Interview: Belt & Road Initiative to foster China-Serbia win-win cooperation: Serbian expert

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Chinese President Xi Jinping (C, front) attends a luncheon hosted by Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic (R, front) and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic (L, front) in Belgrade, Serbia, June 19, 2016. (Xinhua/Ding Lin)

BELGRADE, Aug. 14 (Xinhua) -- China-proposed Belt and Road initiative offers new perspective for the growth of the friendly ties between China and Serbia towards achieving win-win results in various fields, Zivadin Jovanovic, a Serbian expert on international relations, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Jovanovic served as Yugoslavian foreign minister from 1998 to 2000 and is now president of the think-tank "Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals" founded in 2000.

Jovanovic said people in both Serbia and China shared in history a tradition of fighting against aggression and oppression and defending national dignity.

"Today our two countries share the same basic objectives, such as peaceful coexistence, independent internal and foreign policy, support to United Nations and respect for the international law," he said, adding that both countries acknowledge the need to build a new world order based on the principle of sovereign equality of all nations.

Both countries have "stable friendship" and are "trusted partners" in various fields, the Serbian expert said, citing China's solidarity with Serbia during the 1999 NATO bombing of then Yugoslavia as well as China's support for Serbia following the 2014 floods that struck Serbia hard as examples.

He also noted that in a move to honor the Serbia-China friendship, just two months ago, Belgrade named the street in front of the future Chinese cultural center after the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius (551-479 BC) and named the area around the center as "Square of Serbian-Chinese Friendship".

Serbia and China in June agreed to upgrade their relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership. "This is a natural result of long-lasting friendship, comprehensive cooperation and mutual trust between the two countries," Jovanovic said, stressing that it presents an iron foundation for accelerating bilateral cooperation in the 21st century.

"Multidimensional, global initiative Belt and Road has opened new unprecedented perspectives for expansion and intensification of cooperation," he said.

When it comes to bilateral economic cooperation, Jovanovic listed some of the major achievements within the framework of the Belt and Road initiative -- Mihajlo Pupin Bridge, Kostolac thermal power plant, the E763 highway, the Serbia-Hungary railway and Smederevo Steel Mill.

In his opinion, the Belt and Road initiative expands, widens and intensifies Sebia-China cooperation.

The initiative provides an opportunity to expand and modernize Serbia's regional and European infrastructure and will help Serbia activate its existing resources towards achieving modern and sustainable development, Jovanovic said.

Moreover, it will help Serbia adapt its strategy of development and distribution of international cooperation towards its own potentials, priorities and new realities in the world, the Serbian expert said.

Serbia and China "in spite of geographic distance, incomparable size of territories, population and economic potentials, do respect each other, do share values of peace stability and win-win cooperation," therefore they have wide area for bilateral and international cooperation, he added.

"Thanks to cooperation with China, especially within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, Serbia is resolving some long-standing economic difficulties, accelerating economic and technological development and reinforcing partnership position in Europe," Jovanovic said, adding, "China, on the other side, can always be confident in Serbia that it will be its stable partner in Europe, particularly in the process of the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative."