Dusanka Divjak-Tomic, Ambassador of Serbia to Macedonia, discusses the current bilateral relations between the countries, pointing out the strong economic connections and FDI opportunities that both countries offer.
European Times: What are the milestones of your professional career?
Dusanka Divjak-Tomic: In my 44 years of diplomatic work experience, I represented Serbia in numerous countries and international organizations, including China, the Permanent Missions to UN in New York and Geneva, and the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. My mandate in Macedonia started in 2009 as a Minister Counsellor, and I was accredited as Ambassador of Serbia to Macedonia in 2013. I am proud to represent Serbia and to contribute to the development of good relations between our two neighbouring and friendly countries.
European Times: How would you describe the bilateral relations between the two countries?
Dusanka Divjak-Tomic: Serbia and Macedonia have always maintained close relations, since we have mutual interests and many things in common. The economic relations are always in focus and they are traditionally good. Serbia is among the top five countries of the Macedonian trade exchange. Both countries are strategically oriented towards EU membership, and one of the main preconditions for accession is improving the bilateral and regional infrastructure, which is why both countries are dedicated to the development of modern infrastructure and improving the road and railway connections.
When it comes to the rate of investments, there is room for improvement and endeavours should be made by both countries to reach the full potential in this area. Tourism, as a very important part of the GDP of both countries, is also one of the branches with high potential. We can improve the situation by promoting joint touristic offers, taking into consideration that, besides the beautiful nature and excellent food, both countries have a rich history, attractive ancient locations and monuments, medieval churches and monasteries, etc.
European Times: What are the opportunities and challenges for attracting foreign investments?
Dusanka Divjak-Tomic: Macedonia is well known among Serbian investors and they are well acquainted with the opportunities that the government provides for investors. However, for the moment, both countries are more oriented towards investors coming from the developed western countries. As small countries, both Serbia and Macedonia could hardly compete on the very demanding global market, but European investors are becoming increasingly aware of our potential, primarily the educated and skilled workforce, and they are monitoring closely the incentives provided by our governments.
By increasing the cooperation and working on joint projects, both countries can gain competitive advantages. Macedonian businesses also recognized the benefit of the Serbian favourable position and access to the Russian, Belarusian and some other markets, and established branches in Serbia in order to gain easier access to these markets. I personally believe that, in addition to good road and railway infrastructure connections, both countries should also cooperate in the energy sector and create a good network of electricity, gas and pipeline connections. In conclusion, by promoting good neighbourly relations between our countries and cooperating in various areas, we greatly contribute to the strengthening of the stability and the cooperation in the whole region.