japan in Belgrade hosted a formal reception on the occasion of the birthday of the Japanese Emperor Naruhito, the 126th emperor of the country. The reception was attended, among others, by Prime Minister Ana Branabić, Minister of Internal and Foreign Trade Tomislav Momirović, Ministers without Portfolio Edin Djerlek and Novica Tončev, as well as and other officials and members of the diplomatic corps. Japan’s Emperor Naruhito, who turned 63, was crowned on May 1, 2019, after his father Akihito abdicated. The Ambassador of Japan to Serbia, H. E. Katsumata Takahika, greeted those present and thanked the Government and the people of our country for their long-standing friendship. The Japanese ambassador recalled the late Prime Minister Abe’s visit to Serbia and his meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and added that relations between Serbia and Japan are entering a new era of bilateral, regional, and international cooperation. He added that he is proud of the projects and investments in Serbia in many areas and said that the common goal of these projects is the promotion of sustainability and the development of human resources. “Today, I am most sincerely grateful for the support of more than 20 companies that exhibit exhibits of some of those high-quality products and projects in front of the entrance of this hall,” he said.

26 FEBRUARY 2024

The People of Novi Sad Supported the Israeli-Serbian Pianist Kidnapped by Hamas

Citizens of Novi Sad today attended the opening of the three-day event “Alon’s Yellow Piano” in the BIG shopping center, in support of the young Israeli-Serbian pianist Alon Ohel, who was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists at the Nova music festival in Israel on October 7, 2023. The assembled citizens

were greeted by the ambassador of Israel, H. E. Yahel Vilan and expressed his gratitude on behalf of the State of Israel, as well as the family of Alon Ohel and all the innocent civilians still imprisoned in the Gaza tunnels. “I am deeply moved that we are here today to tell Alon and all the hostages in Gaza that they are not alone. Let’s use the melody of the piano to draw attention to the suffering of 134 innocent civilians and their families and call for their immediate and unconditional release,” said Ambassador Vilan. “Today, we join the initiative of Alon’s family, who designed this musical installation and placed the piano in a public space in numerous cities around the world. I would like to emphasize that Novi Sad has a special symbolism since the Ohel family originates from this wonderful city,” added the Israeli ambassador. Alon’s mother Idit Ohel sent an emotional video message in which she expressed her hope that the music of the yellow piano will reach Alon and all the abductees, comfort them and give them the strength to endure. Students of the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, students of the “Isidor Bajić” Music School, members of the Jewish Municipality of Novi Sad, as well as numerous gathered citizens played on “Alon’s Yellow Piano”. “Alon’s yellow piano” will be available for mall visitors to play on Friday, February 23 until 9 p.m., as well as on Saturday, February 24 and Sunday, February 25, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., in front of the H&M store.


28 FEBRUARY 2024

Kuwaiti Independence Gala Sparkles in Belgrade

Marking the dual occasion of the 62nd anniversary of Statehood and the 32nd anniversary of Liberation, the Embassy of Kuwait in Serbia hosted a celebratory reception at the Hyatt Hotel in Belgrade. The event was presided over by the Kuwaiti Ambassador to Serbia, H.E. Fayez Mujbel Sulaiman Almutairi, and saw the attendance of a distinguished

07 MARCH 2024

Italy’s Embassy in Serbia Marks 100 Years with Grand Event

The Italian Embassy in Serbia, led by the Ambassador of Italy to Serbia, H.E. Luca Gori, and Mrs. Eugenia Gresta, celebrated the centennial of its establishment with a vibrant event titled “Bircaninova@100” on March 6th. This milestone marks 100 years since Queen Elena of Montenegro laid the embassy’s foundation stone in 1924. Held at Bircaninova Ulica 9/a, the evening featured an eclectic mix of music, theater, and storytelling, paying homage to the historical and cultural legacy of the embassy building in Belgrade. The event not only underscored the strong ties between Italy and Serbia but also kicked off a year-long celebration dedicated to this century-long relationship. The festivities concluded with a cocktail reception, offering a surprise tribute to Queen Elena and the enduring friendship between the two nations. “Bircaninova@100” sets the tone for a series of events throughout the year, aiming to foster and celebrate the deep-rooted connections between Italy and Serbia.

assembly including Serbian government ministers, state and military officials, representatives from various religious communities, and notable figures from the realms of politics, culture, and the diplomatic corps. The gathering was an opportunity to highlight the enduring and evolving relationship between Serbia and Kuwait, focusing on the ongoing development of their comprehensive bilateral cooperation. The reception not only commemorated Kuwait’s historic achievement of independence from Great Britain in 1961, becoming the first Persian Gulf state to do so, but it also served as a testament to the importance of international relations and cooperation. The event underscored the shared interests and mutual respect between the two nations, aiming to further strengthen their diplomatic ties and collaborative efforts in various sectors.

29 FEBRUARY 2024

Finnish Kalevala Day in Belgrade –A Tribute to National Epic’s Cultural Legacy

The Embassy of Finland in Belgrade, together with the Serbian-Finnish Association “SEURA”, celebrated the Kalevala Day on February 28, 2024 at UK Parobrad in Belgrade. The evening dedicated to “Kalevala”, the Finnish national epic, was opened by Mr. Niklas Lindqvist, Ambassador of Finland to Serbia, who on this occasion emphasized: The significance of “Kalevala” goes beyond its literary merit. It is a source of national pride and a testament to the enduring strength of the Finnish identity. The characters and stories within its verses have become an integral part of the Finnish culture, influencing art, music and literature for generations. Thanks to the pro-

gram, which was prepared by the members of the Serbian-Finnish Association “SEURA”, we learned something more about Elias Lönnrot – who compiled the “Kalevala”, after travelling hundreds of kilometers collecting folk songs and poetry. The language in “Kalevala” was the inspiration for the language of the elves in “The Lord of the Rings”, but differs from the modern Finnish language. The audience had the opportunity to hear the songs from “Kalevala” performed by the Choir “Seura”, as well as to learn more about the importance of the kantele, a traditional Finnish string instrument, which is the Finnish national instrument.

16 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs

09 MARCH 2024

Celebrating Women – IWC’s Prestigious International Women’s Day Event

In a commendable celebration of International Women’s Day, the International Women’s Club (IWC) held a distinguished event at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on March 8th. The ceremony commenced with a warm introduction by the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ivica Dačić. Following the introductory remarks, attendees had the privilege of embarking on a tour of the Museum of Serbian

13 MARCH 2024

Diplomacy, an exclusive opportunity to delve into the history and achievements of Serbian diplomacy within the esteemed premises of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Among the event’s notable guests was HRH Crown Princess Katherine, underscoring the significance of the day and the event itself. Adding to the day’s highlights, Mrs. Barbora Kuchtova, the esteemed president of the IWC and spouse of the Ambassador of the Czech Republic, addressed the gathering. Her speech not only introduced the members of the organization but also extended a heartfelt greeting to all guests, emphasizing the club’s role in fostering international friendship and collaboration.

Honoring a Legacy – Commemorative Conference for Martyred Ambassador Galip Balkar

In Belgrade, a solemn assembly convened at the Hyatt Regency on Monday, 11 March 2024, to honor the legacy of a distinguished figure in Turkish diplomacy, the late H. E. Ambassador Galip Balkar, organised the Turkish Embassy in Belgrade. Marking 41 years since his tragic death, the event titled “MARTYRED AMBASSADOR GALİP

BALKAR: STAR OF THE TURKISH FOREIGN SERVICE” attracted a notable assembly of dignitaries and intellectuals, paying homage to a life devoted to fostering international relations and peace. The commemoration began with an opening statement by H.E. Hami Aksoy, the Ambassador of the Republic of Türkiye, setting a reflective tone for the proceedings. The gathering featured a roster of esteemed speakers, each bringing a unique perspective on Balkar’s contributions and the indelible mark he left on Turkish diplomacy. Among them was H.E. Tanju Bilgiç, the Ambassador of the Republic of Türkiye to the Russian Federation, who not only shared insights from his tenure in Belgrade but also from his work as the author of “Hariciyenin Yıldızı Şehit Büyükelçi Galip Balkar,” a book chronicling the late ambassador’s life and service. Adding to the diversity of viewpoints was Mr. Dragoljub Kojčić, a celebrated Serbian political philosopher, publicist, and editor, who elucidated on Balkar’s influence beyond the Turkish diplomatic circles, touching upon his impact on international relations and cross-cultural understanding.



World Gas Exporting Leaders in Algiers

The 7th Summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) opened in Algiers on March 2nd aiming at safeguarding the interests of both gas producers and consumers.

In his opening remarks, Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune underscored the forum’s crucial role in tackling contemporary challenges, advancing sustainable development, and meeting the surging global demand for energy.

Tebboune reaffirmed the forum’s commitment to supporting long-term contracts, fair pricing mechanisms, and substantial investments in the gas sector.

Senior officials and industrial leaders from Qatar, Iraq, Mauritania, Tunisia, Iran, Senegal, Mozambique, Bolivia, and Libya convened at the summit, showcasing a diverse representation of nations committed to shaping the future of global energy.

The GECF, headquartered in Doha, has 12 permanent members, namely Algeria, Bolivia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela, as well as seven observer members.

These countries represent 69 percent of confirmed global gas reserves, 39 percent of marketed production, and 40 percent of global gas exports, according to the GECF official website.

Algeria, positioning itself as a critical natural gas supplier for European countries aiming to reduce dependence on Russia, hosted envoys

Welcome Message by His Excellency

Mr Abdelmadjid Tebboune President of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria

“I am pleased to extend warm fraternal greetings to Your Majesties, Highnesses, and Excellencies. I am honored to welcome you to Algeria for the 7th Summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) on March 2nd, 2024. On this occasion, I also wish to express my sincere appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, for his successful leadership at the previous Summit and his skillful management of its proceedings. My gratitude extends to the GECF Secretary General and all those who have dedicated their efforts to preparing this important summit.

The Algiers session takes place amidst a growing focus on natural gas as a crucial energy source for economic and social development and its potential as a clean and environmentally friendly energy source. This makes us, as we meet in the capital Algiers, look forward to deepening our discussions and collaborations to affirm natural gas’ role as an essential resource for energy transitions, address technology challenges, encourage investment in exploration and development of natural gas fields, and foster mutually beneficial partnerships between producing and consuming countries alike.

Algeria is keen to surround this event with all the conditions necessary for success. On this occasion, while firmly adhering to the values of cooperation and solidarity within the framework of our forum, it considers that the preservation of this precious resource and the utilization of its advantages is a shared responsibility that requires a mutual understanding of balancing interests and sharing benefits.

I welcome Your Majesties, Highnesses, and Excellencies as esteemed guests.

Peace be upon you, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings.

18 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs FORUM by Robert Čoban

Russian Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov: Russia Seeks a Reasonable Energy Balance!

The Russian Minister of Energy sheds light on the context and challenges surrounding the 7th Summit of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF), which commences today in Algiers.

In this exclusive interview with El Moudjahid, he emphasizes the constraints facing the gas market and underscores the importance, openness, and non-discrimination of global natural gas markets within the “Algiers Declaration.”

Furthermore, he stresses that Russia has never used energy resources as a means of pressure against other countries. Nikolai Shulginov, a seasoned figure in the energy world, was born on May 18, 1951, in Sablinskoye, in the Aleksandrovsky district of Stavropol Territory.

Nikolai Shulginov, Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation, boasts extensive academic credentials in the energy field. In 1973, he graduated from the Sergo Ordzhonikidze Polytechnic Institute in Novocherkassk with a specialization in power supply for industrial enterprises and cities. From October 1975 to December 1976, he worked as an engineer at the Pyatigorsk branch of the All-Union Design and Research Institute Selenergoproekt. Since July 1998, he has held various positions, including Chief Engineer of the Central Dispatch Service at Stavropolenergo, a subsidiary of RAO UES of Russia, Pyatigorsk. From July 1998 to September 2002, he served as Deputy Director, then Director of the Territorial Computing Center and Contract for the Federal Wholesale Electricity Market at the Unified Dispatch Administration for the North Caucasus, a branch of RAO UES of Russia, Pyatigorsk. From July 2002 to September 2015, he was Director of Technical Audit at SO UES (former SO-CDU UES).

In March 2004, he was appointed Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. In 2007, he obtained his Doctorate in Technology from the North Caucasus State Technical University. In February 2009, he became First Vice President of the Board of Directors in Moscow, and from September 2015 to 2020, he served as Chairman of the Board of Directors and CEO of RusHydro in Moscow. On November 10, 2020, he was appointed Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation.

You are participating in the 7th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the GECF. What are Russia’s expectations for this important event, which takes place against a backdrop of excessive volatility in global energy markets?

Much has changed since the two years when, as head of the Russian delegation, I participated in the 6th GECF Summit in Doha. At that time, we were rebuilding the energy sector after the coronavirus pandemic, combating underinvestment in the oil and gas sector, and addressing other challenges with economic roots.

Today, to these challenges are added artificial political obstacles to the natural development and progress of the energy sector. Unilateral and illegitimate restrictions imposed by several countries have destabilized global energy markets. The “capping” of oil prices, the joint gas purchasing mechanism, and other aggressive actions undermine the principles of free and non-discriminatory markets. The result is negative consequences for the development of the economy and the gas industry of a given country.

