0140 GMT November 22, 2019
Iran and Serbia will prop up bilateral trade despite the United States’ economic restrictions which have failed to negatively impact Tehran-Belgrade exchange.
“Last year, the volume of the two nations’ [bilateral] trade increased by 150% compared with the previous year,” said Todorovic.
The volume of Iran-Serbia trade was worth $53 million in 2018, which is their highest rate in eight years.
Of course, he noted, such level of exchange is not satisfactory, and therefore Iran’s Embassy in Belgrade and the Serbian Embassy in Tehran have been pursuing efforts to boost those figures.
The Serbian envoy made reference to an upcoming visit by Iran’s Parliamentary delegation headed by Speaker Ali Larijani to the Serbian capital for the 141st Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Belgrade, and pointed out that commercial and economic exchange are on the agenda of talks between ranking officials of the two countries.
“That trip will provide an opportunity for negotiations between the two countries in order to review strategies on boosting the volume of trade.”
Todorovic said efforts have been made to increase the volume of trade in 2018, adding that this year Iran’s Mahan Air has established a link between Tehran and Belgrade, which will help develop the two partners’ relations.
The ambassador said currently Iran-Serbia trade mostly revolves around the auto industry as well as food and tourism.
He also pointed to US sanctions against Iran and noted that his country also suffered under economic embargoes at some point in time but bounced back and these sanctions have also failed to produce tangible results.
The Serbian official said such unilateral economic limitations had little impact on international trade.
He also described Iran’s reaction to the US pullout of the 2015 multinational nuclear deal with Tehran as “smart” and said Iran’s diplomacy in that regard will entail positive solutions for the nation.
Although Serbia is not a Muslim nation, it attaches high importance to ties with the Islamic Republic and is keen on participating in other fields such as health and tourism as well.
“We seek to open up cooperation in other areas too,” remarked the ambassador.
Todorovic referred to the presence of Iranian students in Serbian schools and noted that Iranians have a more distinct presence in Serbian college and university programs especially in medicine and medical fields.
“We plan to develop collaboration on education in the next year and hold a conference in Iran to present educational capacities of Serbian universities to Iranians.”
He said the two nations have significant potentials to also boost relations in areas of culture and pointed to Iranian’s active role in an ongoing Book Exhibition in the Serbian capital city.
The envoy said Iranian translations were on display at the expo and more such works were planned for the future to better connect the two nations culturally as well.
Iran and Serbia also have good relations in sports and sport cooperation too, said Ambassador Todorovic, noting that Iran’s national volleyball team's coach Igor Kolakovic is a Serbian national who also used to head his country’s national squad.
In addition, the Basketball Federation of Serbia will soon extend an invitation to Iran to discuss collaboration at the level of national teams, he concluded.