On July 2-5, 2023, a delegation from ECFA, represented by Ambassador Mohamed El-Oraby, ECFA Chairman, and Ambassadors Dr. Abdel-Rahman Salah and Dr. Mohamed Edris, members of the Board of Directors, visited the Serbian capital, Belgrade, where a joint symposium was held with the Serbian Institute of International Politics and Economics and the Egyptian Embassy in Serbia, entitled “Serbia and Egypt – Through Historical Ties to a Stable Future and Partnership,” on the occasion of the 115th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Egypt and Serbia, as well as holding a number of meetings with Serbian figures.
The symposium included the participation of the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, Ivica Dačić, and a recorded speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt, as well as a speech by Ambassador Bassel Salah, the Egyptian Ambassador to Serbia, along with a number of ambassadors, members of diplomatic missions in Serbia, and a number of researchers. The participants’ speeches praised the extended historical cooperation between Egypt and Serbia at the bilateral and multilateral levels, which contributed to increasing the friendship ties between the two friendly countries, and hailing the historic visit by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to Serbia in July 2022, which witnessed the declaration of the strategic partnership between the two countries and the holding of the first Egyptian-Serbian business forum, including the ongoing progress in the two countries’ relations, most notably the negotiation of a free trade agreement, mutual visits, and meetings between religious, political, tourism, and business leaders, which have contributed and continue to contribute to enhancing bilateral relations between the two countries.
The Serbian side also commended the Egyptian position on preserving Serbia’s territorial integrity with regard to Kosovo, based on the rules of international law and the United Nations Charter, adding that Serbia also appreciates Egypt’s support for the city of Belgrade to host the specialized international exposition EXPO 27, highlighting the importance of Egypt as Serbia’s link to the African continent, being one of the most important actors in various international issues, most notably European energy security and the issue of illegal immigration.
The Egyptian side also reviewed the current situation in the Middle East region and the challenges facing Egypt with regard to water security, mainly the Renaissance Dam issue. It also indicated the potentials available to increase bilateral relations between the two countries in the economic fields through joint industrialization, especially in Egypt in light of the existing free trade agreements linking Egypt with many geographical regions and countries around the world, with the possibility of Egypt becoming a hub for exporting Serbian products manufactured in Egypt to countries in Africa and the Middle East, including in the fields of military manufacturing. The participants also affirmed the importance of coordination and cooperation among various countries, including Egypt and Serbia, to confront the current international challenges, and to benefit from both countries’ converging views regarding various international and regional issues, with the importance of working to achieve communication between academics, diplomats and citizens of the two countries.
On the other hand, ECFA delegation met with the Director of the Institute of International Politics and Economics, who expressed his aspiration for continued communication with ECFA in order to agree on future steps to activate the Memorandum of Understanding between the two sides during 2024, proposing to hold the next event in Cairo during March or April 2024, and that an annual conference be held alternately between the two countries. He also noted the importance of agreeing on the scheduled date for the conference and the themes that will be covered by a maximum of December 2023, proposing to hold a videoconference between ECFA and the Institute in this regard in November 2023.
On his part, ECFA Chairman welcomed the proposals of the Director of the Institute, highlighting the importance of achieving a boost in cooperation between the two sides in conjunction with the proposed visit of the Serbian President to Cairo at the end of 2023. El-Oraby also proposed holding a tripartite meeting among ECFA and the Institute with the participation of representatives of the “India” Foundation, so that this framework is to be agreed upon based on Memorandums of Understanding linking both sides with Indian research institutions. In this context, the delegation held a meeting with the State Secretary of the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Goran Aleksić, as the two sides stressed the importance of moving ahead with strengthening bilateral and tripartite cooperation in Africa, including the possibility of organizing a visit for one or two ambassadors in the Serbian Foreign Ministry to give lectures at the Egyptian Institute for Diplomatic Studies, expressing aspiration to organizing a similar visit from Egypt to Serbia. Finally, the delegation requested Serbia’s support in backing Egypt’s water rights with regard to the Ethiopian dam, and supporting the nomination of Dr. Khaled Al-Anani for the post of UNESCO Director-General, which was welcomed by the Serbian side.