India-Serbia Bilateral relations

India-Serbia Bilateral relations

Political Relations

India and Serbia (formerly Yugoslavia) have traditionally enjoyed deep friendship as co-founders of the Non-Aligned Movement. Despite the breakup of former Yugoslavia, the tradition of mutual support on issues of core interest continues. There are no outstanding or unresolved bilateral issues. India does not recognize Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) by Kosovo and is of the view that the Kosovo issue should be resolved peacefully through dialogue between the concerned parties. In line with its policy, India has consistently opposed Kosovo's membership of various international bodies. Serbia has consistently supported India in multilateral fora including India’s candidatures to various international organizations. Serbian leadership condemned the Uri terror attacks and expressed solidarity with India in the fight against terrorism.

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic visited India from 9-12 January, 2017 to attend the Vibrant Gujarat Summit (VGS) and held bilateral discussions with Prime Minister Modi. This was the first visit at this level from Belgrade in 30 years. The official delegation level talks were held in a very warm and friendly atmosphere where both sides reviewed bilateral relations. PM Vucic reiterated support for India’s aspiration for a permanent seat of the UNSC and the membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). PM Vucic invited PM Modi to visit Serbia. Both sides agreed on the need to promote cooperation in the field of food production, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, defence industry, tourism and IT. In Ahmedabad, Prime Minister Vucic addressed the Plenary of the VGS and also met the Chief Minister of Gujarat and the President of FICCI. During his visit to Mumbai, he addressed CEOs Forum, met the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and opened the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE). PM Vucic separately met Mr. Anand Mahindra, President, Mahindra Group and discussed the possibilities of investments by his group in Serbia. A business delegation accompanied the Serbian Prime Minister.

MOS (PMO) Dr. Jitendra Singh visited Serbia from 12-16 October, 2016 and met PM Aleksandar Vucic, Speaker Maja Gojkovic, First DPM & FM Ivica Dacic, DPM and Minister of Trade, Tourism & Telecommunications, Rasim Ljajic and Minister of Agriculture & Environmental Protection Branislav Nedimovic. MOU on Cooperation in the field of IT & Electronics was signed. A roundtable was held with professionals and businessmen. MOS (PMO) addressed the Serbian civil society at the Gandhi Jayanti and International Day of Non-Violence event at Gandhi Street in New Belgrade.

Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister & Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and Speaker, National Assembly, Ms Maja Gojkovic, have standing invitations to visit India. On the sidelines of 71st UNGA, Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar met First DPM & FM Ivica Dacic during which the Serbian side conveyed gratitude for India's consistent support on the Kosovo issue.

Serbia co-sponsored India’s Resolutions at UN for declaring October 2 as International Day of Non-Violence and June 21 as International Day of Yoga. Serbia has consistently supported India's international role and votes in favour of India's candidatures at the UN and other fora. A list of recent candidatures supported by Serbia is given below:

  • Non-Permanent Membership of UNSC (2011-12)
  • CAG's appointment as External Auditor of IAEA (2011)
  • Re-election to the UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD - 2011)
  • Election to the International Court of Justice (2012)
  • Re-election to the Council of Administrations & the Postal Operations Council of Universal Postal Union (2012)
  • Re-election to the Council of Int'l Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Part-II (2013)
  • Re-election to the International Law Commission (2012-16)
  • Election to ICAO (2013)
  • Position in the UN Board of Auditors (2014-20)
  • Election to the Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural heritage (2014-2018)
  • Election to the Human Rights Council (2015-17)
  • Election to the Council of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) (2015-18)
  • Post of Director (Capacity Building) at the World Customs Organization (2015 - the Indian candidate did not win)
  • Re-election to the Council of International Maritime Organization (IMO) in Category B (2015)
  • Election to the International Law Commission for the term 2017-2021
  • Re-election to United Nations Joint Inspection Unit (UN-JIU) for the term 2018-2022
  • Re-election to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)
  • Re-election to the Postal Union Council (POC) of the Universal Postal Union (UPU)
  • Non-Permanent Membership of UNSC (2021-22)

MOU on Cooperation in the field of IT & Electronics was signed in October 2016. MOU on Cooperation in the fields of Culture, Arts, Youth, Sports & Mass Media is ready for signatures. Revised text of the Air Services Agreement has been recently finalized to improve air connectivity. MOUs on Agriculture and Science & Technology are in the process of implementation. Other existing agreements include Bilateral Investment Promotion & Protection Agreement (BIPPA), Double Taxation Avoidance Convention (DTAC) & Trade Agreement (MFN status). All working group meetings have been held.