In my opinion, this is a short-sighted view. Gas is affordable, reliable, versatile, and environmentally friendly. It can be used to achieve climate neutrality, which is currently in vogue, without imposing financial burdens on the global economy and, ultimately, on consumers.

Long-awaited by many producing countries, feared by consumers, but postponed for technical and leadership reasons, it seems, will the Gas OPEC finally see the light of day in Algiers? What is Russia’s position on the idea of forming this “organization”?

The GECF does not impose gas production quotas. Our alliance aims to ensure the sovereign rights of member countries over their own natural gas reserves and the ability to independently plan and ensure sustainable and efficient gas development and use for the benefit of their populations. It is also an excellent platform for exchanging experiences, views, and information on key aspects of gas industry development. The Russian Federation remains committed to unity, cohesion, and constructive cooperation among GECF member countries.

“The Algiers Declaration,” which will seal the summit’s work, is expected to send a strong message to the energy world. What will this message be, in your opinion?

I rely on common sense. I believe the declaration will focus on the importance, openness, and non-discrimination of global natural gas markets. We must not forget the need to counter risks and challenges in the gas sector.

from energy-rich nations for a key summit in Algiers. The summit provides an opportunity for participants to coordinate investments and enhance production capacity while showcasing Algeria’s role as a reliable energy supplier. President Abdelmajid Tebboune emphasized the growing demand for natural gas as a clean

energy source for socio-economic development.

Despite Algeria’s ambition to secure long-term contracts and strengthen its reputation as a credible producer, challeng-

es persist. Infrastructure constraints and competition from other gas-producing nations like Qatar pose obstacles to meeting European demand. Additionally, Algeria faces domestic energy needs exacerbated by a growing population.

While Algeria has initiated investments in renewable energy, its economy remains heavily reliant on fossil fuels, with oil and gas revenue contributing significantly to its budget. Balancing domestic energy requirements with export commitments remains a critical concern for the nation’s energy strategy.

Media coverage sposored by Turkish Airlines

Freedom is Always a Matter of Choice

SPeople in Belgrade deserve to hear answers not only to the questions that the government wants to answer

ince the beginning of her career in television, journalist and presenter Rada Djurić has been deemed „the voice of the people.” As the presenter of the Morning Programme and Belgrade Chronicle on the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation (RTS) and the Medju Nama show on Nova S, she is known for asking state officials very uncomfortable questions that other journalists were not even allowed to think of. Later, she hosted the Da Sam Ja Neko show on N1 in which she talked to ordinary people in the streets of Belgrade and throughout Serbia, even in New York City. Our reason for interviewing her is that her voice and opinions are valued and respected.

You have been some of the bestknown faces of RTS for a long time, but you left the public

broadcaster at the time when it became part of the ruling regime’s propaganda machine. What was the reason for departure? Did you have an inkling back then in which direction the public broadcaster was moving?

Ultimately, the simple answer would be “yes”, but it would not be entirely correct. I found myself in a situation where I had to choose between leaving or getting sick.

For 30 years, I witnessed both the rise and fall of RTS. Everything that people talk about and suspect is difficult to explain if you are not part of that system. Both self-censorship and censorship here are much more subtle than in other media. On the one hand, RTS has always been synonymous with great television, in every sense, while for many, at the same time, it is wishful thinking and a definite disappointment.


None of what I was taught, how I perceived the public broadcaster and tried to work accordingly was no longer possible so I left. But making that decision was far from simple.

The viewership and influence are incomparable to all other channels. No matter what RTS has always been authority above all authorities, but was also trusted by the public. This kind of author-

ity can be intoxicating and people often think that they are very important, essential and irreplaceable. RTS is a large system where you can always be invisible if you want and at the same time feel secure. The dissatisfaction of the RTS employees was mainly due to low salaries (which has been a chronic problem all these years and is not accidental) and due to editorial policy. Most importantly, there has never been political will for RTS to become a truly public broadcaster. The introduction of subscription, as a guarantor of independence of every kind, has always been more of a demagogic move, a means of manipulation and a pre-election promise. There has never been a true intention that would benefit both the viewers and employees the most. Every government viewed RTS as an important prey and the RTS

20 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs
MEDIA INTERVIEW by Dragan Nikolić

employees have been treated as usual suspects, sometimes justified, sometimes unjustified.

The public broadcaster’s role has never been clearly defined. Everyone has interpreted it and continues to interpret it as they see fit. I still believe to this day that without a clearly defined role of a public broadcaster, there is no clear role for other TV channels too, especially those who broadcast on national frequency. It is devastating that the government has a reserve national frequency which is used to threaten and discipline the public broadcaster.

Media freedom seems to be our main conversation topic when we talk to journalists. Does our society have media freedom and how do you feel as a journalist - free or not?

Freedom, from personal to media, is always a matter of choice. These choices could be wrong, but the more choices we have, the more intense the feeling of freedom is. Right now, I feel freer than before, but there are increasingly fewer people with whom I can share my freedom. Every conquest of freedom has its price. Fortunately, my closest environment consists of people similar to me and even those who only recognize or remember me from better times. I thank them for that. Speaking of freedom, I often draw a parallel between abused women and men and our entire society. There is no essential difference. Everything starts with lovely promises and a feeling of mutual belonging and respect. Those people who think that persons who suffer abuse can make a simple choice and that just making a choice is enough to get out of that vicious circle maybe should reflect on how ready they are to face their own traumas, humiliations and false assurances.

All the traumas that we have collectively experienced and never faced as a society systemically, force us to remain the biggest victims who will in every way try to rationalize the situation we are in - wars, poverty, job loss, incompetence, waiting at hospitals, waiting for justice to be served, waiting to be paid, waiting for pension, waiting for welfare assistance… Today, in the 21st century, we depend on the state and individuals

in power to give us the money we earn, not for what we need, but for what, when and how much they decide. Institutions are no longer our safe houses and even if they are, once we leave them, another abuser is waiting for us. when be, when we get out of them, a new abuser is waiting for us. The choice to step forward becomes more and more difficult - a new normal is established in which both „foreign” and „domestic” wage earners become mere observers of their fate. So, having a choice is the solution and prerequisite for all freedoms, including media freedom. It is not easy, but it is doable. We have to help each other.

Your programme - Da Sam Ja Neko (If I Were Somebody) - gave a strong voice to ordinary people, people we meet in the street, our neighbours. How important is that voice to be heard today? Where do you find inspiration for the many people you talk to and the places you visit?

My programme gives a voice to people who are ready to step forward. I wanted to show myself and others that not everyone is the same and that it’s not scary if you publicly express your opinion. We made 500 shows and

talked to 600 of the most diverse people in Serbia, of various professions, social status, age and interests, and ideological and political orientations in the past three and a half years. They are the proof that things can change and that change is worth it. It is never black and white, us versus them, ours and theirs. I don’t believe in ME. WE always win. That is also the answer to the question of where we find our interlocutors and what motivates us – that is me and the whole team.

Do you think that the authorities (not only in our country but everywhere) listen to ordinary people - workers, farmers, artists?

They hear, but they don’t listen. On the other hand, the authorities, not only in this country, are so far away that maybe it’s time to stop shouting as they certainly won’t hear us. Screaming is not a solution either. It lasts a short time and you quickly run out of breath. There is one frequency to which even the most distant people are not immune and it’s marching. The sound is not excessively powerful, but it is strong and constant. Like marching feet, your own or someone else’s. It doesn’t matter. They are heard best in silence.


Who would you like to interview next and what would you ask them?

I want to ask those who think they are someone very important and hence act only from a position of power, what they would do if they really were as important as they think they are. It would be good to hear from them what they would do if the power and force were taken away from them. The list is quite long.

To what extent are the modern digital age, life on social networks and artificial intelligence a danger to journalism and society as a whole?

Ignorance has always been the only danger. Ignorance creates fear of the unknown and fear of the unknown in turn leads to loss of control, both over ourselves and technology. We as a species will either return to factory settings or we will not exist. But who still thinks about the future when we suspect everything, except lies? That’s how the lies remain unquestioned, despite everyone claiming they can spot one straight away. Little by little, it imperceptibly disguised itself as the truth and now roams the world and the Internet unhindered.

As a journalist, do you miss covering urban, communal topics in Belgrade and do you think, as a citizen, that people in Belgrade are well informed about the developments in their city?

For a long time, I covered topics that are of public interest to the people living in Belgrade. I miss their energy, their questions and their requests. I miss our partner relationship of trust and the feeling that we have fixed something with joint effort. People in Belgrade deserve to hear answers not only to the questions that the government wants to answer. They know very well how to recognize who is working for theirs and who for personal interests, which is why it is high time that they get what they deserve and what they pay for in the end, which is an accurate, true and clear picture of the city they live in, with clear rights and responsibilities, both their own and those who decide on their behalf. This must not be their choice, rather it should be the rule.


Where Did We Go Wrong as a World After 2004?

Twenty years eaten by locusts

Recently, most people were quite struck by the fact that Željko Joksimović was a guest at the Eurovision Song Contest and nostalgically repeated the song „Lane moje” with which he had almost won in 2004 – the presenters emphasised that it had happened exactly 20 years ago. Twenty years?? It seems like yesterday. But it was a long time ago, as we can see from how different the world was back then. Mostly, better. And everyone started to „rewind” in their heads what it had looked like then and what it is like now. And, we expected a much better world in 2024 than the one we live in now.


On May 1, 2004, ten countries were admitted to the European Union, and that day is celebrated as the „Big Bang” – Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithu-

ania, Cyprus (without Northern Cyprus) and Malta became new members, with a clear indication that in 2007, Romania and Bulgaria would join, followed by Croatia and... so on. And what happened was that in the first 15 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 13 countries were admitted to the EU, and then in the next 20 years – only three. In the meantime, Iceland voluntarily withdrew from the negotiations, Turkey became completely discouraged, and the EU clearly emphasised that new members would not be admitted if they did not control part of their territory – and a lot of them have such territories: Moldova, Serbia, Ukraine, Georgia and until recently Azerbaijan. Cyprus seemed to all of us to be an excellent start-

ing point and a model for joining, but the EU said – even one Cyprus is giving us a headache, and we can’t afford any others. Zoran Živković, the Prime Minister of Serbia at the time, emphasised that Serbia would most likely join in 2007, spurred by the Thessaloniki agenda a year earlier. „Big Bang #2” was expected, where Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia (it was not North back then), Albania, and Montenegro would certainly be accepted in the first round, while others, further east, would perhaps follow later. Kofi Annan proposed an almost perfect plan for the unification of Cyprus in 2004, which was rejected by the Greek Cypriots because of the parts they requested to be corrected, so it was expected


that the corrected version would be adopted in the next referendum. Today, the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Greek Southern Cyprus are further apart than at almost any other point in history.


The Thessaloniki agenda was never realised, and the EU started to behave in a dissonant and self-destructive manner – in 2008, all but five members recognised the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo, and in response to that and the military action of Mikheil Saakashvili, Russia intervened in Georgia and recognised the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Many EU countries supported the „Arab Spring” and, with the USA, enabled the overthrowing and murder of Muammar al-Gaddafi and thus the endless civil war in Libya, huge numbers of refugees, and the emergence of the Islamic State, and a similar thing happened in Syria, where the country and President Bashar

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GLOBAL POLITICS by Žikica Milošević
Photos: © Shutterstock

al-Assad survived, but millions of refugees headed to Europe. Instead of creating a stable Iraq after the 2003 intervention, the Western powers allowed Iraq to begin to disintegrate across all lines, producing more of the Islamic State and more refugees. Due to the inept handling of the refugee crisis, the anti-immigrant rhetoric intensified and the right wing, including the extreme right, grew stronger. In the next awkward phase, in response to the World Economic Crisis and the European Sovereign Debt Crisis, countries led by Germany imposed terrible conditions on the „PIIGS” countries, which crippled Italy and especially Greece for 15 years. Turkey completely abandoned the EU and began to build its own zone of influence, politically, economically, and militarily. One mistake can be survived, but this amount of mistakes has seriously weakened the reputation and attractiveness of the EU.


If we look to the east of the new EU borders, set in 2007 and 2013, we see that the breakdown of the system is even greater. Initially a leader benevolent towards the West (and compared to Peter the Great, due to his pro-Western reforms and the same city of origin), Putin pointed out at the Munich conference in 2007 that it seemed that Europe did not want Russia, thereby ominously announcing what would happen next. And this was the same man who had signed the „Partnership for Peace” and even proposed that Russia join NATO. Back then it seemed that everything was possible – the „coloured revolutions” in Ukraine and Georgia were bloodless, they were received peacefully in Russia, and the pro-Russian forces regrouped and prepared for a rematch – but in the elections, which soon happened in Ukraine. No one in their right mind could have predicted such an escalation 20 years later. Russia’s biggest cultural export at the time was – imagine this – a female pop group of two (supposedly) gay girls, called t.a.t.u; soon „propaganda of non-traditional sexuality” would be banned in Russia. Countries were slowly recovering

from the tragic ’90s and growth rates were high while birth rates were increasing for the first time since the collapse of the USSR. Visas started to be abolished on a large scale – in 2004, Serbia would wait only five years for the „white Schengen list”, like many other countries, but the foundations were laid. At Eurovision, Estonia won first, then Latvia, then Ukraine in 2004, and that year

sic industry has become a sphere where only the big names make money and streaming platforms like Spotify take huge profits, leaving authors with peanuts. People have become more superficial, walking the streets like zombies looking at their mobile phones where they „find life”, instead of living real life. The appearance on social networks has become more important than life itself, and


Serbia and Montenegro returned to the competition, Moldova made its debut in 2005, Serbia won in 2007, Russia in 2008, and Azerbaijan in 2011... It was a time when it seemed that the whole of Europe would finally, after all the wars of the ’90s and the poverty, embrace and sing at a colourful party. We were sorely mistaken.


