In the framework of the programme for revitalisation and enhancement of the Institute’s role among the professional and general public, designed by the Director of the Institute of International Politics and Economics, Ms Edita Stojić Karanović and adopted by the IIPE Management Board, an international conference on the foreign policy strategy of Serbia was held. The conference named “Elements of Serbia’s foreign policy strategy - Political and economic aspects” was held on 28th and 29th May in the IIPE premises, supported by the Ministry of Science and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia. The topic of the conference was selected from the macro-project of the Institute of International Politics and Economics in the Ministry of Science of the Republic of Serbia (record no 149002d), in line with the contract that formalises the cooperation between the IIPE and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia.
The aim of the conference was to initiate an expert debate that would precede the adoption of Serbia’s foreign policy strategy.
The following members of the Conference Programme Council have been nominated by the Scientific Board:
The Organisational Board was composed of:
Dragan Đukanović, Ph.D., Scientific Assistant at IIPE
Ivana Petrović Popović. M.A., Research Assistant at IIPE
Slobodan Janković, M.A., Research Assistant at IIPE
The coordination between the Programme Council and the Organisational Board was ensured by Ms Edita Stojić Karanović, Ph.D.
The Conference consisted of seven panel discussions:
Wednesday, 28th May
Panel 1 – Basic Elements of Serbia's Foreign Policy Strategy;
Panel 2 – Serbia and Europe (EU);
Panel 3 – Serbia and Regional Cooperation;
Panel 4 - Kosovo and Metohija After the Unilateral Proclamation of Independence;
Thursday, 29th May
Panel 5 – Basic Elements of Serbia’s Foreign Economic and Financial Relations Strategy
Panel 6 – Serbia and Developing Countries
Panel 7 – The Role of Serbian Diaspora in Serbia’s Foreign Policy
А) Overcoming the recent isolation of the state and achieving international affirmation
B) Enhancing regional cooperation
C) Achieving a balanced relationship with the most powerful factors of world politics
He stressed that the achievement of these priorities has contributed to the stabilisation in the region and to the entrance of our country into the European integration process. According to him, the aim of this policy is to achieve full integration into the European Union, while simultaneously improving the relations with the big political players, most importantly Washington and Moscow, without aligning with any of the sides. The Assistant Minister stated that Serbia cannot accept violent secession of a part of its territory and that it will keep exercising its right to undertake diplomatic and legal measures and activities in order to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Ms Edita Stojić Karanović, Ph.D., Director of the Institute of International Politics and Economics provided a brief overview of the Institute’s background and current activities and announced some novices in the organisational structure of the Institute, as well as in the type of activities performed. The Director reminded the participants of the 60th anniversary of establishing the Institute of International Politics and Economics that was marked last year. She presented the significance of the IIPE library, which is also a depository library of the European Union and which plans to mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Library of the European Communities.
23 presenters participated in the work of the conference panels.
Panel 1: Basic Elements of Serbia's Foreign Policy Strategy, was facilitated by Prof. Ivo Visković, who was also the first presenter. The panel itself and the opening remarks represented an introduction into the analysis of elements necessary for development of a strategic document in the area of Serbia’s foreign policy. Prof. Visković was presenting the aims of the Serbia's foreign policy, but primarily, he presented the factors determining this policy: the international surroundings, social system, idiosyncratic and historical determinants. He specifically highlighted the issue of border demarcation not being finalised, the problem of the status of the Serbian southern province and also the change of the geopolitical position of the country.
Ambassador Branislav Milinković elaborated on Serbia’s standpoint towards the euroathlantic integration, with special regard to the Partnership for Peace, NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the OSCE. He concluded that Serbia’s potential neutral stand should not represent an obstacle towards enhancing its euroathlantic integration.
Prof. Dragana Mitrović spoke about the nature of the relationship wit the People’s Republic of China and the countries of Central Asia, pointing out the possibilities of broadening the relationships with this great power. She also spoke about the relationship with the countries in the region, as well as with Brussels, Washington, Moscow and the developing countries. Prof. Mitrović stressed the incoherent behaviour of the institutions implementing Serbia’s foreign policy as the main reason for preventing the high officials of China to visit Serbia. Using a comparison with Croatia, she pointed out the possibilities of engaging into financial arrangements with China.
