In challenging circumstances, we need to make sure that we do not suffer “when elephants fight”
Selakovic also stated that in the complex, challenging relations and circumstances characterizing the world today, the main task of Serbia was to protect itself and ensure a secure future for its citizens.
"This is not easy to achieve today, because there are many political hotspots, and we need to be aware of the Indian proverb that says 'when elephants fight, it is the grass suffers' and we must not allow ourselves to suffer in any of those situations", Selakovic emphasized in an interview with Tanjug.
Asked how much the changes in EU member states, such as Angela Merkel leaving the post of the German Chancellor after 16 years or the upcoming presidential elections in France, could affect Serbia's European integration, Selakovic said that they would certainly impact it to some extent, but that time would tell how much exactly.
However, he noted that there would be no change as to the fact that Germany is the economic engine of EU development, and that France is the only permanent member of the UN Security Council among EU countries as well as the only nuclear power.
"These are the constants, and whether others will strengthen in the meantime, we will see... What is important for us is to focus on issues that are up to us. We have focused on implementing internal reforms and that, alongside the foreign policy efforts, has been valorized", he added.
He said that everyone wanted to cooperate with Serbia which is a safe destination for investments, because that meant that Serbia was stable, legally regulated, predictable, reliable, that it was developing infrastructure, keeping its word and well-aware of its goals, while also preserving and promoting its traditional friendships.
"Everyone wants to cooperate with such a Serbia, and the EU will want such a Serbia within its framework more and more. Can changes in the governments of the member states lead to a change of attitude towards us? That is not ruled out, but the EU itself is facing challenges within its own framework and needs to deal with them", said Selakovic.
He pointed out that it was in our interest for the Union to overcome these challenges as soon as possible and that he was not saying that as someone "enamoured of the EU", which he never was, but instead stressed that the EU was the most organized type of society, that a large number of Serbian citizens went to live in the countries of the Union, that 67 percent of our trade and economic exchange was achieved with the EU, and that four of Serbia's eight neighbours were EU member states.
He stated that it was crucial for Serbia to first and foremost rely on its own position in pursuing foreign policy, which meant that we are a country that saw European integration as its path, while jealously guarding its traditional friendships, such as those with Russia and China, and enhancing relations with the United States.
The Minister reminded that in October 2021, Belgrade hosted the Summit which marked six decades since the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement, which brought together 120 delegations, including the President of the UN General Assembly and 42 ministers, including 37 foreign ministers.
"This is something that shows the degree to which Serbia's reputation in the world has been strengthened, its high level, and the friends we have – and we have many", he emphasized.
Selakovic underlined that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had a lot to do in 2022, and what had already been done, and which had yet to show its purpose, was the establishment of an economic diplomacy sector, as a result of which every diplomatic and consular mission of Serbia would be the first "contact point" for foreign investment.
As one of the greatest results of Serbia, he cited that the country, in addition to economic progress during the crisis of the coronavirus pandemic, remained a sovereign, independent state which made the decisions concerning its future and the lives of all its citizens on its own.
"This is not common in Europe and the world today, and it is the result of a serious policy that President Aleksandar Vucic began to pursue as Prime Minister and pursues today as President of the Republic, and which followed naturally from everything that was done in Serbia on the strengthening of our state system", stated Selakovic and added that Serbia also showed seriousness during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He reminded that Serbia provided vaccines to countries in the region and friendly countries across the globe, and thus demonstrated the essence of its policy - we cannot say that we are well when it is only us doing well, but when those who live next to us are doing well, too.
As the culmination of that "story", Selakovic pointed out the beginning of the production of a vaccine at the "Torlak" Institute, but also building a vaccine production factory, which was expected in early 2022.
"When you look at how many countries in the world have managed to do so and that Serbia is one of them, that is just fantastic", said Selakovic, adding that Serbia managed to suppress all the consequences of Covid-19 at the economic level and that it recorded a 7.5 percent growth.
Selakovic stated that for all the steps taken by the state, from Vucic’s “Open Balkan” initiative, to the fact that the EU recognized the serious efforts made to reform the society by opening Cluster 4, our country, leadership, but above all, citizens deserved every praise.
He added that Serbs suffered a lot in the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia and in the 2000s as a result of a failed ownership transformation and a disastrous transition, stating that we had enough of suffering and that we should not embark on such adventures again.
"I am not saying that someone did so deliberately, but we should learn from our own and others' mistakes and be a promoter of what is called a policy of peace, resolving all kinds of challenges, conflicts and risks through dialogue, by peaceful diplomatic means, and rely on what is certain - the clearly prescribed rules of public international law in relations with states, the pillar of which is the respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty", Selakovic said.