Ideologically, societies have become deeply divided. People are divided into „us or them”, and „if you are not with us, then you are against us”. The cancel cul-

those who believe that someone lives better than them or looks better, fall into depression – human interactions have decreased, and every year the number of sexual relations decreases too, which is (and also is not) paradoxical – people socialise virtually, not physically, and with all the power of dating apps. The alienation has intensified.


If the countries where the „color revolutions” and the „Arab Spring” took place have lost a lot, the winner, for sure, is – China. Like the other countries of the „Global

Saudi Arabia, and others in that zone, have become the centres of world events in the past 20 years. The biggest airlines are now from Asia, Qatar Airways and Emirates rule the sky, the FIFA World Cup took place in Qatar, and in 10 years it will be held in Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi has the Louvre, Dubai is a world attraction, the Saudis are building even more gigantic projects and allowing tourists visits, and foreigners can dress more casually. Back in 2004, Spain became the first country to legalise samesex marriage, and now there are many such countries. But, on the other hand, many countries have tightened their stance on the public display of LGBTQ ideas and the population, which we can declare „partial winners”. Our summers are getting hotter, we haven’t managed to significantly slow down global warming, we have almost no winters, and we have „supercell storms” similar to hurricanes and tornadoes. If the ice melts at the poles and the sea level rises, if the storms get worse, and the climate changes in many places, this will mean the appearance of completely new plants and animals and the disappearance of old ones, and therefore old practices too. Maybe what awaits us in the next 20 years are millions of migrants, water shortages, and new viruses under the melted ice that were

ture has become terrible, imposing norms and discussions such as those about gender, and the participation of trans athletes in competitions, and social media has only increased the general noise, arguments, and cacophony of opinions. Initially a form of entertainment, it has turned into a place of bitter conflicts. The mu-

South”, which took over production and became giants. Also, the USA is a winner in a way, while Europe is scrambling to „act morally in Ukraine”, „make an energy transition”, „contain China” etc. America triumphs both economically and politically. Furthermore, Arab countries that have avoided ideology, such as the UAE, Qatar,

harmless to animals hundreds of thousands of years ago, but are not harmless to us.

We have taken a wrong turn somewhere in these 20 years, and more than once. Whether we can correct it, or at least not make more such mistakes in the next 20 years, we do not know.


Rwanda – The Promised Land

How an African country that doesn’t have the minimum guaranteed needs of a reliable asylum system and human rights became a safer haven than Great Britain

History repeats itself, but each time it costs more.

Attempts by the British government to buy refugees a one-way ticket to Rwanda against their will are also being repeated, although the cost has increased enormously compared to the first attempt two years ago. What’s more, the Labor opposition says they can send six people into space for less than this government is willing to spend to send one person to Rwanda. However, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expects that „deportations will finally start in the spring”, before June. The story of sending or, more precisely, removing asylum seekers from one’s own territory to someone else’s territory is not controversial because it costs as much as a flight to the

edge of space, nor because for this purpose the British government named Rwanda a safe country, but above all because, if it comes true, this would be an unprecedented event. And it’s not like until now the world could boast of empathy towards the refugees it welcomes by raising ever higher walls.

What is the specific plan of Sunak’s cabinet, which was designed by none other than his former boss and Prime Minister Boris Johnson? As it happens, Great Britain, realised after Brexit that they could not return asylum

seekers to European countries to the extent they had imagined, so they turned to countries outside Europe. Only Downing Street knows why Rwanda precisely, though it’s not hard to imagine Johnson squinting and randomly pointing his finger at a map of Africa. History repeats itself. The only thing that matters is that it is Africa.

Rwanda cannot pride itself on a fair and reliable asylum system and human rights although in recent years, in an attempt to overcome the dark history painted by


the white man, much has been done in terms of economic growth and social development. Therefore, they need money as much as they need rights and justice, so London has offered a substantial amount, which, of course, will be accompanied by democracy. The British government is already trying to declare Rwanda a safe country – if necessary, a promised land – by amending the draft law in the parliament. Last year, when Home Secretary Priti Patel signed a multimillion-dollar deal to resettle refugees in Kigali, she praised the „arrangement” as an effective way to process the growing number of illegal arrivals and claimed the country was a haven. Interestingly, the British government had previously expressed concern in the UN about allegations of „fatal

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Photo © consolersafari / Pixabay

outcomes in custody, disappearances and torture” in Rwanda, and about restrictions on civil and political rights. It appears that since then Kigali has progressed at the speed of lightning, and what those who are meant to get on the planes think about it is evident from the fact that they are on hunger strike, threatening to take their own lives.

However, not everything flows as smoothly as a cup of lukewarm English tea down the throats of British bureaucrats while they are again preparing the plane to Rwanda that was prevented from taking off by the European Court of Human Rights last year. The court had to do this because the decision to remove asylum seekers from British territory to another, and then precisely to a country that cannot be considered safe, is against international law and is considered a dangerous precedent. If the plane does happen to transfer people who don’t want it from the UK to Africa, it would be a major blow to the rule of law in Europe. The ruling Conservatives would betray the proud tradition of providing refuge to those fleeing war and persecution and would violate the obligations under the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees. The British plan is another example of the tendency of European countries to exter-

Migrant Colonies

nalise the asylum issue, such as Denmark, which treats Morocco in this way. However, no country has gone as far as Great Britain, even though similar agreements –such as the one the EU had with Turkey during the Syrian refugee crisis, when it gave millions to Turkey to stop these people from moving on – show that this is not the solution. Flying people to another continent is a new level of negativity. It is also a bad signal to other countries to resort to illegal practices.

Currently, the draft of this deportation bill is subject to „ping pong” in the British Parliament to introduce changes that would annul the items that caused the Su-

says that in this way the government admits that its project has failed. The Tories retort that they have missed the point. Rwanda should serve as a huge disincentive for those who wish to enter the UK in the future. We are not talking about the migrants who come in private jets and stay, but about those who risk their lives in small boats crossing the English Channel to escape wars, persecution, and famine. The „disincentive” of newcomers is one of the pillars of Brexit that has torn the UK from its decades-long marriage to the EU. The citizens were then promised that „they will not come, take your jobs, and stifle the system.” Britain must stop illegal migration, which by the


preme Court to rule last year that the Rwanda plan violates human rights. The changes will make this country a safe place and the sum of £3,000 per person will remove the fact that asylum seekers are being moved against their will even before their claim has been processed. Namely, London’s latest decision is to offer the possibility for asylum seekers to voluntarily go to Rwanda for £3,000. Labor

way is stopping by diverting it to others. It is a matter of life and death for them, especially when it comes to the conservatives remaining in power. However, the controversial plan is not only a matter of some government’s survival. It could mean undermining the refugee system as a whole, which lacks compassion in providing shelter to the vulnerable. If England does what it has set out

to do, then any other country can do it. Let’s remember the Baltic states and Poland two years ago, the Italian practice of returning ships with refugees, and the recent intention of Rome to conclude a similar agreement with Tunisia. We should be fair and say that the human rights of refugees are not respected at any European borders, and the situation will deteriorate further. There are even calls among the ruling conservatives to withdraw, if necessary, from the European Convention on Human Rights for the sake of the new asylum policy. It is unthinkable that a country like Great Britain, with a glorious history of the idea of human rights and the best experts in this field, would allow this. It would mean the end of the Council of Europe, because if they left, why would countries like Hungary and Poland remain there?

Experts claim that the anti-immigrant views of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and her British counterpart Rishi Sunak have found an easy foothold among European centrists, where political blocs are being created ahead of the June elections for the European Parliament. As far as these elections are concerned, it is expected that the right-wing forces will perform well. Thus, this line has a wider influence on European politics. Sunak has already agreed with French President Emmanuel Macron on measures to reduce English Channel migrant crossings. He reached an agreement with Tirana on the return of Albanians, and he is also receiving support in establishing stronger cooperation between British agencies and Frontex. London will also focus on cooperation with Bulgaria (a key point of entry into the EU) and especially Turkey, from where at least one million Syrian and Afghan refugees could head to Western Europe. It is increasingly being heard that countries like Rwanda, Albania, Tunisia, and Moldova are becoming migrant colonies. There are rumors that Rome will divert rescue ships with migrants to Albania. Incidentally, Albanians make up the largest percentage of those who flee in boats across the English

Sunak, himself a child of immigrants, sees nothing controversial in the plan, which he calls a national priority even though he knows that this is a story that never ends because – migration as such is unstoppable. Nevertheless, populist politics has managed to group people, refugees, asylum seekers, victims of human trafficking and gender-based violence, and unaccompanied children, all into one term – migrants. Thus, the European public has been deprived of empathy. They are no longer people in danger and with problems that have a name. They are migrants. They are a security risk. A threat to us. Although it is more likely still a matter of a refugee crisis rather than a migrant crisis.

Compliance with international legal obligations is therefore more necessary today than ever. The issue of the refugee crisis today is a matter of human integrity. These days, the anti-immigrant line has become the new mainstream. Empathy is an extinct emotion. And that’s not the end.

„It’s not the beginning of the end, but maybe it’s the end of the beginning”, as the British Prime Minister said – not this one who tightens the fences, but the one with a top hat on his head and a cigar in his mouth who defended humanity from „racially pure states” in the Second World War.

Channel to Great Britain. Rishi Sunak Photo © Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street

My vision of the cultural development of Belgrade is the creation of an inclusive, dynamic, and inspiring cultural scene that will enrich the lives of all citizens

Irresistible Poeticism and Enthusiasm

NATAŠA MIHAILOVIĆ Secretary for Culture of the City of Belgrade

It is not easy to create a cultural policy for a city that has such a special spirit and tradition and that represents the cultural capital of an entire region. We talked about challenges and plans in the field of culture with Nataša Mihailović, Secretary for Culture of the City of Belgrade.

What are the biggest challenges that the city secretary for culture faces at work?

It depends on which angle you look at it. One of the biggest challenges is certainly ensuring regular and stable financing of thirty-one cultural institutions founded by the City of Belgrade, strengthening cultural production and artistic creativity. No less important is the improvement of cultural programs and content, the position of employees in culture, and there is also maintaining the balance between commercial and artistic goals, managing cultural heritage and infrastructure, as well as ensuring the inclusiveness and accessibility of cultural programs to all citizens, i.e. the realisation of the human right to participation in cultural life.

On the other hand, the challenges I face are also related to changes in social and cultural trends, reinterpretation of cultural identity in the modern context, nurturing cultural diversity, and preserving the authenticity and integrity of cultural expressions given globalisation and digitalisation. As the city’s Secretary for Culture, I also work on finding an efficient way to introduce participatory practices involving the wider community into cultural processes in the context of the

role of art in shaping social norms and values.

Of all the cultural events that have taken place, which ones best represent the spirit of Belgrade?

Belgrade has a rich cultural tradition, it is recognisable for its specific spirit, irresistible poeticism and enthusiasm, and captivating energy, but also manifestations that contribute to the diversity and cul-

tural life of the city. It is not easy to single out just one.

However, the world-renowned events include Bitef, which has a significant role in representing the spirit of Belgrade. This festival brings innovative theatre productions from all over the world, which


contributes to the cultural diversity and openness of the city to global cultural trends. Bitef attracts many domestic and international visitors every year, highlighting Belgrade as an important centre of contemporary theatre art. The March Documentary and Short Film Fes-

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Photo © Andjela Grozdanić

tival is one of the oldest film festivals in Europe and the world. In the past 71 years, it has become a meeting place for filmmakers from our country and abroad, producers, distributors, and representatives of renowned film festivals, a platform for inspiration and the development of new ideas, and always a good opportunity for the local audience to watch exciting and carefully selected films that they cannot see in cinemas. There are also Bemus, the Belgrade Dance Festival, and the Belgrade Jazz Festival, likewise internationally recognised for their high-quality production, impressive program, and engagement of renowned artists from all over the world. The Belgrade Dance Festival is one of the most important European festivals. Thanks to it, Belgrade has become an important stop for world-renowned artists. All these events, along with the indispensable Belgrade Book Fair, also contribute to cultural diplomacy by promoting cultural diversity, understanding, and cooperation. Through art and culture, these events build bridges between different cultures, encourage dialogue and, significantly in today’s global social context, promote peace and tolerance. Belgrade events improve the reputation of the city as open and cosmopolitan and promote Serbian culture and art worldwide in the best possible way.

