Aleksandar Vucic,Serbia's prime minister and president-elect, receives an interview with Xinhua News Agency in Belgrade, Serbia, May 10, 2017. Serbia sees the upcoming Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing as a chance to confirm agreed joint projects with China and to expand cooperation within the Belt and Road Initiative, Aleksandar Vucic told Xinhua in an interview. (Xinhua/Nemanja Cabric)
by Nemanja Cabric, Wang Huijuan
BELGRADE, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Serbia sees the upcoming Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing as a chance to confirm agreed joint projects with China and to expand cooperation within the Belt and Road Initiative, Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia's prime minister and president-elect, told Xinhua in an interview.
Vucic, who served two mandates as prime minister since 2014, won the April 2 presidential elections as a candidate of the ruling coalition led by his Progressive Party.
While he is waiting to become the new head of state of Serbia at the end of this month, Vucic is going to China to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held in Beijing from May 14 to 15.
Summarizing achievements of bilateral cooperation between China and Serbia so far, Vucic highlighted the construction of the highway Corridor 11 (E763), China's HeSteel Group (HBIS)'s purchase of the steel mill in Smederevo, construction works at the Kostolac thermal power plant and Mihajlo Pupin Bridge across the Danube.
He said he hoped that work would begin at the Belgrade-Budapest railway by the end of the year, as well as that the new visa-free arrangement between the two countries would result in an increase of Chinese tourists.
"We have done many things and a lot is still ahead of us, and when you look at this, you see that both our potentials and existing cooperation are huge, and all this comes within the Belt and Road framework," Vucic said.
He said that the list of benefits from the Belt and Road Initiative is very long and will get longer in the future because "we always expect to do something more for our country but we can't do it without China."
Vucic thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping for the "great job" that was done during his visit to Serbia last year, and said his initiative historically improved relations between the two countries.
"When it comes to politics, our friendship is as strong as steel and we did not have a single problem because we completely support China and Chinese policy in Asia and in the same way China supports our sovereignty, our freedom and independence," he said.
Vucic will lead a delegation of around 20 people, including four ministers and the mayor of Belgrade. He hopes to carry out all the projects that have been planned so far, to confirm them with neighboring countries, as well as to confirm Chinese dedication and devotion to continue with the Belt and Road Initiative.
The prime minister said his agenda at the upcoming visit will include talks about an industrial park, joint construction of road infrastructure, negotiations on direct flights between China and Serbia as well as boosting exchanges in all areas of social life.
BELT AND ROAD A PRIORITY
Vucic said that during his future mandate as the new head of state, bilateral cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative will be a priority.
"That will be one of the most important issues that I will take care of," he said.
As for areas in which the two countries could complement each other, Vucic pointed out culture and sports.
"We have to learn a lot about the Chinese way of living, Chinese philosophy," he said, adding that the two countries are sharing more experiences in different sports and should continue to learn from each other by exchanging trainers and coaches.
Vucic highly praised the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.
"I think that this brings a new energy and it is not only a Chinese dream, as President Xi said, because it could bring happiness to all other nations, not only Chinese," Vucic said.
Besides building roads and railways, this initiative is also bringing people, cultures and different civilizations closer together, he said.
Describing it as a global initiative, the prime minister said that the fruits of the Belt and Road Initiative can be enjoyed by "the entire world."