Serbia aims to forge closer ties with SA
Share this article:
It is his second term serving as ambassador of the Balkan country, having been in Pretoria previously from 2009 to 2013, accredited to 10 countries in southern Africa.
But while much is familiar, there is also much which has changed in five years, says Vujicic, over breakfast at the Summit restaurant Menlyn, accompanied by his second secretary, Aleksandar Markovic who is serving his second term at the embassy.
For a start, there’s the whole Menlyn Maine precinct which wasn’t there when he left and the infrastructure development through Centurion and Midrand, has been impressive, he said.
And, of course, his children, are five years older, with a teenage daughter and twins of 11 enrolled back at Crawford College, while his adult child remained in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade.
Vujicic is happy to be back, not only because he enjoyed his first posting to the country so much, but also because it is an exciting time for both countries.
And he sees potential for growing ties in the region.
Political ties are strong, thanks to the former Yugoslavia’s part of the non-aligned movement, and support for the anti-colonial struggle of African nations.
So the focus will be on economic exchange which at this stage is “modest” with a trade deficit.
South Africa is the key strategic partner in the region and there needs to be a more structured partnership between South African and Serbian companies, according to Vujicic, who will present his credentials shortly after the elections next month.
What Serbia can offer is experience in certain fields, such as energy, agriculture, construction, IT and education, and already there are post-graduate study opportunities for South Africans at Serbian universities through the World in Serbia programme.
Tourism is another important point of exchange, with Serbia working with its neighbours in the region, such as Croatia and Montenegro, to promote travel to Belgrade and the rest of the country.