I must also mention the Fest, which has a long tradition and an important role in the promotion of film art in the region. I am often criticised for the fact that the Fest has twice the budget of other events and in some cases more than twice. I don’t know, maybe they are right, especially considering that the amount of money usually does not determine the quality. I’m sorry that the Fest lost the race with some other festivals since Belgrade is the cultural centre of our region, where artists used to confirm their careers which made the Fest indispensable for international stars. In the coming period, we will work to bring the Fest closer to the new tendencies of international film festivals, which will attract new audiences and once again make Belgrade a relevant centre of film culture in this part of Europe, which it certainly deserves.

How would you assess the current state of Belgrade’s cultural scene?

The current state of the cultural scene in Belgrade can be described as dynamic and diverse, but at the same time faced with certain chal-

lenges. The city still has a rich cultural life with various art events, exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances, and film festivals. However, there are also issues such as lack of space, infrastructural problems in cultural institutions, and challenges in promoting cultural events to a wider audience. Also, continuous investment in the development of new ideas and approaches is needed to refresh the cultural scene and maintain its relevance in today’s rapidly changing world.

In addition to classic cultural events, Belgrade also has a rich scene of visual and contemporary art that contributes to the cultural landscape of the city. Galleries, art

cultural institutions to encourage creativity and innovation. I try to direct the city’s cultural policy toward ensuring transparency, fairness, and inclusiveness in the distribution of funds and support for cultural projects and organisations.

In addition, it is necessary to invest in education and training to encourage the cultural development of young talents and provide access to art for everyone, regardless of social status or geographical location. In the past year and a half, we have achieved intensive cooperation with educational art institutions and have given the chance to students of art faculties to participate together with their professors and


spaces, and museums often organise exhibitions of contemporary artists from Serbia and beyond, as well as artistic events such as performances, installations, and multimedia projects. This scene represents a space for experimentation, interaction, and expression of contemporary ideas and aesthetics, and significantly contributes to the vitality and dynamism of the city’s cultural life.

What is your vision of the cultural development of Belgrade?

My vision of the cultural development of Belgrade is the creation of an inclusive, dynamic, and inspiring cultural scene that will enrich the lives of all citizens. This includes supporting diverse artistic expressions, promoting creativity and innovation, and ensuring that cultural events and institutions are accessible to all, regardless of social status or background. It is also important to invest in education and support for young artists, as well as the preservation and promotion of Belgrade’s rich cultural heritage. Through these efforts, Belgrade can become even more recognisable as the leading cultural centre of our region, attracting artists, visitors, and investments, while at the same time contributing to the quality of life of its residents.

It is important to create space for dialogue, exchange of ideas, and cooperation between artists and

sector, and international organisations to jointly develop and implement cultural projects.

Through these activities, we try to create a supportive environment that encourages cultural creativity and contributes to the development of the city’s cultural scene.

Additionally, it is important to support programs that encourage interaction between cultural institutions and the community, as well as projects that promote inclusivity, diversity, and citizen participation in cultural activities. This can contribute to the creation of a more vibrant cultural life in the city and strengthen the ties between cultural institutions and the local community.

Is there international cooperation in the form of agreements and initiatives for cultural exchange and joint projects that would improve the situation in the cultural community?

city institutions in the creation and implementation of city manifestations. Also, it is important to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of Belgrade through the restoration of historical landmarks, museums, and archives.

How does the City Secretariat for Culture encourage cultural creativity?

First of all, the Secretariat encourages closer cooperation with other cultural institutions, non-governmental organisations, the economic

Yes, the European Union has various programs and funds that support cultural cooperation between member states and partner countries, such as the Creative Europe program. There are also regional initiatives such as the Central European Initiative or the Strategy for the Danube Region that promote cultural cooperation between countries in the region. We encourage cultural institutions to get involved in such initiatives and apply to international calls for the realisation of various projects.

It is also important to work on the decentralisation of culture and support institutions outside the city centre to ensure the availability of cultural content and activities city-wide. This can contribute to the inclusiveness and participation of citizens from different parts of the city, as well as strengthening the local cultural scene and identity.

Through continuous education, an innovative approach, and support for the decentralisation of culture, the City Secretariat for Culture can contribute even more significantly to improving the quality and availability of cultural programs in Belgrade, as well as strengthening cooperation with the EU and other international partners.


Women’s CEO Summit Held –

Greater Solidarity and Support Among Women is Needed

Today, the Women’s CEO Summit organized by Color Media Communications was held in the company of women from the state administration, diplomatic corps in Belgrade, media, cultural institutions and marketing agencies. Those present had the opportunity to be part of a very authentic experience because the conference program included a handful of interesting and important topics. We had a unique opportunity to learn more about the non-traditional model of leadership, see and hopefully understand why women are leaders who bring not only empathy to every system, but stronger cooperation, better communication, a more effective approach to problems and challenges with the implementation of innovative solutions. The conference was realized with the support of the United Nations Population Fund in Serbia (UNFPA) and the companies Chenot Escape One & Only Portonovi, Coca Cola Serbia, British Motors and Dahlia.

The conference was opened with speeches from Nina Mitić, As-

Taking a closer look at the conference aiming to empower and connect women leaders

sistant Minister for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, Brankica Janković, commissioner for equality and Nataša Mihailović Vacić, secretary for culture of the City of Belgrade.

Nina Mitić, Assistant Minister for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue said that in the previous period, the Republic of Serbia worked dedicatedly to improve gender equality - from the adoption of the Law on Gender Equality in 2021 and accompanying by-laws, through the provision of incentives for the development of entrepreneurship by the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Agriculture, and benefits for the purchase of an apartment for mothers with children, to the registration of rural farms

and property for women living in rural areas.


„However, circumstances in the world are changing, which also affects the position of women. In

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Michal Lebenthal Andreson

a new report by the World Economic Forum, it is estimated that women will not equal men for another 131 years, and the global trend of improving the position of women has, according to all reports, slowed down. This trend did not bypass the Republic of Serbia either, which, according to the report of the World Economic Forum on the state of gender equality from 2021, fell from 19th to 23rd place. It is ranked best when it comes to the participation of women in political life, where it ranks 21st. However, according to the criterion of women’s involvement in economic life and their economic opportunities, it fell from 54th to 77th place in the world. Progress has been recorded in women’s access to education, and according to that criterion, it is in 37th place,” Mitić said.

Brankica Janković, the Commissioner for Equality pointed out that solidarity and support are key in the further success of women and that such conferences are a good opportunity to foster good relations and additional networking.

„Women’s rights are human rights, they apply to both men and women, there is no separation, we don’t need new divisions. Today, women are in different positions, in different domains, but that is still not enough. We still need to work on an even better business environment that will eliminate patriarchal mechanisms,” Janković pointed out.

Nataša Mihailović Vacić, the Secretary for Culture of the City

of Belgrade said that for the further improvement of the position of women in the field of culture, when we talk about strategic

„The adoption of the Action Plan for the implementation of the new Prevention and Protection Against Discrimination Strategy


documents, it is very important to adopt the Strategy of Cultural Development, on the basis of which the culture of state administration and local governments must be based. We lack that new strategy, and I see it as a place where we can especially start responding to the needs of women in culture that arise from inequality.

is in progress. Given that women are recognized by this strategic document as a sensitive social group, perhaps the city itself should be involved in the creation of such an important document.”, she added.

Women’s Voice in Diplomacy is the first panel in which John Kennedy Mosoti, Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for Serbia, participated, who at the beginning had a very interesting presentation on the topic Policies to Progress: Expanding Family Friendly Workplaces and Combating Technology Facilitated Gender-Based Violence (Policies for progress: a greater number of family-focused workplaces and the fight against digital gender-based violence) and then he was joined in the panel by Milana Rikanović, director of UN Women in Serbia, Plamena Halačeva, Deputy Head of the EU Delegation in Serbia, Monika Podsklanova Šuhajdo-

va, Deputy Ambassador of Embassy of Slovakia in Serbia and Silvia Davidou, Ambassador of Romania in Serbia. Aleksandra Joksimović, director of the Center for Foreign Policy and former ambassador of Serbia in London, moderated the panel.

“As we strive for achieving full gender equality, it’s vital to promote critical issues like family-friendly policies and technology-facilitated gender-based violence. The concerning fact that 78% of young girls in Serbia feel unsafe in digital spaces despite spending significant time online, highlights the urgent need to create safer digital spaces, which is exactly what bodyright campaign is about - states John Kennedy Mosoti, UNFPA Director for Serbia.

„Additionally, implementing family-friendly policies will alleviate the burden of unevenly shared care work, often placed on women. I am happy that we continue working with the Government of the Republic of Serbia and other partners, such as Austrian Development Agency, on developing a sound policy framework in Serbia, in our joint efforts not only to address gender inequalities but also support women’s participation and help narrow the gender gap in employment in Serbia”- adds Mosoti.

Nataša Mihailović Vacić

The guest speaker from Israel, Michal Lebenthal Andreson, co-founder of the Israeli femtech startup Impact51 and the company Think Creative spoke as a distinguished lecturer about the power of change and how to become the very change we are looking for. She inspired us not to give up on our goals, no matter how hard they seem.

CEO Talks: Business is the panel in which the participants were Dragana Orlandić, Dahlia, Danijela Gašparac, Telekom, Srbijavoz, Marija Matić, Direct Media, Violeta Jovanović, NALED i Marija Trivić, Media Support & Consulting d.o.o. Nataša Vulin, from Advertising Solutions, moderated the panel.

“Young women aspiring to leadership positions should focus on building confidence, seeking mentorship and honing their skills. They can overcome challenges by advocating for themselves, cultivating flexibility, and expanding and nurturing their support network. In addition, staying informed about industry trends and taking advantage of their unique perspectives can help to see different perspectives and ensure a sure path to leadership positions.”, as Dragana Orlandić, general

director in the company Dahlia, pointed out.

CHENOT ESPACE, One&Only Portonovi was presented as a case study by the representatives of this company, Leonarda Dragić and Najda Đorđević.

Even lionesses who are determined to conquer the world need a break and a reset. Chenot Espace offers a transformative experience, optimizing your physical and mental abilities through detoxification and resetting of body and mind. This journey to well-being is made possible based on the principles of the famous Chenot Method, a practical framework that combines the latest scientific achievements of Western medicine and diagnostics with

the best methods of Chinese and alternative healing.

For the CEO Talks: Communication panel, the participants were Milica Bajković, Forward, PR & Communications Agency, Danijela Popović Jurić, Red Communications, Sandra Radujko, New Media Team i Ivana Laković, Luxury Integrated. Moderator was Milica Djokić, Journal.rs.

As for the last panel, CEO Talks: Media & Culture, the discussion was moderated by Maja Rakovic, Naxi Radio, while her interlocutors were Manja Grčić, K1, Majo Public, Tijana Palkovljević, Matica Srpska Gallery, Jelena Medaković, Belgrade City Museum, Ivana Bašičević Antić, Museum of naive and marginal art, Lidija Ćuli-

brk, editor-in-chief of the magazine „Lepota i zdravlje” i Duška Jovanić, Diplomacy & Commerce magazine.

Why was it important to be present at this event?

Because women in the highest positions in the world of diplomacy, business, culture and media must network and create a support system for young ladies who are just following in their footsteps and need all the support to change this world even more and better and strengthen the position of women in all spheres. It is by building meaningful relationships and with a little luck that we can all create the professional, personal and humane lives we want.

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Panel 3 Panel 4

Exploring History With a Traveling Exhibition

White Russians and the renaissance of Serbian theater: A journey through time

Association „Petrovaradin Media” with the media support of the company „Color Media Communications” and the institutional support of the Ministry of Culture realized the traveling exhibition „White Russians and the renaissance of the Serbian theater”. The project was realized with the support of the Museum of Theater Arts of Serbia, which gave historical materials for the purposes of the project.

With carefully selected texts and accompanied by pictures, the history of theaters in Serbia that were created under the influence of the White Russians in the time after the October Revolution is presented.

Exhibitions were held in Novi Sad, Bela Crkva, in the Russian House in Belgrade and in Novi Bečej, as places where there was the greatest concentration of White Russians between the two wars.

The first exhibition, in Novi Sad, was opened on February 2, 2024, in the Serbian National Theater (Foyer of the „Jovan Đorđević” stage). The performance was opened by Dr. Zoran Đerić, manager of the Serbian National Theater, Aleksandar Ćurčić, director of the Youth Theater, Ivan Dolgov, journalist from

Russia, and Robert Čoban, president of Color Press Group.

„This exhibition is not too large in terms of scope, but it is important and large in terms of importance because it reminds us of something that is being forgotten, how much, 100 years ago, with the arrival of great artists from Russia, their influence was great in all areas. From ballet, music and art pedagogy, to the very creative moves, and as actors, more like ballet artists and opera singers, directors, but also as scenographers and costume designers. In all possible fields, they made excep-


tional contributions and in a way nurtured entire generations of our artists, who thanks to them got trained and attached to theaters, not only here but in Serbia and beyond,” said Đerić.

„A young Russian family lives in Novi Sad, and the father of the family is a director who graduated from Gitis in Moscow, Konstantin Muhanov. This season, he will be a guest at the Youth Theater with the puppet show „Lead Soldier”, contemporary and very interesting,” said Ćurčić.

