Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Belgrade yesterday took place in the context of regional issues and economic cooperation between the two countries.
“This is the golden age of Serbian-Turkish relations,” assessed the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić.
As expected before the visit, the key subjects of the two presidents’ talks included regional problems, improving mutual cooperation, Ukraine and energy. The President of Serbia asked Turkey for help with electricity supplies during the winter and also expressed interest in the purchase of Turkish Barjaktar drones.
The Turkish President, for his part, emphasised that ‘Ankara is ready to support in any way the achievement of a solution between Serbia and Kosovo’. Regarding the situation in Ukraine, Erdogan said that Turkey has always followed a policy of balance between Russia and Ukraine, and added that there are no winners in this war, ‘but there are many losers’. At the same time, he drew attention to the fact that Russia should not be underestimated and that those who do so are wrong.
In the presence of Vucic and Erdogan, the two countries’ representatives signed a protocol on changes to the 2010 Agreement on the mutual abolition of visas, an Agreement on mutual facilitation and protection of investments and an Agreement on cooperation in innovation in advanced technologies.
In addition, Serbia and Turkey also signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of forest fire suppression, a memorandum of cooperation in the field of media and communications, a memorandum of cooperation in the field of electronic administration and a protocol on cooperation between the Serbian state TV (RTS) and the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation.
“Turkey is very interested in the Balkan region and has the potential to be involved in dispute resolution,” says political analyst Dragomir Andjelković. “On the one hand, it has great influence over Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albanians in Kosovo and Macedonia, and on the other hand, it has built good relations with Serbs in Serbia and the Republic of Srpska. Erdogan, who is considered an Islamically-minded politician, has managed to overcome the one-sidedness that some previous secular Turkish governments had in this area,’ says Andjelkovic.
He also draws attention to the fact that Turkey invests in those parts of Serbia where nobody else invests: “If we look at the structure of their investments, they are often in very underdeveloped areas, which is of great importance for Serbia”. Bearing in mind that Turkey is also in an economic crisis, “it is now important that Belgrade and Ankara agree politically that this activity should continue”, emphasises Anđelković.
(Deutsche Welle, 08.09.2022)
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