Around 140 Serbian ITEC-trainees have undergone training in India including in IT, telecommunications, WTO, English language, SMEs, management, finance, textiles, rural development, environment, etc. Serbia has been allocated 25 slots for 2016-17.

Indian passport holders with valid Schengen/UK/US visas are allowed visa free entry into Serbia for 90 days. India’s e-Tourist Visa (eTV) facility is gaining popularity and over 500 Serbian nationals have utilized the facility till date. The numbers of Serbian tourists to India registered 26% year on growth in 2016.

Economic & Commercial Relations

In 2016, bilateral trade between India and Serbia amounted to US$ 142.7 m with Indian exports at US$ 133.3 m and imports at US$ 9.4 million.

Indian investments in Serbia are as follows:

  • Bangalore’s Embassy Group has invested Euro 15 m (USD 20 m) in developing an IT Park in Indjija, near Belgrade.
  • Punjab’s Sonalika established an assembly line of tractors under the brand ‘Solis’ in Boljevac, Serbia in collaboration with the Serbian company FPM Agromehanika AD. Mahindra Tractors have an assembly line through Serbian company Agropanonka.
  • TAFE Tractors (Amalgamations Group, Chennai) are sold in Serbia and the Balkans.
  • Indian pharma companies, namely, Himalaya Herbals, Panacea Biotec, HiMedia Laboratories, etc have local representatives.

The first India-Serbia Business Forum (ISBF) was launched in Belgrade on 27th June 2016. Sectors such as ICT, Agriculture, Biotechnology, Textile, Film Making, Pharmaceuticals were identified as having potential for improving bilateral trade. Duty differential for Indian imports and complex registration procedures for Indian pharma products were cited as some of the hurdles. 2nd meeting of the ISBF held in Belgrade on 27th February 2017 to review the outcome of PM Vucic’s visit to India.

This was followed by the 3rd session of the India-Serbia Joint Economic Committee through video conferencing on 10th March 2017 where the two sides examined and discussed the status of bilateral economic cooperation including trade & investment, agriculture & food processing, energy, mining, S&T, IT & electronics, civil aviation, health, pharmaceuticals, tourism, film making, youth affairs & sports etc. Both sides expressed readiness to find ways and means for further development of bilateral economic cooperation.

Mr Sava Savic, Assistant Minister for ICT Sector in Ministry of Trade, Tourism & Telecommunications represented Serbia at the India-Europe29 Business Forum held at New Delhi in December 2016. Dr.Vladimir Miklic Serbian Seed Expert attended Global Rajasthan Agritech Meet (GRAM 2016) as an Expert Speaker.

Serbian companies participated in Indian trade fairs such as AeroIndia, Defexpo, India Engineering Sourcing Show (IESS), Homexpo India, India International Handwoven Fair (IIHF), International Pharma Expo (IPHEX), Global Exhibition on Tourism (GET) India, Global Exhibition on Services (GES), Indian Fashion Jewellery & Accessories Show (IFJAS), INDIASOFT, NASSCOM India Leadership Forum 2016, Indian Carpet Expo 2016, India Shoe & Accessories Forum (ISAF 2016), IHGF Fair, Vibrant Ceramics Expo & Summit 2016. Mission participated in local and regional fairs in Serbia including Tourism Fair, Book Fair, Agriculture Fair, Auteur Film Festival, etc.

Cultural Relations

Serbia co-sponsored India’s Resolutions at UN for declaring October 2 as International Day of Non-Violence and June 21 as International Day of Yoga. Serbia is a culturally vibrant country with high respect for Indian culture and heritage. The recent initiatives include: (i) Course on cultural history of India in University of Belgrade; (ii) ICCR Hindi Chair at University of Novi Sad; (iii) Permanent exhibition of Chandigarh’s Rock Garden at the museum of Naive and Marginal Arts at Jagodina; (iv) AYUSH Information Cell in the Embassy; (v) Festival of India; (vi) International Ayurveda Symposium, Belgrade. The 2nd International Day of yoga (IDY) on June 19, 2016 at the ramparts of the National Assembly of Serbia was graced by H.E. Ms. Tamara Vučić, wife of Serbian PM.

In recent years, Embassy's initiatives in public diplomacy have included participation in:

  1. Belgrade International Book Fair;
  2. Belgrade International Tourism Fair (Incredible India);
  3. Belgrade Fashion Week (Manish Arora);
  4. Belgrade Design Week (Satya Sheel); and
  5. Auteur Film Festival (‘Court’ & ’The Fourth Direction’).