Ivan Dolgov, a journalist from Russia who immigrated to Serbia, also greeted the audience.

„What I have noticed in these three months in Serbia are more The director of the Youth Theater, Aleksandar Ćurčić, introduced us to the influence of the Russian puppet theater in the world and announced good news from his house.

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and more joint projects of Russian and Serbian artists, be it contemporary art, dance, music. There are more and more cultural ties that are becoming stronger every day. It is a benefit for both sides, while the Serbian culture under the new influence is very similar, but still different. Russian creative minds have a chance to freely explore themselves and express themselves freely. I hope that we will

all benefit in the years to come,” said Dolgov.

At the end, Robert Čoban, director of Color Press Group and organizer of the traveling exhibition, addressed the audience.

„The significance of the presence of Russians in our city, in Serbia, in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, was enormous at that time. We are not talking only about the theater, some of the most beautiful buildings we have in Novi Sad were designed by Russian architects, the

Military Center, the Health Center on Mihajla Pupin Boulevard and many buildings in Belgrade. This exhibition is a kind of welcome to Russians, to make them feel like the Kingdom of Yugoslavia received their compatriots in the twenties. I hope that we who live here will also learn something about that period in this way,” said Čoban.

After Novi Sad, the exhibition was officially opened in the Museum in Bela Crkva. The exhibition was opened by Igor Vokoun, the director of the Museum in the White Church, Vladimir Kasteljanov, the founder of the Russian Room Museum, and Robert Čoban, the president of „Color Press Group”. Before the welcoming speeches, Hana Đorđević, soloist of the Music School from Vršac, performed two songs in the Russian language „Ni slova, o drug moi” and „Zabyt tak skora” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

On February 20, the exhibition was also held in the Russian House in Belgrade. The exhibition was opened by Dr. Georgij Engelhardt, Scientific Advisor at the Russian House, Vesna Burojević, Director of the Museum of Serbian Art, and

Robert Čoban, President of Color Press Group. Dr. Georgij Engelhardt addressed the audience at the beginning, who thanked the organizers of the exhibition and the Museum of Theater Arts of Serbia as a source of information.

„This exhibition is very interesting, very useful, and we are very glad that it was placed in the Russian House, where the people, whose biographies are presented here, performed, gathered, socialized here, it is their

„Everything we know about artists from Russia and their stay is with us. We were happy to respond to the invitation to submit documentation that unifies this story into one. Theater life in Serbia cannot be imagined without Russian artists, and I am glad that we managed to preserve everything and I hope that we will have a reason to show this rich historical material even more often,” said Burojević.

Robert Čoban, president of Color Press Group and organizer of the exhibition, also addressed the audience.

“Even after a hundred years in Serbia, we have directors who enrich our culture and society. This exhibition is a small effort and a small tribute to those Russians who came 100 years ago and their descendants, I believe that some of you are present here, and to these Russians who came in the past few years, and I am glad that we at least did something to give them recognition and glory” said Čoban.

The opening was also attended by Branislav Kholodkov, the grandson of the famous opera singer, Pavel Fyodorovich Kholodkov, one of the


house. We are very grateful that the organizers made such an effort to present a part of our common cultural history,” said Engelhardt.

The visitors were also greeted by Vesna Burojević, director of the Museum of Theater Arts of Serbia.

The last exhibition was opened on February 27 in the House of Culture in Novi Bečej. The exhibition was opened by Edit Zerebelji Tenji, expert associate at the Novi Bečej Cultural Center together with Robert Čoban.

White Russians featured in the exhibition.

The Hardy Tin Soldier

The traveling exhibition „White Russians and the Renaissance of the Serbian Theater”, which we had the opportunity to see during the unusually warm month of February in Novi Sad, talks about the influence of Russian artists on the development of ballet, opera,

and drama in Serbia. According to the director of the Serbian National Theater Zoran Đerić, many

of them were engaged in theater directing, which does not make them much different from Rus-

It’s very important to stay brave and endure all the bad things that life brings

sian artists who still offer their services to our theaters today, more than 100 years later. During the duration of the exhibition, we had the opportunity to meet exactly one such theater director. This is Konstantin Mukhanov, who is currently working on the staging of his play The Hardy Tin Soldier., which is based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name, at the Youth Theater in Novi Sad.

Together with his family, Mukhanov came to Serbia in November 2022, namely to Novi Sad, the city that holds the title of European Capital of Culture. As one of the reasons why he decided on Novi Sad, he states that the architecture and relief of the city itself remind him of Zelenograd, the suburb of Moscow where he lived before coming to Serbia. Comparing Belgrade and Novi Sad, he says that both cities have their own rich history and culture and that he finds many inspiring places in them, such as Kalemegdan and Petrovaradin. He points out that he greatly appreciates the fact that in Belgrade it is possible to see traces of different cultures, such as the remains of the Austrian, Turkish, and Roman empires, but also that he finds certain similarities between New Belgrade from the communist Yugoslavia era and certain places and cities in Russia. However, Belgrade is too urban and noisy for him, and he enjoys the peace offered by Novi Sad with its narrow streets and bicycle paths.

Through the conversation, I concluded that one of the main reasons why he came to Serbia,

34 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs
LIFE STORIES by Filip Kalmarević
KONSTANTIN MUKHANOV Russian Theater Director

and not to some other European country, was precisely the similarity between our cultures and peoples, which constantly binds us throughout the centuries. He claims that it is always difficult to fit into a different environment, but that the process of adaptation is much easier if you manage to find similarities between that place and the place you come from. „People can adapt to any condition, I firmly believe that!”, but he adds that the process is also easier if you are young, and although he says he is young, he does not allow himself certain „silly things” because of his family. He points out that he is very glad that his children, through socializing with their peers in kindergarten, have the opportunity to learn the Serbian language as if it were their mother tongue and that they already speak much better than him.

What shocked him during his stay in Serbia was the kindness and hospitality he encountered at every step. I was very glad that he pointed out these two qualities because often as a nation we know to be too self-critical in this regard. When asked what are the main similarities and differences between the Serbian and Russian people, he says that the Russian people are extremely heterogeneous and that he believes that he would not be able to properly answer that question, but that the Orthodox Christian faith is certainly

our greatest similarity. What was unusual for him about our churches is that the flag of the Republic of Serbia flies on the flagpole along with the church flag. I tried to explain to him through the history of the creation of the flag and the symbolism of all the colors on it that it does not represent something political, but that it has a much deeper meaning and that we as a nation are very proud of our flag because it represents the centuries-old struggle of our people for freedom from foreign occupier.

After that, we moved on to talk about the play he is working on,

as well as the differences and similarities between film and theater as art. He revealed to me that he is working on a theatrical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale „The Hardy Tin Soldier.” and that he hopes that the play will have its premiere in 2024 at the Youth Theater in Novi Sad.

“The story is about one of 25 toy soldiers made out of tin spoons. But because there was not enough material for all 25 soldiers, one of them was without a leg. That soldier in the children’s room meets a ballerina made out of paper and immediately falls in love. The reason for that is that he saw her standing on one leg because she was in a dancing position. He tries to reach her but ends up on the streets, where he suffers many terrible things. He ends up in a sewer and gets eaten by a fish, but he stays strong and


dreams about seeing her again. Then, someone catches the fish and puts it on the kitchen table to prepare it for dinner. But the chef works in the house for the family the toy soldier was given to in the first place. The chef gives a toy back to the child, and then the child throws it into the fire by accident. The wind blows and puts the ballerina next to him in the fire, and for that brief moment, they are finally together. They both burn in fire, and the only thing that is left is some parts of metal and jewelry.”

The story is of course sad, but it has a powerful message, which is that it is very important to stay brave and endure all the bad things that life brings. He explained to me that the show would feature a combination of real actors and puppets and that each actor would have a puppet version of their character. We talked a little about the differences and similarities between film and theater and how film directors focus much more on the concept of time in their projects, while theater directors’ preoccupation is emotion and communication with the audience in the room. He says that he is still learning a lot about the theater and the stage, and he also answered the question of whether he behaves authoritarian or flexible while working with the actors in the play. „Sometimes I do act authoritarian while working with actors because I see the whole picture, but I listen to them often when they want to let me know how they feel about their role and what they would do differently,” he concluded.

He says that he is very grateful to the director of the Youth Theater, Emilia Mrdaković, who helped him a lot and whom he considers a good friend. He also told me that at the moment he is not thinking at all about returning to Russia and that he thinks that staying in Serbia is very good for him and his family. The conversation with Mr. Mukhanov was really refreshing for me and I’m glad we had the opportunity to talk about big and small things outside of politics, I’m especially glad about the message he sent at the end of our conversation about how he thinks it’s sad that many cultural ties that existed between Russia and the West will be severed and erased due to politics and power play.


Navigating the Future of Work

Key Skills for Success in the 21st Century

In today’s dynamic business environment, where technological innovations and changes in the labor market shape the landscape, companies are facing increasing challenges on their path to success, especially in managing employee development. The panel „Key Skills for the 21st Century,” held recently by the student association EESTEC Novi Sad at the Science and Technology Park in Novi Sad, provided deep insights and strategies for successfully navigating this era of change.

As part of the „Konteh” Conference, which took place for the eighteenth time in Novi Sad and was intended for students of technical sciences, the panel featured speakers including Dragoljub Damljanović (Schneider Electric Serbia), Boban Poznanović (Levi9 / Serbian AI Society), Robert Čoban (Color Press Group), and Adam Kovač (3Lateral). The moderator was Nikola Božić from the Faculty of Applied Ecology in Belgrade.

One of the most important topics highlighted at the panel was the importance of continuous education and skills development for employees. In today’s business world, where technological innovations are advancing rapidly, leaders must recognize the crucial role of training and developing their teams. This means not only keeping up with new technologies

and trends but also continuously investing in the training of employees to ensure they have the necessary skills for success.

In addition to technical skills, emphasis was placed on the importance of developing soft skills. In today’s digital world, where communication is increasingly digital, skills such as teamwork, communication, leadership, and time management are becoming increasingly important.

A part of the discussion about the role of artificial intelligence in the future of work stems from current global innovations. Artificial intelligence is increasingly becoming part of everyday business processes, enabling companies to automate tasks, analyze data, and optimize performance. However, panelists emphasized that artificial intelligence is not a replacement for human work and creativity but rather a tool that can enhance our abilities and make our jobs easier.

Mentorship, as an important aspect of individual development, was particularly addressed at the panel. It can be crucial for the career development of employees, providing them with opportunities


to learn from more experienced colleagues, gain valuable knowledge and skills, and develop professionally.

From the perspective of companies, investing in the development of employees’ skills brings numerous benefits. Skilled employees are more productive, creative, and efficient in performing their duties, leading to increased business efficiency and competitiveness. Additionally, companies that support the development of their employees’ skills create a positive work environment, increase employee engagement and loyalty, and build a reputation as employers who care about their workers. Even if employees decide to leave the company at some point, investing in their skills development remains a lasting value that contributes to the long-term success of the company.

For employees, continuous skills development provides an opportunity for personal and professional growth, increases confidence and motivation, and enables greater opportunities for advancement and career development. Additionally, developing new skills allows employees to remain relevant in


the job market and adapt more easily to changes in the industry.

Nurturing creativity and critical thinking is crucial for both individuals and their employers. Creativity is the foundation of innovation and a key factor in solving complex business challenges. When we nurture creativity within ourselves, we open the doors to new ideas, perspectives, and solutions that can improve our work and contribute to the success of the company. Creative thinking encourages us to think outside the box, dare to experiment, and make innovative decisions that can have a significant impact on business.

When companies foster an open and inclusive work culture that values diversity of thought and ideas, employees feel freer to express their creativity and voice critical perspectives. This creates fertile ground for innovative solutions and encourages employee engagement and loyalty.

In conclusion, the panel concluded that investing in human resources is not only a corporate responsibility but also a key factor for longterm success and sustainability in business. Companies that recognize the importance of the education and development of their employees have advantages in attracting, retaining, and motivating talent, as well as achieving longterm success in the market.

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Požarevac First in the Region –Bambi Introduced a Unique Center for Innovation

The Bambi company presented its Center for Research and Development within the factory in Požarevac, which was created with the idea of gathering top technologists and cross-referencing their knowledge in the search for innovative recipes that will satisfy the needs of consumers

This center covers 1,400 square meters of functional space, and 2.5 million euros were invested in its construction. It started operating in early 2023. What makes it unique is the mini production line, which allows greater flexibility in developing new products.



Honor Debuts Brand New “AI-empowered All-scenario” Strategy at MWC 2024

HONOR Announces Global Launch of HONOR Magic6 Pro and AI PC HONOR MagicBook Pro 16, Demonstrating Its Innovative Open Collaboration Paving the Way in the AI Era

Global technology brand HONOR has revealed its new strategy for all situations by introducing an AI-enhanced experience that enables collaboration between multiple operating systems, as well as AI with a focus on human intent, along with a range of smart devices in collaboration with global partners. During its keynote, HONOR not only announced the global launch of the HONOR Magic6 Pro but also its latest AIPC, the HONOR MagicBook Pro 16, which is equipped with HONOR AI at the platform level for a better human-centric experience.

