Joint press conference

with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucić

  • 08 Oct. 2018 -
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  • Mis à jour le: 08 Oct. 2018 11:22

(As delivered)

Dobar Dan.

It’s really great to be back in Serbia. And President Vucic,  my friend Aleksandar, it’s great to meet you again. And I think today, we have really shown that Serbia and NATO we are strengthening our partnership. We started our partnership in 2006. And it has grown stronger and stronger and today we opened the biggest NATO Civil Emergency Exercise ever, with around 2000 personnel participating in this exercise. And you just mentioned this exercise is important because it is a way to strengthen our capabilities, our readiness to respond to natural disasters, earthquakes, fires, wild fires, and flooding and other types of natural disasters.

And it also shows how we are working together in developing new technologies, artificial intelligence, better ways to communicate, command and control, and also other kinds of technologies which will strengthen our ability to deal with natural disasters.

So therefore it is really a great pleasure to be here today, together with you and to highlight how NATO and Serbia are strengthening our close cooperation and our close partnership.

This is not a military exercise. As NATO is not only a military alliance. But a civilian exercise to deal with disasters. And save lives.

Unfortunately, we have seen such disasters in the past in this region. And we can all benefit by working together. And that is exactly what our partnership is about.

I realise that NATO remains controversial in Serbia. The memories of the air campaign in 1999 are still painful for many. Especially for those who lost their loved ones. The campaign was never against the Serbian people. It was to protect civilians in the wider region. Each innocent life lost was a tragedy which I deeply regret.  I offer my condolences to the families and to all those who lost loved ones on both sides of the conflict.  We must never forget the past. But we can move beyond it. And that is what NATO and Serbia are doing with our partnership. Looking towards a better future.

Across the Western Balkans, NATO has just one overriding objective: to help build peace and stability, which are the foundations of prosperity. 

Today, NATO Allies are the biggest investors in the region. Helping to bring jobs and economic growth. And we are impressed by the economic growth in Serbia, and the way you are implementing reforms.

Some countries from the region have joined NATO. Some aspire to join the Alliance.  Serbia does not aspire to join NATO. NATO fully respects your neutrality.  And we welcome that you have chosen the path of partnership with NATO. Our partnership benefits both Serbia and NATO. NATO has helped to destroy large quantities of landmines, ammunition, and light weapons. We have funded the training of thousands of former defence personnel to start small businesses. Our scientists work together on projects ranging from biofuel to advanced robotics. And Serbia has helped train medical experts from Iraq as part of NATO’s defence capacity building programs.

At the same time, our KFOR mission keeps a safe and secure environment in Kosovo, in line with our United Nations mandate. And let me be clear. That means providing a safe and secure environment for all communities, including the Serbs. NATO fully supports the normalisation process between Belgrade and Pristina. The Belgrade-Pristina dialogue is the best platform to find a solution that respects the rights of all communities. Dialogue is key for stability in the region.

So Mr. President, as you know, I have very fond memories of my childhood here in Serbia. And even after so many decades, it is always a pleasure to come back to Belgrade. My visit shows the strength of our partnership. And our exercise shows how we can do together, building a stronger and better future. So let me once again thank you for your hospitality and for Serbia’s contributions to our shared security.

Thank you.

  1. La Turquie reconnaît la République de Macédoine sous son nom constitutionnel.