Prof. Mile Jović endeavoured to determine the steps to be taken towards the foreign economic expansion of Serbia, in order to improve the position of Serbia in the international framework.
The panel was closed with a discussion on the national interests and the evident split within the society regarding the attitude towards NATO and the EU. Prof. Visković stressed that the ethnic and the national (state) interests of Serbia and the Serbs are not identical and that they had even occasionally been in conflict.
Panel 2: Serbia and Europe (EU), was facilitated by Prof. Tanja Miščević, Director of the European Integration Office of the Government of Serbia. She highlighted the impediments and the advantages Serbia is facing for reaching full EU membership. Prof. Milica Delević, Assistant Minister for EU Affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presented a historic overview of the relationship between Serbia (and former SFRY) with the European Community and later with the EU. She spoke about the significance of the SAA and the status of Kosovo and Metohija as a factor complicating the relations between Belgrade and Brussels, due to the fact that most EU Member States have accepted the independence of Priština. Ms Dragana Đorić, M.A., presented the process of harmonising the Serbian legislation with the EU acquis communitaire. Mr Nenad Vasić, Acting Director of the Institute for Serbian Culture from Leposavić, elaborated on the scenarios for leading Serbia’s further foreign policy with regard to the Kosovo status and the determination of key political players on the Serbian political scene to support the EU option or to be neutral. He stressed that the approach of the future Government towards Kosovo would significantly affect the further process of accepting the independence of Kosovo and its future status. Regarding the relations with the EU, Nenad Vasić announced that Article 17 of the SAA with the EU, signed by Serbia, would present the source of future problems and he also pointed out that the EULEX Mission is operating without legal grounds provided by the international law. Vasić shared some experiences from Kosovo and Metohija and stated an example of a Spanish enclave sustained within France, which, according to him, illustrates the current position of Serbian enclaves. Ms Ivona Lađevac, a Research Assistant at the Institute of International Politics and Economics, presented the development of Serbia’s orientation towards EU integration from the year 2000, as well as the challenges, possibilities and obstacles lying on its way towards the EU integration. During the discussion, Ambassador Predrag Simić pointed out that Serbia is the only country informally required to denounce a part of its own territory and fully undermine the implementation of the national project started in the 19th century, in order to achieve full integration into the EU. This observation initiated an expert debate.
Panel 3: Serbia and Regional Cooperation, was facilitated by Prof. Džemal Hatibović, a Scientific Adviser at the Institute of International Politics and Economics. Mr Dragan Đukanović, Ph.D., a Scientific Assistant at the Institute of International Politics and Economics, presented different aspects of bilateral and multilateral cooperation and overall relations among the countries of South-East Europe. He performed an overview of the attitudes of the counties in the region towards the status of Kosovo and Metohija but also criticised focusing all diplomatic efforts of a country on solving the issue of Kosovo status. Ms Edita Stojić Karanović, Ph.D., Scientific Adviser at the Institute of International Politics and Economics, presented the importance of ensuring cooperation in the Danube region. She stressed the multi-disciplinary approach of the regional research. Ms Stojić stated that the Danube, as a large water resource, is being underutilised and that its economic and cultural significance enhances the political relations of Serbia and other countries along the Danube flow. Ms Sanja Jelisavac, M.A., a Research Assistant at the Institute of International Politics and Economics, presented the regional initiatives in the region of Western Balkans, with the special emphasis on the CEFTA. Mr Veran Stančetić discussed the modalities of regional cooperation as creating linkages of sub-national units sharing common interests and goals. He presented the Euro-regions in which parts of Serbia are participating.