24 FEBRUARY 2024

Luxury, Innovation, Success: Adria Summit Returns for Third Year

Regional renowned leaders in e-commerce and entrepreneurship are gearing up for one of the most exciting events in the region – the Adria Summit. This exclusive conference, now in its third consecutive year, marks its presence at prestigious locations – the Kempinski Adriatic Hotel in Umag and the Kempinski Palace in Portorož

Two days of inspiring discussions and interactive panels promise a deep analysis of the impact of the crisis in the IT industry in the USA on the regional market, while also celebrating the triumphs of companies that have managed to rise to challenges and expand their businesses worldwide. Be part of this exciting adventure. More information and registration are available at www.adriasummit.com.

The latest addition to the prestigious flagship HONOR Magic series, the HONOR Magic6 Pro boasts advances in photography, display, performance and user experiences based on artificial intelligence (AI). Driven by its commitment to human-centric innovation, HONOR has introduced MagicOS 8.0, the latest ver-

sion of its Android-based operating system, which introduces HONOR platform-level AI and an industry-first intent-based user interface. In this way, HONOR is transforming the user experience, introducing completely new, multi-modal ways for people to interact with their smart devices.

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As the CEO of Bambi, Dragan Stajković, points out, innovation is a key element of the company’s development strategy, as well as a response to the dynamic environment in which it operates.

Environment Where People Grow on Their Unique Personalities

The whole Coca-Cola system gives everyone a voice and builds consensus around common ideas that foster trust, credibility, and confidence in the future

With Gorica Stojkovic, new general manager for Serbia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia in the Coca-Cola Company, we spoke about the secret of success, personal and business growth, and upcoming industry trends.

You have been working at the Coca-Cola HBC for over 16 years. During that period, you changed several positions in the Finance sector. What is it like to work for so long in the same system but in different positions?

The whole Coca-Cola system gives everyone a voice and builds consensus around common ideas that foster trust, credibility, and confidence in the future. And that is the place where people want to grow both personally and professionally. In every position that I held, we were learning together, with smiles, and that is common to the whole system. We bring together our diverse talent to achieve great results, and we are ready to share both our victories and our failures. We celebrate our diversity, equity, and inclusivity. The purpose of The Coca-Cola Company is to refresh the world and make a difference. Who does not want to be a part of that?

What human qualities do you consider most important for a successful career? Do you have any advice for anyone who wants to achieve the same business goals as you?


Coca-Cola general manager for Serbia, Montenegro, and North Macedonia

Human qualities that I value even outside the business context, and which I think contribute to good results at the workplace, are just being nice to people and easy to work with. Sounds easy, however, in my personal experience, this was the secret ingredient to success, much more than any specific finance or business expertise

As a finance director in the past and as a general manager in the present, your responsibilities entailed making important and not always easy decisions. How did you overcome your biggest business dilemmas?

To accelerate our growth and transform our business, we are shifting our mindset from ‘know it all’ to ‘learn it all,’ being curious and inclusive in all we do. We embrace continuous learning to improve our business and ourselves. We are future-focused, and we are continuously reviewing what is not working. We experiment boldly and see our failures as a stepping-stone to success.

When I have business dilemmas, the first thing I do is consult with

my team so we can together familiarize ourselves with the newly created situation and understand the impacts of different decisions. Moreover, after many years of experience, when making big decisions, it is important that the entire team is behind it, that we believe in ourselves, and that we celebrate success together or learn in case of failure.

As a company, how do you stay on top of industry trends?

As a total beverage company, we are committed to offering people more of the drinks they want across a range of categories and in a variety of packages. In addition, we are bringing drinks to them in new, memorable ways with al-


most twice as many categories as ten years ago, including water, tea, plant-based beverages, and on-thego coffee. We focus on our consumers, their lives, and changing needs, and we adapt to them. We are also bringing cutting-edge excellence in ingredients, innovation, design, experiences, and marketing. As part of this, we are driving the most radical marketing transformation in our history. We have moved away from focusing on broadcast TV ads to digital-first engagement. We are combining partnerships, technology, and our consumers’ passions to create unforgettable experiences in music, gaming, and sports. We are reformulating our products while offering a choice of pack sizes and intake of sugars . As we grow, we want our business to meet the needs of people and our planet, seeking to create a positive impact in the communities we serve. We Refresh the World and Make a Difference!



Galenika: Strategic Portfolio Expansion and Growth of Business Internationalization

Belgrade, February 28, 2024 – During 2023, Galenika recorded a strategic expansion of the portfolio of products, increased the number of international certificates for quality, and further internationalization of its business. During the previous year, in Serbia and the regional markets where it operates, Galenika registered 129 products, while 77 were launched. The company has increased the number of certificates for the highest level of work and production standards and is now the holder of 18 domestic and international GMP, ISO, and HACCP certificates. In addition to Serbia, Galenika successfully operates in 20 international markets, while in 2024 it is planned to expand operations to 4 more markets in Europe and the MENA region.

As a part of Brazilian NC Group, and with a strategic partnership with Brazilian pharmaceutical leader – EMS, during 2023, Galenika successfully realized the transfer of technology for 6 products from the newer generation of ge-

neric drugs, and in 2024, preparations for the realization of technology transfer for another 6 products began.

19 MARCH 2024

Four Business Associations Strengthen Dialogue With the Customs Administration of the Republic of Serbia

On Thursday, March 14, 2024, a seminar was held in cooperation with the Customs Administration of the Republic of Serbia, focusing on legislative amendments, digitalization and e-customs, novelties in transit procedure, as well as the provision of securities in customs procedure

This significant event, organized as part of the initiative for dialogue between the business community and state institutions, brought together approximately 50 representatives of company members of business associations that organized the seminar – the Belgian-Serbian Business Association, Swiss-Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Hellenic Business Association of Serbia, and the Croatian Business Club.

19 MARCH 2024

Air Serbia Posts Profit of EUR 40.5 Million in 2023

Thanks to the introduction of over 20 new destinations, a significant increase in the total number of flights and carried passengers, and efficient operations, Air Serbia achieved a record profit of EUR 40.5 million in 2023, according to preliminary results

In this way, the Serbian national airline continued its positive business trend. It practically doubled its profit compared to the previous year, both times without a single euro of state subsidies. Air Serbia also continued to achieve positive operating and net results in 2023, and according to preliminary results, achieved revenue of EUR 627.9 million, surpassing half a billion euros in revenue for the first time since its relaunch in 2013.

40 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs 29 FEBRUARY

New Project of DHG Group in Dubai: „Helvetia Residences”

International real estate and construction company DHG has successfully launched its first project in the UAE, „Helvetia Residences” at Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC) in Dubai, with an investment worth around $200 million.

„It gives me great pleasure to present our new project Helvetia Residences. The commitment to quality and innovation, which we have developed for years in Switzerland, we are now introducing to the market of the United Arab Emirates,” said Blagoje Antić, the founder and chairman of the company, during his opening remarks at the project launch event on February 15 at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Dubai. „Our goal is to, in accordance with the company’s long-standing philosophy, offer first-class apartments at affordable prices and thereby set new standards.”

There has been a huge increase in demand for real estate in Dubai, with 68,783 sales in 2023, more than double compared to the pre-

vious year. With Dubai’s population approaching four million and set to reach around eight million by 2040, Helvetia Residences represents DHG Group’s strategic response to the lucrative Dubai market.


„The high demand for apartments within the Helvetia project exceeded all our expectations. On


Diving into the sucssesful launch of an ambitious investment

Speaking at the project’s launch event, Miloš Antić said: „We are committed to developing the already beautiful Dubai skyline with a series of projects across the city in the coming years, but it is a step-by-step journey that we are starting at the heart of JVC. Investors can be sure that they are investing in a world-class project , while end-users will feel the improved residential experience that we have demonstrated in numerous projects across Switzerland.”


the day of the project’s launch, we successfully sold as much as 20% of the available units,” points out Miloš Antić, member of the board of directors and vice president of DHG Group. Helvetia Residences is located in Jumeirah Village Circle (JVC) in Dubai and offers 430 apartments of various sizes –

from studios to one, two and three bedroom apartments – as well as all the conveniences of modern urban living. In addition to the gym and swimming pool, the building contains a restaurant, meditation room, children’s playground, running track, pharmacy and grocery store.

DHG is bringing the Swiss stamp to the UAE market through the Helvetia Residences project, strengthening its influence on the Dubai real estate market and at the same time strengthening its portfolio. To date, DHG Group’s 30-year track record includes achievements such as: delivery of over 300 projects, over 1,000 rental properties in Switzerland, construction and development of 2.5 million square meters, and over 1,000 residential units under development.


The List: People who change Belgrade


Belgrade a city with a soul, where every street and every person tells their own story. Throughout this city’s history, people have left their mark and influenced its appearance, architecture, gastronomic offer, and the habits of the people of Belgrade. But here’s the thing about being influential: it’s not for everyone. It takes a certain kind of person to stand out in a crowd and be heard. Let’s take a look at some of the men and women who have made their mark on Belgrade in a feature column by Duška Jovanić, which is out each month.

NOTE: The list is made in alphabetical order

For Danijela, Belgrade is the mood and state of consciousness, as well as the unique and recognizable feeling of volcanic energy that this extraordinary city and its people possess. Danijela Gašparac went through different life and professional phases in Belgrade, grew and developed in it and together with it. During that time, she arrived at some important points of view. At an early age, she „buzzed” so much, while exploring the magic of human existence, that despite her unrestrained spirit and gunpowder filling, she always felt she would miss out on something important. At first glance, this breezy and unrestrained girl has “tattooed” our city, while on her way to becoming an icon of nightlife. Plastic and Mint were cult clubs that she branded, as ambiguous frescoes of the typical Belgrade, with an undeniable sense that everyone in her company feels comfortable. And just when everyone thought that this was her true occupation, we were all


Mr Fashion Designer 2

„My Belgrade is packed in some virtual suitcase of memories that I carry with me, in some book that I associate with it, in some photo with the people who live in them, in some old portrait with a slightly rough frame, in some yellow bushes of the Tašmajdan park, a shady bench in Topčider and in my passport, under the place of birth entry. My Belgrade is more than an intersection or a building. Belgrade is the voice of Duško Radović wishing the city a good morning... And the smell of lilacs, when their time comes”, this is how fashion designer Igor Todorović sees Belgrade both geographically and spiritually, in contrast to his own biography, which is so extensive and rich, that it looks like an exhaustive enumeration of achievements. He studied in Rome at the prestigious high fashion academy, Koefia. As a student, he won several awards at international competitions. After returning to Belgrade, he founded the shoe brand Joshua, after which he started working in print media as the first fashion editor in the Serbian edition of

surprised by the talent of this Renaissance city girl. She was introduced to marketing for the first time during her psychology studies, only to later progress to increasingly better positions in the marketing world. There were successes, but also failures, which motivated her to continue working and improving. Danijela Gašparac is today the Head of Marketing Research/CEO Advisor at Telekom, which makes her a staple in the women in the business section which is why her mobile phone is on 24/7. However, her measure of success is definitely the rebranding of Srbija Voz. Or rather, let’s put it this way – the SOKO train is her brain. Maybe this typically English pun sounds over the top, but someone had to come up with it. Despite everything, Danijela Gašparac continues to be present all over Belgrade – you will see her at the theatre, concerts, fashion shows and the best parties because she is the guardian and catalyst of the Belgrade spirit that connects us all.

Cosmopolitan. During that period, when he was running back and forth filming and constantly carrying bags, he encountered such events that would make for a great fashion sitcom. It’s no wonder that Igor Todorović is one of the wittiest people I know. When he invites me for cakes, he discreetly warns me that he only likes „those that can make him go blind”. When he works, he turns into a top professional and dedicated person, although his lordly, old-school attitude is still very much present. I never heard him raise his voice, but neither did he lower the magic that the dresses from his Atelier spread all over the world. Mr Fashion Designer Creator was raised to respect, rather than change, to continue walking down the path that he was left as a family legacy and to bring beauty because only beauty can save the world. „Did I succeed?” he would probably ask himself, not so much because of his modesty, but because of innate elegance. The answer to this question depends on how much Belgrade listened to or understood him.