ICCR’s cultural groups continue to be popular in Serbia and recent performances include:

  • Kathak Dance Group led by Ms. Rujuta Soman Amogh (2014)
  • Rajasthani Puppet Group led by Mr Vinod Bhatt (2014)
  • Fusion Band ’East India Company’ led by Mr Angaraag Mahanta-Papon( 2014)
  • Rudra Veena group led by Dr Jayanta Kumar Das (2015)
  • Katkatha’ Puppet Group (2015)
  • “Laya‚Taal‚ Samvaad ” Indian percussion group led by Pandit Sadanand Naimpalli (2015)
  • Bharatnatyam group led by Ms Jyotsana Jagannathan (2015)
  • Guitar group led by Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt for Guitar Art Festival 2016 (Mar 2016)
  • Stree Shakti’ percussion band led by Ms Anuradha Pal (Mar 2016)
  • Dance Workshop by Manasi in 23rd Int’l Children’s Theatre Festival (Sept 2016)
  • India @ 70 concert “Kadamb Kathak” of Kumudini Lakhia (Sept 2016)

Recent Indian exhibitions held in Serbia include:

  • Saree Exhibition and Saree Fashion Show at Ethnographic Museum, Belgrade (2014)
  • ICCR exhibition "Temple, Forts and Palaces- 2000 Years of Indian Architecture" by Dr Saryu Doshi at National Bank of Serbia, Belgrade (2015)
  • ‘Digital Prints of Artworks by Rabindranath Tagore’ at National Library of Serbia in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Zrenjanin (2015)
  • Exhibition on INDIASERBIA Photography Contest 2014 showcasing 25 prize winning entries each from India and Serbia at Museum of Applied Arts (2015)
  • 2nd IDY Exhibition of Yoga asanas at Novi Sad University (2016)
  • Permanent exhibition of Nek Chand’s Chandigarh Rock Garden at Jagodina Museum (2016) Incredible India exhibition at Tourism Fair (2017)

Indian books have been gifted to National Library; National Assembly; Belgrade City Library; Universities of Belgrade; University of Novi Sad; University of Nis; Belgrade 8th Gymnasium School; Milutin Bojic Library; Kreativno Pero School; Zrenjanin Cultural Centre; Dositej Obradovic School, Pozarevac; etc. Hindi Diwas, Ambedkar Jayanti and Sardar Patel Jayanti are commemorated through local universities, schools, organizations and media.

Yoga, Ayurveda and Homeopathy are recognized in Serbian law. Recent initiatives are:

  • Workshop on “Traditional Medicine – Goals & Challenges” in the Serbian Ministry of Health (2015).
  • Training of three Serbian medical doctors specializing in Yoga, Ayurveda & Homeopathy in AYUSH institutions for clinical application of Indian traditional medicines in primary health care centers of Serbia (2015-16).
  • International Ayurveda Symposium in Belgrade jointly organized by the Serbian Association for Ayurveda, Serbian Society for Public Health, “Maharishi College for Perfect Health” and Vanoushadhi Vidhya Peeth, India (2016).
  • IDY celebrations across Serbia in cooperation with the Serbian government and the UN followed by Yoga and Ayurveda workshops.
  • Free consultations on Ayurveda organized at the International Tourism Fair of Belgrade (2016/2017).
  • Establishment of an AYUSH Information Cell (2017).
  • ‘Padma Shri’ conferred on Mr Predrag K Nikic, President of the Yoga Federation of Serbia (2016)
  • Commissioning of special video “Yoga from the rooftops of Serbia" (2015).
  • 24-page special supplement on Yoga in CorD (2015).

India receives positive coverage in Serbian print media. Special supplements on India are regularly published. The national broadcaster Radio & Television of Serbia (RTS) regularly telecasts Indian documentaries. Indian film shootings have commenced in Serbia. First India-Serbia joint production ‘Dev Bhoomi’ by renowned Serbian Director Goran Paskaljevic was shot in Uttaranchal with Indian starcast. There are no resident correspondents in India or Serbia.

Indian Community

There are only a handful of NRIs/PIOs in Serbia. There is no Indian community association.

Embassy of India‚ Belgrade : https://eoibelgrade.gov.in

Embassy of India - Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/IndiaInSerbia

Embassy of India - Twitter :https://twitter.com/IndiaInSerbia

Monthly India Newsletter : https://www.eoibelgrade.gov.in/pages.php?id=56


April 2017

 
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