Panel 4: Kosovo and Metohija After the Unilateral Proclamation of Independence was the last panel of the first conference day. It was facilitated by Mr Nenad Vasić, M.A., who reminded the participants briefly of the events to occur on Kosovo and Metohija on the 15th June 2008 when the Constitution of the so-called independent state of Kosovo is to come into force, the EULEX Mission is to take over the authority of the international legal representative and the mandate status of the municipal authorities in Serbian enclaves is to be determined. Mr Igor Janev. Ph.D., spoke about the unilateral proclamation of Kosovo’s independence and theoretical aspects of gaining independence. Finally, he took into consideration the possibility of submitting a complaint or a Request for Advisory Opinion to the International Court of Justice on the issue of unilateral proclamation of independence of Kosovo. Janev expressed his belief that the ICJ would provide an opinion in favour of Serbia. Mr David Veskov, M.A., pointed out that it is not in the interest of the counties accepting the independence of Kosovo to denounce their politics and that they intend to introduce Kosovo into the IMF and the World Bank and to provide Kosovo with development credits. At the same time, according to Veskov, the Serbs living in the north of the province would be used by the USA and the EU to impose conditions on the Albanians. As regards Macedonia, he stated that currently the authorities of the country are being pressured to accept Kosovo and Metohija as an independent state. Mr Dušan N. Vujović, presented the manner in which the foreign policy of Kosovo and Metohija was lead in the period 1999-2007.
Panel 5: Basic elements of Serbia’s Foreign Economic and Financial Relations Strategy served to provide an overview of the economic situation in Serbia and possibilities for its improvement. The panel was facilitated by Prof. Vladimir Grečić, a Scientific Adviser at the Institute of International Politics and Economics. The first conference participant to take part in the panel was Prof. Joakim Becker, Director of the Institute for Political Economy of the University of Vienna (Austria). He presented a comparative analysis of monetary regimes and financial weaknesses of the Western Balkan countries and proposed a set of concrete changes to be made in the monetary policy of Serbia. Prof. Mlađen Kovačević, a Scientific Adviser at the Institute of International Politics and Economics, criticised the economic and fiscal policy from the end of the year 2000 till now. He contrasted the state of economy today against the projections of line ministries in the precedent period. He also proposed frameworks for the development of concrete measures in this area. Prof. Blagoje Babić, a Scientific Adviser at the Institute of International Politics and Economics, proposed a modality for successful servicing of Serbia’s foreign debt. He said it was necessary to immediately initiate a new industrialisation of Serbia, so that it would be able to produce and provide the servicing. Mr Predrag Bjelić, Ph.D. a professor at the Faculty of Economics of the Belgrade University, presented models for creating a successful foreign trade policy of Serbia. Ms Ivana Popović Petrović, M.A., a Research Assistant at the Institute of International Politics and Economics provided an overview of domestic agriculture and ways of enhancing production and placing domestic food products on the market.
Panel 6: Serbia and the Developing Countries was facilitated by Prof. Blagoje Babić, a Scientific Adviser at the Institute of International Politics and Economics. Prof. Slobodan Pajović, Ph.D. provided a background summary of relations between Belgrade and the countries of Latin America. He pointed at the deterioration of relations between Serbia and the countries of Central and South America. After presenting the economic development and political dynamics in that part of the world, he asked for the connections, primarily economic connections, with this region to be renewed. Mr Slobodan Janković, M.A., a Research Assistant at the Institute of International Politics and Economics presented the relations between Serbia and the Arabian countries from the year 2000 till now, the current level of foreign trade exchange and the options of its growth for the benefit of Serbia.
Panel 7: The Role of Serbian Diaspora in Serbia’s Foreign Policy was moderated by Mr Dragan Đukanović, Ph.D., a Scientific Assistant at the Institute of International Politics and Economics. Prof. Vladimir Grečić, Ph.D., a Scientific Adviser at Institute of International Politics and Economics underlined the significance of diaspora for each county and especially for Serbia, suggesting modalities for establishing strategic links between the home country and Serbian diaspora. Ms Lorna Štrbac, M.A. pointed at the consequences of globalisation and the position of culture in the foreign policy of the world’s leading countries, criticising the negligence of the cultural aspect of Serbia’s foreign policy.
Conclusions from the Conference:
Presentations by conference participants and the issues raised, as well as the diversity of opinions stated during debates regarding different segments that may constitute the strategy of Serbia’s foreign policy have all pointed out the advantages of having such a document, obstacles for its adoption and application and finally, the guidelines that this document would have to contain.
In order to create a set of more durable guidelines and thus enable a more coherent presentation of Serbia’s interests in the world, it is necessary to adopt a strategic approach to the planning and drafting of a good strategy of Serbia’s foreign policy. Having a strategy adopted would decrease the possibility of constantly shifting the main approaches of the county’s foreign policy, influenced by the changes of structures governing the country.
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