42 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs COLUMN
City girl © private archive
VOL. 12
© Miša Obradović

Lady of quiet luxury 3

“I am too poor not to live in luxury”, these are the famous words of Clare Boothe Luce, ambassador, politician and writer, who changed the colours that paint everyday life. She will always be remembered for this iconic sentence. Although it seems unreal to us, we still perceive it as a fantastic challenge to explore the paths of luxury. Ivana Laković, formerly Ukropina, is a well-known name in the Serbian media and marketing world. But here name of the game is the luxury industry. As the founder of the Luxury Integrated consulting and marketing company and the president of the Adriatic Luxury Business Association (ALBA), Ivana says that luxury today is not only about possession but about creating unforgettable moments for every customer. „Luxury is not only things, but also stories and emotions it creates”, she says in a very believable fashion, backed by her sophis-

For almost thirty years he was one of the leaders of the Serbian advertising scene, although he spent his youth as the most prominent member of the cult Belgrade band VIS Idoli. Despite this, he was and remains one of the most sought-after bachelors in our city and someone who regularly reads poetry, with the same chemical reaction in his head that pub parties create. Father Radomir, longtime president of the Basketball Association of Yugoslavia, honoured him with the surname Šaper, which denotes success in life. However, Srdjan did not realize his father’s wish to break into that field. Reading glasses and his characteristic image secured him the title of the most famous „muzzle” of the Belgrade new wave. With his appearance, he made it known that even the best can turn into rock’n’roll desperadoes overnight. Srdjan’s intellectual appearance disturbed local punks for years and his songs, while Idoli were stars, drove the rigid fellow citizens crazy. Šaper was not confused by any of this, just as he was never convinced that

ticated look of recognizable elegant glamour, which today is defined as quiet luxury. Where is Belgrade in that story? Ivana’s Belgrade is romanticized – warm, smiling and open - with just a touch of cynicism and phenomenal humour. It is the city where different worlds intersect. Can Belgrade regain its old glory and become a golden city again? „It would be quite presumptuous to claim that I’ve significantly altered Belgrade, yet I strive to nurture it, treating it as an old friend. Every action I take is aimed at honouring it and elevating it to the pedestal of European metropolises. These may seem like small steps and insignificant gestures, but I firmly believe that if we all contribute a little, our Belgrade will radiate with happiness and fulfilment. Let’s paint our Belgrade with colours of unity, laughter and progress, one brushstroke at a time”. You go, girl!

Belgrade is not her home. She was neither born nor raised in it. But Belgrade is her choice. As she says, she fought twice for Belgrade – first from Novi Sad and then from Switzerland. Belgrade is rude and encourages a geek like her to transgress. Milica Laufer is primarily referring to the transgression from the comfort zone. Belgrade’s streets and intersections can be uncomfortable for someone who lived in Vevey, a favourite Swiss town and hiding place of Audrey Hepburn and Charlie Chaplin. Living in Belgrade is often like being on a battlefield, but for Milica, giving up on it would be equal to surrendering. Although she looks and acts so fragile French, this is a strong woman with firm and unwavering feminist views. The first thing she did when she returned from her Swiss refuge was to launch Milica, an online magazine with the idea of communicating with the widest possible female audience. The magazine’s content supports strong women in the field of art, entrepreneurship and all kinds

of activism. The magazine quickly gained a reputation as a medium that encourages younger generations to make their creative ideas and voices better heard. Soon, the small book by the famous Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie „We should all be feminists”, published by Milica magazine, turned out to be the best proof that it is no longer feminine to be silent, not even to whisper. The fact that Milica Laufer is a serious activist does not prevent her from being a top artist of life - her table is always a real little feast with refined delicacies that caress the pampered palate as if they were prepared by the best chef. She is also skilled in farming as she recently made her first rosé on her family ranch in Vojvodina. We tried it at the Museum of Contemporary Art at the promotion party for the second issue of SELFI magazine, which follows and critically examines the annual female contemporary production in visual arts. Because of all that, Belgrade is still worldly!

he would remain a rocker for life. He effortlessly left rebelliousness in his youth and entered the establishment, as a marketing wizard. When he amazed Serbia with the best beer ad and slogan, he believed that he had earned the right to become a serious man. His formal biography recognizes him as an entrepreneur and the founder of the I&F Group, a leading marketing communications company in South-Eastern Europe and the Nordic region. As of a few months ago, he is no longer there. Belgrade is the only place where one stays eternally young. „It is one of those cities that exist in reality, but also in the imagination of its population. Oftentimes that city in collective imagination becomes somehow more real than the real city. Belgrade is a city of wonderful people and incomparable events, infinitely old and constantly new, different and more special than all others. I hope that I have contributed at least a little with my imagination to this kind of Belgrade in which we still sometimes live today when we are happy”.

© Marko Vulevic © Katarina Markovic MILICA LAUFER Artist of Life 4
© private archive
SRDJAN ŠAPER Marketing Wizard 5

The Stylistic Revolution of the Serbian „Special Four” in Paris

Paris Fashion Week: A look at the latest collaboration with Serbian fashion designers

Paris Fashion Week is one of the most important fashion events of the year. This year, Serbia Fashion Week got the opportunity to present its designs at PFW thanks to the long-standing Serbian-French friendship. How this collaboration came about, who was chosen to represent Serbia in Paris and how important this success is for the Serbian fashion scene are the questions we talked about with Svetlana Horvat, president of Serbia Fashion Week.

How did the collaboration with Paris Fashion Week come about? What connects Serbian and French fashion?

It is well known in the fashion world that Serbia Fashion Week was created as a result of Serbian-French friendship. SFW has been promoting French fashion designers in Eastern Europe, espe-

cially the Balkan region, for more than a decade, thanks to many friends from the fashion business in France. The top management of Serbia Fashion Week is made up of experts in the field of fashion from

Serbia and France, since its inception. Thanks to the artistic director of SFW - the French haute couture designer Eymeric Francois and the president of the competition for young talents of Europe, which is held at SFW, Mr. Donald Potard (25-year-old CEO of Jean Paul Galutier, as well as an excellent fashion critic and professor at the Sorbonne University, To Marcellous Jones), SFW has built a special and solid relationship with the French cultural and fashion scene.

Receiving the honor and being an integral part of FHCM (which is the owner of Paris Fashion Weeks) is truly a historic moment for Serbia and Serbian fashion and a huge recognition for all the work and achieved quality.


After ten years of hard and continuous work on raising the quality of Serbia Fashion Week and branding our country in the global fashion world, as well as constant work with experts from our business in France, the long-awaited result came last year!

As a result of their decision to open their doors for the first time in the history of their existence and include as part of their official program, the best fashion week in the world, during Paris Fashion Week, and under the name „Welcome to Paris”, they informed us that they have chosen two the countries of Europe, i.e. two fashion weeks that have passed their multi-year monitoring, one of which is Serbia.

Paris Fashion Week is a spectacle that is covered by numerous world media, how important is

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Serbia Fashion Week President

this collaboration for the future of the Serbian fashion scene?

We obviously did a good job last year, because this time the interest of the world media was huge.

The importance attached to our presentation is also shown by the coverage of SFW at Paris Fashion Week this year, by the state television of France - FRANCE TV, Franceinfo, BMFTV France, FORBS France, and by numerous fashion magazines and televisions, such as LOfficiel, Fashion TV .

I would like to illustrate the attention and respect we received in Paris through a few quotes, i.e. parts of the text from A NOUS PARIS:

„Forget your prejudices and prepare to be dazzled. Serbia Fashion Week passes through Paris, bringing a fresh eastern wind to the fashion capital. With designers led by Boško Jakovljević and Suzana Perić, Serbian fashion becomes not only a promise, but a style revolution ready to rule the world. What’s the message? Fashion knows no borders, and the future could be written in Cyrillic.”

This is certainly a key moment for the further development of the Serbian fashion scene and SFW, as a brand, because it definitely ranks us among the most important and influential fashion events in the world.

Can you tell us something about our „special four” of Serbian designers whose works were presented in the residence of the Spanish royal family „La Galerie Bourbon”?

About our „special four”, I would once again quote the French media:

„These designers who started with dreams bigger than their budgets are now the standard

bearers for a vision of fashion that is global and deeply rooted in their cultural identity.” They arrive in Paris not as conquerors, but

as ambassadors of a style that is bold and imbued with tradition.”

Suzana Perić with her original and innovative collection was well received by the audience and media representatives. Boško Jakovljević presented a men’s and women’s collection for Martini Vesto with fresh ideas.

The collection of Nataša Perkovski Adzić in black with luxurious pieces and hand-made details was also extremely noticeable.

How would you rate the current state of the fashion scene in Serbia?

The fashion scene in Serbia is becoming more and more productive. Hundreds of fashion studios have opened in the past few years. There is certainly no shortage of creativity and talent, but unfortunately, there is a visible lack of finance and support for the development of their products and brands.

Favorite moment from Paris Fashiwon Week?

The most beautiful moment during Paris Fashion Week is the view of the crowded media pit that lit up the runway with flashes and cameras after the Serbian designers presented themselves.




Isn’t it enough just to be in a place where God showered with blessings? Isn’t it enough to be in nature and enjoy the wonderful landscape it decides to show us at a moment’s notice?

As many as fifty national parks and an entire tourism industry live off people seeing lions, giraffes, zebras and other animals in the wild, making Kenya one of the most attractive safari destinations in the world. That wave of travellers pulled me in too. Kenya is rich and diverse enough to deserve a visit even without going on a safari, and it is good, even necessary, to contribute to saving nature through tourism, because if there were no tourists, the question is what would remain of distant wilderness - all the animals would have long since been killed and made into jewellery, clothes or ornaments for the rich around the world. At

the hotel, I didn’t need too much persuading to join the group that headed to the most important Kenyan park – Maasai Mara.

Five of us squeezed into a rickety and dilapidated minibus. As soon as you leave Nairobi, the road winds along a hill from which you can see the wilderness - plains, distant hills, with only a few buildings in sight... For six hours, we travel through magical landscapes, peeking out of the rundown vehicle to see some traces of beauty. We spend a break in a shack, cheerfully and naively painted with animals, like in a cartoon. Strange creatures roam the bushes, while a family of monkeys has found its home along the main


road. There is even a special traffic sign - „Beware of monkeys!” - since it is not uncommon for them to cause traffic accidents. A few striking white space exploration satellites flanked by cows rise from the vast bush-studded plain. It is part of the Kenyan space programme that is currently being developed. The

convenient location on the equator, next to the Indian Ocean, has been the most exploited by the Italians so far, making Kenya the only country in East Africa with a spaceport.

Along the road, battered cars are placed on high metal stands: a reminder that this is one of Kenya’s

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TRAVELOGUE by Viktor Lazić

busiest highways, where many people die every year. Our driver doesn’t care, he drives too fast, runs into curves, brakes suddenly, and the whole minibus bounces wildly on potholes and we fear that its wheels will fall off. Up to thirteen thousand people die on Kenyan roads every

year! So it’s not surprising that my friends told me that the most dangerous part of the safari was the way to it. It is a much greater risk to spend six hours bouncing around

in a tin can that tumbles down the road, than to spend six hours looking for lions in the wild.

At one point we change the vehicle, as an upgraded minibus comes to pick us up - a rickety one at least thirty years old, with the roof removed, so that most of the passengers can stand up and observe the wilderness more clearly. As soon as we entered the park, we encountered a dozen giraffes who were calmly watching us. Some sit in the bushes, others cruise around. The panorama of the plain, over which the view extends to the horizon, makes large animals easy to spot from a great distance. I can just see a wide green-yellow expanse, some trees and elegant silhouettes of animals. That’s why the locals named this whole area Mara, which means „seen, noticed”.

„When you say you’re blue-blooded, you’re actually saying you’re

constantly misses the good scenes, he gets annoyed, can hardly refrain from cursing and furiously hits the body of our vehicle with his hand, which is already battered enough. We calm him down and promise to send him our photos, which are not nearly as good as his, but at least there is something on them.

Marcus had very seriously prepared for the trip. He studied all the animals we could meet here, so he easily recognizes them and teaches his companions about them. He becomes our informal guide, while the tour guide seems to know nothing. A young man, not even twenty years old, was sent to accompany us, probably because he was someone’s relative, chosen to collect an undeserved tip.

„The goal of the safari is to see the magnificent five: leopard, lion, bison, elephant and rhino,” the guide tells us. I immediately felt

a giraffe,” Marcus jokes, and then he explains that the blood of these long-necked beauties lacks haemoglobin, which normally gives the blood a red colour, so when they’re cut, a blue liquid pours out of them. Marcus is Romanian, one of the five of us bouncing together in a metal hulk racing across the savannah. A dozen giraffes are watching our movement curiously. I thought that this vehicle that looks like a neurotic grasshopper must look comical to them from that height. The wheels roll on two goat tracks and we spring through the roof of the vehicle, taking care not to fall.

Marcus is the most impressive character in our group, a worker in a Romanian factory and an amateur photographer. He carries long lenses with him, so it seems that the camera is some kind of cannon that is about to fire. And yet, that expensive technical marvel keeps getting on his nerves. To take a good photo, depending on the distance of the animals, he has to adjust the lens or replace it entirely. This takes time. Animals in the wild are not good extras and are not willing to pose while he adjusts his camera. So he

uneasy. I realized that I had fallen on the tourist factory line, that they had placed me in a vehicle to chase these animals across the prairie, and when we reached them and took pictures, they would throw us off the line and put in new tourists.

Isn’t it enough just to be in a place where God showered with blessings? Isn’t it enough to be in nature and enjoy the wonderful landscape it decides to show us at a moment’s notice? Instead, we’ll spend three days speeding madly down disastrous roads in a claustrophobic vehicle, bouncing all the while with a ferocity enough to reshuffle our internal organs. Should we not see five species of animals declared the most attractive by who knows what criteria, because they are neither the rarest nor the largest, nor the most dangerous creatures of the local nature?! Why are crocodiles, giraffes, hippos and extremely rare birds not on that list?

„It’s a hunting term - it means the most difficult animals to hunt on foot,” Marcus explains readily and the guide is amazed, apparently hearing it for the first time. „Well,


they’re on the right track,” I thought as I watched the beautiful plain with a family of giraffes on the horizon.

