Interview with Tatiana Konic, Ambassador of Serbia.
The Serbian ambassador to Mexico, Tatjana Konic, emphasized that Russia and Ukraine are friendly countries and recalls the war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s.
– It is necessary for Mexico and the world in general not to forget what happened in your country in 1992. Especially at this time because of what is happening in Ukraine.
At this moment, we are all thinking about the most important thing without a doubt: the cessation of hostilities and the suffering of the civilian population of Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine have always been Serbia’s best friends. Serbs view Russians and Ukrainians as sister peoples. We feel the loss of every human being is a real tragedy.
But no citizen of my country, who survived the events not only in 1992 but throughout the 1990s, can’t help but remember that painful experience. Serbia has always maintained a responsible foreign policy, but it has paid a heavy price for its dedication and defense of the principles of international law, including the principle of inviolability and respect for its territorial integrity. For this effort, we have not only been subjected to sanctions, but also aggression by the nineteen member states of NATO, without any prior authorization from the United Nations General Assembly or any other international organization. Yugoslavia at that time was an independent and sovereign country, with its internationally recognized borders, and it did not attack or endanger any country in the world.
During the continuous bombing, which lasted 78 days between March and June 1999, NATO dropped 22,000 tons of bombs, including cluster bombs and depleted uranium bombs, causing thousands of civilian casualties and destroying buildings and infrastructure. We continue to fight against the increase in the number of cancer patients and deaths as a result of the bombing.
The intention to illegally seize its southern province of Kosovo from Serbia, which is the cradle of culture and history of the Serbian nation, was not successful, despite the unilateral declaration of independence of that region in 2008, which is a serious violation of international law. Law and applicable resolutions of the UN Security Council. We continue the struggle to not allow this violation of international norms and principles and to defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity, based on the basic principles of international law and applicable UN Security Council resolutions, and with the support of states. Friends, among whom Mexico occupies a prominent position.
“What should we not forget about that episode?”
Just one thing – dialogue and conversations, as well as the effort to listen and understand each other, are invaluable. It does not jeopardize the basic principles of international law, even to a minimum. Even if negotiations go on for years, and if they sometimes seem futile, they will not be. Years of negotiations are the small price of one human life. That is why it is still necessary to try to understand each other, to achieve a fair solution. Because only a fair solution is also a permanent solution. If we stick to an unfair solution, sooner or later the problem will reappear.
Can what is happening in Ukraine be prevented?
It is difficult to speak in the context of “if there is”, but we firmly believe that every conflict can be avoided by dialogue, with a willingness to understand each other, as well as with unrestricted adherence to the Charter of the United Nations and fundamental principles of international law, such as, for example, the inviolability of borders, Respect for the territorial integrity of nations and abstain from the use of force, which we have felt violated in our own skin many times during our history.
“he will not be there”. What will happen to achieve a ceasefire, perhaps the first goal at the moment?
We fully agree that the absolute priority at this time is the cessation of hostilities and the loss of human life, that is, support for those suffering. It is very important to maintain and support dialogue between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, as well as to use all efforts of the international community as a whole to find a negotiated solution.
– Do you consider that multilateralism is working properly to achieve a cease-fire?
There is no substitute for pluralism. We have no choice but to promote impartial and just multilateralism, in which the principles of international law are equal for all. In the case of the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia, the United Nations was ignored. In the case of Kosovo and Metohija, our sovereignty, throughout the territory, including our southern province, was ratified by Resolution 1244 of the United Nations Security Council, which unfortunately many countries ignored, recognizing the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo. Therefore, although we may question whether or not multilateralism is successful, on certain occasions, we must undoubtedly maintain a commitment to it and continue to promote it.
Did the West stop listening to Putin long ago?
It is currently difficult to assess such complex and multidimensional relations as those between the West and the Russian Federation, let alone where and how they could be better.
Obviously, a lack of understanding. That’s why we keep emphasizing that we should not only listen to each other, but also try to understand each other, despite our differences.
– How did your country heal the wounds after what happened in 1992?
Work and home building without a doubt. During the past decades, Serbia has made a lot of efforts to build the state, strengthen its economy, and raise the level of institutional performance in the best possible way. Serbia is today a country with a GDP growth rate of 7.5%, which made us, last year, the second country in Europe, after Ireland. In Serbia today, construction continues. We are currently implementing large-scale infrastructure projects, simultaneously building six highways and an international railway. The unemployment rate has decreased over the past ten years from around 24% to 9%. We maintain business relationships with all over the world. We have free trade agreements with a market of about 1.3 billion consumers. We are committed to integration into the European Union, which further enhances our institutional capacity. We are one of the most attractive destinations for foreign investment – in the past year alone, despite the pandemic, we were able to attract €3.9 billion in foreign direct investment. During 2021, we opened 18 new factories, employed 11,680 workers with an investment of 760 million euros. In the second half of last year, we started building 6 new factories, which will employ just over 1500 workers. Thus, Serbia will continue to develop for the benefit of its citizens.
—How is your application to join the European Union?
Serbia has candidate status for membership in the European Union. The process of aligning our institutional performance in all areas with the community system is underway. With each passing day, we bring our capabilities closer to the highest EU standards. For our part, we will undoubtedly continue to work hard in this area, which remains one of the priorities of our foreign policy.
What can you highlight about the relationship between Serbia and Mexico?
Serbia and Mexico are friendly countries, which this year celebrate the 76th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, characterized by mutual understanding, respect and support. We develop cooperation in all areas of mutual benefit. In the field of political dialogue, I would like to highlight the recent visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Nikola Silakovic, and the spouse of the Serbian President, Tamara Vucic, last year, to attend the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence. Your country, which maintains its commitment to the fundamental principles of international law, strongly supports Serbia in its efforts to preserve its territorial integrity, and does not recognize the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo, our southern province. In economic terms, the previous year we had a 36.5% increase in trade, considering it a great success. We have highly developed academic cooperation, intercity contacts, cooperation in the field of culture, since in 2020 we have signed and ratified the agreement between our two governments in this field. Parliamentary cooperation is at a very high level. We recently had the opportunity to celebrate the formation of the Friendship Group with Serbia in the Mexican House of Representatives. We focus on introducing Serbian culture into Mexico, not only in the capital, but throughout the country.
—What is your work schedule in Mexico?
We continue to work to bring our two countries closer in all fields, mainly through visits, promotion of dialogue, development of economic cooperation, bringing young people together through university scholarships, culture and sports. , permanent contacts between parliamentarians, strengthening cooperation in the areas of agriculture, twinning our cities and municipalities, and, in particular, revealing our art, especially literature, to the Mexican public, which we do with great pleasure. With the goodwill, desire and traditional friendship already existing between our two countries, the results will be none.