Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

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Whenever government members appear at diplomatic receptions that is interpreted as sending a clear political message

Reception in celebration of 4th July – The top Serbian officials at the US Embassy

The guests at the reception held in the lush garden of the French Embassy were a little nervous because waiters had instructions to serve alcoholic drinks only after the ambassador’s speech. The start of the speech was delayed for an hour after Ambassador Mondoloni waited for the top guest – the President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić – to arrive, who was late due to attending the opening of the first building of the Belgrade Waterfront development earlier.

The Serbian Armed Forces Orchestra played La Marseillaise and Bože Pravde, the French and Serbian anthem respectively, Ambassador Mondoloni gave a speech on the significance of the relations between Serbia and France, especially in the year in which we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the joint victory in the World War I, as well as on the official visit of the French President Macron to Serbia and Serbian President Vučić to France. After the speech, President Vučić spoke very briefly, after which the wine was served.

Reception in marking of the Storming of the Bastille – President Vučić as a regular guest of the French Ambassador

The appearance of the President of the Republic, the Speaker of the National Parliament, the Serbian Prime Minister and members of the Government at diplomatic receptions has long been considered as sending a clear political message. The statistics compiled by Diplomacy & Commerce magazine in the past two years show a very clear trend when it comes to the presence of Aleksandar Vučić, first as Prime Minister, later as President, at diplomatic receptions. In the past three years, Aleksandar Vučić has been a guest at the every reception marking the national day of the following countries: Germany, the USA, France, Russia, China, and the EU. He sometimes appeared at the reception in celebration of the National Day of Italy, and this is where, more or less, the list ends. In the past few years, he did not show up at the receptions held by the sixth permanent member of the UN Security Council – Great Britain, nor the receptions held by neighbouring countries or the former Yugoslav states.

Since she was appointed Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabić appeared at most of the events with Aleksandar Vučić and was also seen only at the celebration of the 60th birthday of the European Investment Bank.

The former frequent guest of diplomatic receptions, the National Parliament Speaker, Maja Gojković has put in appearances very rarely in the past year, while Zoran Djordjevic is one of ministers who is present at almost all events of this type is – from the Day of Africa, through the celebrations of national holidays of Qatar and Argentina, to the celebration of the Dutch Queen’s birthday. No Serbian government members, including Zoran Djordjević, appeared at the celebrations of the national days of Croatia and Canada.

The minister who, by the nature of his tenure, should appear at most diplomatic receptions since he is in charge of foreign affairs, Ivica Dačić, is a guest at only those receptions at which Aleksandar Vučić comes to, while he is absent from others. This was not the case when he was the interior minister in Mirko Cvetković’s government from 2008 to 2012 when he attended almost every reception out there, as well as during 2012 and 2014, when he was the Prime Minister.

Deputy PM, Zorana Mihajlović very rarely comes to such events, unless President Vučić is there too. In the past few months, she has been seen only at the celebration of the Statehood Day of Montenegro, and at the celebration of the Independence Day at the residence of the US Ambassador.

As for other officials, the former Belgrade City Manager and today, the Deputy Belgrade Mayor, Goran Vesić has appeared fairly regularly at such events and has recently conceded the City Hall to the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel and the Montenegrin Independence Day. The Head of the Vojvodinian Government, Igor Mirovic is also seen at the receptions frequented by President Vučić and only recently, he attended the celebration held by the Montenegrin Embassy since Vojvodina has had traditionally good relations with the Montenegrins.

The instructions given to the waiters from the beginning of this story, that is to talk loudly over the speeches of ambassadors and other officials, is a conquence of a rather nasty habit of the guests that come to these receptions. Since the generated noise was proportionate to the quantity of consumed alcohol, the organizers of these kinds of events decided to serve the wine after the speeches.

The most regular guest at diplomatic receptions – Minister Zoran Djordjevic with the Ambassador of Slovenia in Belgrade

 

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