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Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Serbia will reveal a new chapter of Serbia-China traditional friendship, says Tomislav Nikolic.
It will also offer a chance of further economic cooperation, the Serbian president told Xinhua in an exclusive interview ahead of Xi’s visit that starts on Friday.
Nikolic also described the friendship between the two countries as being “as strong as the Great Wall of China.”
Nikolic said he had “great expectation to Xi’s upcoming visit” and believed it would “strengthen and promote the comprehensive development of bilateral relations.”
Noting that the two countries signed a joint declaration on strategic partnership in 2009, the president said he expected the visit of his Chinese counterpart “to further enhance political and economic ties.”
Nikolic spoke about “the profound and decades-old friendship between Serbia and China,” and stressed that since coming to office in 2012 he “always paid great attention to relations with China,” adding:
“The everlasting friendship cannot be influenced by changes of presidents or prime ministers.”
“In past years bilateral relations have been developing comprehensively, political and economic cooperation has also helped Serbia to elevate its international importance. Serbia and China support each other’s positions on issues concerning their core interests,” he said.
The president said that economy-wise, “the two countries have cooperated in many infrastructure projects with the help of Chinese loans and implementation, including highways, bridges and thermal power plants.”
“Serbia has a tradition of production. The country gives high subsidies to investors and it has duty-free markets across the world. These are extraordinary reasons why Chinese investors should build their factories here – we should jointly make products here and sell them in international market,” Nikolic said.
He described Serbia’s industry and food sector as two very promising and fast-growing areas, and suggested to Chinese businesspeople to invest there, adding that he “also hoped the two nations can enhance communication and cooperation in science and technology, culture, and art.”
“We are on the route of ‘the Belt and Road’, and we also belong to the 16 countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Yet our bilateral relations will go beyond them. Serbia can become China’s partner in the entire region,” Nikolic said, referring to China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the 16+1 Cooperation mechanism, Xinhua reported.
The Serbian president also said he was “happy to see that bilateral cooperation is going on so well,” and concluded:
“Friendship cannot be measured by money, but by time and history. Our friendship is as strong as the Great Wall of China.”