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 consultation and 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.
After the formation of the new Serbian government on August 11‚ 2016‚ Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic‚ First Deputy Prime Minister & Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic‚ and Speaker‚ National Assembly‚ Ms Maja Gojkovic‚ were extended formal invitations to visit India. On the sidelines of 71st UNGA‚ Minister of State for External Affairs M.J. Akbar met Serbian First Deputy Prime Minister & Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic during which the Serbian side conveyed gratitude for India’;s consistent support on the Kosovo issue. Serbian leadership condemned the Uri terror attacks and expressed solidarity with India in the fight against terrorism.
MOS (PMO) Dr. Jitendra Singh visited Serbia from 12-16 October 2016 and met top Serbian leadership‚ including 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.
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:
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. The existing agreements include Bilateral Investment Promotion & Protection Agreement (BIPPA - under revision)‚ 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 Schengen/UK/US visas are now allowed visa free entry into Serbia for 90 days to boost business and tourism. India has extended e-Tourist Visa (eTV) facility which is gaining popularity and over 250 Serbian nationals have utilized the facility this year. The number of Serbian tourists registered 20% year on growth in 2016.
Economic & Commercial Relations
In 2015‚ bilateral trade between India and Serbia amounted to US$ 145.6 million with Indian exports at US$ 140.0 million and imports at US$ 5.6 million. Indian investments in Serbia are as follows:
The first India-Serbia Business Forum was launched in Belgrade on 27th June 2016. Sectors such as ICT‚ Agriculture‚ Biotechnology‚ Textile‚ Film Making‚ Pharmaceuticals were identified as having immediate 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. In a study by Deloitte (Serbia)‚ sectors of opportunity identified for Indian companies are chemical industry‚ agri-machinery industry‚ pharma‚ transportation‚ agriculture‚ mining and textile.
Business visas to Serbian companies have grown by 22%. Serbian companies regularly participate 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‚ Indian Fashion Jewellery & Accessories Show (IFJAS)‚ INDIASOFT. Mission participates in local and regional fairs in Serbia including Tourism Fair‚ Book Fair‚ Agriculture Fair‚ Auteur Film Festival‚ etc.
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 (2016); (iv) AYUSH Information Cell in the Embassy; (v) Festival of India (2017); (vi) Deputation of ’Tabla’ teacher; (vii) International Ayurveda Symposium‚ Belgrade (May 2016). 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 Vu?i?‚ wife of Serbian PM.
In recent years‚ Embassy’s initiatives in public diplomacy have included participation in:
Indian cultural groups continue to be popular in Serbia and recent performances include:
Recent Indian exhibitions held in Serbia include:
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; etc. (2015‚ 2016). Hindi Diwas‚ Ambedkar Jayanti and Sardar Patel Jayanti are commemorated through local universities‚ schools and organizations.
Yoga‚ Ayurveda and Homeopathy are recognized in Serbian law. Recent initiatives are:
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. Local TV channels telecast Indian TV Serials and of late‚ a local channel PRVA TV has started telecast of Bollywood movies. Indian film shootings have commenced in Serbia. First India-Serbia joint production ‘Dev Bhoomi’ by Serbian Director Goran Paskaljevic was shot in Uttaranchal. There are no resident correspondents in India or Serbia.
There are only a handful of NRIs/PIOs in Serbia. There is no Indian community association.
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