We arrive at the „semi-luxury tent-hotel”, as it says at the entrance. My room is a tent pitched under a straw roof, on a concrete floor. Instead of a ceiling lamp, the skull of a horned animal is hung on the wall: through its eyes comes the light of two neon LED bulbs,

which give off a weak white light, so it seems as if I walked into a hotel from a horror movie. They tell us that lions were seen walking around the hotel the other night and that when they put us in the tents, as well as that we don’t go out until an armed escort comes to pick us up. Just in case. And now - good night, see you in the morning!

Count of Savannah and EmperorsCheetahs and Lions

We get up at the crack of dawn. That’s when the animals are most active. After a few minutes of driving, we come across a family of zebras. In the immediate vicinity, hundreds of antelope emerge from the deep grass. Their brownish-white furs spread across the yellow expanse like flowers. Bulls live in particularly large herds. They graze peacefully, although

their sharp erect horns indicate that they should not be messed with. They stand neither too close nor too far, just enough to clearly see and photograph them, with the forest, which after the warm summer rain, shimmers in the background.

lurks for its breakfast. The cheetah finally decided to chase a gazelle that was peacefully grazing in the distance. It tried to trap its prey and knock it down, but the gazelle happily ducked into the bushes. Disappointed, the gazelle waved his flamboyant tail, topped with a white strand with several black circles.

My companion Marcus comments: „When it runs, and by the way, it can jump up to seven metres high, the cheetah then flies more than it touches the ground, and it is the only cat that can change its direction in flight! Its flexible spine allows it to make sudden movements even at the highest speeds and it uses its long tail like a steering wheel. While rushing head-


Between two bushes as tall as trees, a cheetah passes like a count of the savannah. The fastest land animal, faster than many cars, which can reach a speed of almost 130km per hour in just three seconds, ignored us. Its lithe body and characteristic fur, with two to three thousand black dots, fit perfectly into the golden expanse of the savannah, where this predator

one to understand it, cheer it up or at least leave it alone.

long, it can suddenly jump to the side, but also, due to great acceleration, dig into the place! Still, all that doesn’t guarantee cheetah a meal… Half of its attempts to catch prey will fail. And while running, its body gets so hot that its insides would boil if it kept running at the same speed! That’s why its hunt lasts half a minute to a minute and if it survives that long, the prey will usually manage to escape because afterwards, the cheetah has to rest for half an hour. It gets so exhausted that its catch and even its cubs are often stolen by other animals, primarily lions, baboons and hyenas. Life is good at playing games - you are the fastest, it seems that God has given you everything, and yet it is not easy for you to survive”.

The cheetah we follow seems resigned to fate. It is a real loner, with black streaks running from its eyes down its cheeks like tears. It seems to be alone in the world with its empty stomach and no

„The fact that it is alone means that it is a female since males are social and always live and hunt in groups,” Marcus teaches us and adds that cheetahs are very endangered, that there are now only between seven and twelve thousand of them in Africa, while a hundred years ago it was about a hundred thousand. The oldest cheetah fossil is between one million and two million years old. They are, in the full sense of the word, natives here.

Then we hear the radio: „A lion at such and such a location, a lion at such and such a location, a lion at such and such a location...”, someone repeats. Our driver signals for us to sit down, accelerates and races like Fangio over potholes, ponds, rocks and grass. We throw ourselves around the vehicle, hit our heads on the bodywork, fall out of our seats and barely get back on them and hold on with all our strength to whatever we can. After a few minutes, we saw seven or eight lions and a vehicle with passengers already observing them.

Not even five minutes had passed and vehicles flying from all sides appeared on the horizon. Everyone

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rushes like crazy. The tin cans are bouncing on the uneven ground, just about to tip over. Suddenly, a semicircle formed around the lions of about fifteen vans and about a hundred tourists who stuck their heads out through the openings in the roofs. The click of a camera echoes.

„It is very important for tourists to see the magnificent or the big five, as some call them, and especial-

ly the lion, otherwise they will not be satisfied, they may even ask for their money back! And who is going to locate them every day on this vast expanse of 1,510 square kilometres?! Some animals live in certain regions and some are constantly moving. Tracking them down just when the tourists are here is not an easy task at all. That’s why we have an agreement that each vehicle informs the others via radio when it encounters the big five animals,” explains our driver. I am suddenly overcome with uneasiness. The vast wilderness that I came to from the other side of the planet seemed to me like a big zoo, where one could observe, with equal interest and sadness, animals that are only apparently completely free and people who behave like this.

The lions seem to be unfazed by anything, as they are used to everything already and completely ignore the rush of tourists from all over the world. About six hundred of them live in this park. The father of the family went to sleep and the lionesses are playing with their mother. It is a well-known fact that the kings of the animal world like to sleep and mate the most. They spend up to twenty hours a day sleeping and when they are mating, they usually do it two or three hundred times in a row, during several days, when they will neither eat nor hunt. Furthermore, females only ovulate when they are stimulated by relentless mating!

The Lion King opened his eyes and looked directly at us. The cameras were still clicking, but it was impossible to look him in the eye without feeling fearful. He raised


his proud head and rose from the grass, his mane was blowing in the wind and he was yawning. The guide, who knows nothing about lions, recalls when a lioness would jump on curious onlookers, pull one out of the car and serve it to the lion for a snack. He found the right moment to tell us: we were photographing the magnificent wild beasts through the roof of the car, only a few metres away from their dangerous jaws.

The lioness approaches the elder lion humbly, heads lowered almost to the ground, resembling slaves approaching the emperor on their knees. A little further on, the lionesses are making a mess. The mother licks them and checks that they are free of fleas. They are restless, bite each other, and caress like kittens, with only slightly sharper teeth and claws. At one point, the mother puts her paw over them, so they try to reach out and bite her: it seems like practice for some more serious moments in life. They

stretch and roll, enjoying the grass and water, with their caring mother and hundreds of tourists who keep filming them. One lioness looks at us like we would be good to lunch on and licks herself; frankly, the truth is that it would be easier to catch any of us than a gazelle. By the way, male lions do not hunt, females do, and males will help them only if the prey is particularly large and belligerent.

The sunset makes a sharp contrast between the earth and the sky. The ground is covered in darkness, only a few bushes or trees emerge from the dark plain and form contours in the vast wide sky full of bright colours. Lions are still in front of us, lying on the grass like the tamest cats. The sun, a glowing ball in the distance, sets below the horizon just below the crown of a tree and appears smaller than it. Everything on earth seems like a set of toys arranged in some higher order, under the command of the high bright sky.


Great Carnival Parade

The Croatian Cultural And Educational Society Jelačić from Petrovaradin and the Association of Citizens Petrovaradin Media restored the tradition and brought Novi Sad to a great tourist event - „Petrovaradin Carnival.”

The central event was the „Great Carnival Parade,” which started at the Church of St. George in Petrovaradin. The masquerade gathered orchestras, majorettes, and troupes from Vojvodina and the region, and citizens whose carnival customs attracted attention joined the gathering.

At the opening of this year’s program, the guests and the media were addressed by Tomislav Žigmanov, Minister for Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, Aleksandar Petrović, As-

The masquerade gathered orchestras, majorettes, and troupes from Vojvodina and the region

„In this way, by combining the tradition of multicultural politics in Novi Sad, through integration with the tourist offer, I think a combination of all that is good has been made,” said Tomislav Žigmanov, minister for human and minority rights.

„In 2022, Novi Sad was the European Capital of Culture; 2019 was the European Youth Capital. We were proud of these prestigious titles, but not only that, but Novi Sad is also a city of festivals and a city of carnival”, says Aleksandar Petrović, assistant mayor of Novi Sad.


50 www.diplomacyandcommerce.rs CMC EVENTS
sistant Mayor of Novi Sad, Goran Kaurić, Deputy Provincial Secretary for Culture, Public Information and Relations with Religious Communities and Mirko Turšić, President of HKPD „Jelačić.”

„I had the opportunity to read in the archives of Novi Sad newspaper reports from the 1930s describing columns of citizens of Novi Sad who crossed the bridge to participate in such an event, and here it is slowly returning,” said Goran Kauric, Deputy Provincial Secretary for Culture, Public Information and Relations with Religious Communities.

„The point of the whole story is for people to be today what they are not during the year. That’s what a man needs to get out of himself, whether with imagination,

humor, song, or dance. That’s something he needs to show today under a mask,” says Mirko Tursic, president of HKPD Jelacic. As part of the music program of the event, a performance of the „Cocktail Band” was held, and the event offered numerous exhibitions, performances, and workshops for children during ten fes-

tival days at several places in the city.

It was the second edition of the renowned Petrovaradin Carnival after a break of eight decades. The Petrovaradin Carnival will apply for entry into the Federation of European Carnival Cities, and the foundation for membership is precisely its maintenance, which began in the thirties of the last century.






Under the slogan IMPECCABLE DIFFERENCES, one of the most important European dance festivals announces its 21st edition. From March 9 to April 10, 2024, a total of 19 companies from 14 countries, with over 30 new choreographic settings, will be presented in Belgrade and Novi Sad.

Top artists and great bands will gather, open up important topics that analyze contemporary society through

an interesting and varied movement vocabulary, create moments that have the power to change the world and trigger the most beautiful emotions.




„Belgrade Spring” will again this year in „MTS Dvorana” arouse great interest from unestablished authors, but also from well-known musical names. The competition for submitted compositions lasts from

February 26 to March 15. The compositions will be awarded in the following categories: „Best Composition”, „Best Text”, „Best Arrangement” and „Best Interpretation”.



The ambitions and perseverance of the Šabac Theater in organizing one of the most important festivals in our country are worthy of praise. The eighth edition of this manifestation speaks in support of the thesis that the Theater Spring has become a constant in viewing the artistic achievements in the performances of Serbian theaters. The idea of staging aesthetically relevant performances in Šabac over the course of a few days is a logical continuation of a rich festival tradition, established back in the days of the former Yugoslavia. The selection cycle included the viewing of about thirty plays in the period from February 2023 to the end of January 2024. The general impression is that, with the diversity of genres and styles, the appearance of several inventive, talented and imaginative directors and authors of the younger generation, interesting research in the field of theatrical expression and numerous brilliant acting achievements, we can talk about a relatively successful year in domestic theaters.

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Photo © Miša Obradović

On 13 February 2024, in Novi Sad, Professor Dr Teodor Kovač died at the age of 101. He was the oldest endocrinologist in Europe, a top expert whose bust had been placed in the Pasteur Institute in Novi Sad already during his lifetime. His extremely rich biography is only part of what he will be remembered for by generations of students and patients, members of the Jewish community of which he was the president, but also the students who listened to him every January 27, when he would visit schools to give a lecture about the Holocaust which, unlike his entire family, he had survived. His mother perished along with thousands of other Jewish women in the Staro Sajmište camp, his father was shot in the Topovske Šupe camp, and his grandmother disappeared in the smoke of Auschwitz. He and his older brother were saved from the deportation of Banat Jews because they attended the grammar school in Novi Sad, so they were arrested in 1941, right after graduation. While being arrested, he shouted: „I didn’t run away, call the school!” That is also the title of his life story in my book „A Letter on the Rails”, which was published in 2021. I felt great anxiety and responsibility while writing it, checking all the details of his life a hundred times, about how their father’s intern had denounced them to the Hungarian army. That same woman appeared

in his department as a patient after the war. I will never forget the sentence he uttered, recounting his life: „Not with a single eye movement did I let her know that I had recognised her. She is now old, sick, and my patient.”

Of course, she had also recognised him and left the hospital at her own risk that same evening. He just said: „She is a free woman, she can go wherever she wants...” That is what our professor Kovač was like. He called me one day before the book was due to be published and said he didn’t like my story

Teodor Kovač (1923-2024)

I didn’t run away, call the school!
The oldest endocrinologist in Vojvodina and a Holocaust survivor died at the age of 101

about him and didn’t want me to publish it. I would have respected any decision of his, but I was interested in the reason why, what wasn’t correct, and what wasn’t well written. I somehow managed to get an answer, which was much like himself: „I feel uncomfortable. You described me so very nicely.”

I attended his 100th birthday. While we, the guests, were eating a cake with the three-digit number on it, the birthday boy entertained the audience, microphone in hand: „Dear friends, I am sorry that you are wasting your precious time on

me, who was also ordered to appear here, because the older I get, the less I am in charge of my free time... Journalists call me all day long and ask the same thing – how did you manage to live to be this old? The answer is simple – I don’t know!”

I spoke to him about ten days before they informed me that he had died. I know exactly what he thought of his longevity and the loneliness it had brought him. I did not attend the funeral, but my students did. That day, by chance, if such a thing exists, I was passing through Novi Kneževac, his native village. He once told me that from there, on a clear day, you can see the towers of Szeged’s churches in the distance. He told me about a stone there, on which he sat when a soldier had beaten him in prison, and how he would always return to that stone, to stroke it and give thanks. With all those images in my mind, I passed through Novi Kneževac and said goodbye to our dear professor.

There is no one left in this world who will kiss my hand and call me Madam Professor.

I thank him for everything.

The author is a professor at Jovan Jovanović Zmaj Grammar School in Novi Sad and a civic activist

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