As a sign of gratitude for all the support after 2014 floods which hit Serbia, the Norwegian Ambassador in Serbia Arne Sannes Bjørnstad has been nominated for the charter of the Honorary Citizen of Belgrade.
It is a long way from being a friend of a city to becoming its honorary citizen. It is usually an unrequited love. Belgrade returned its love to only 30 friends so far, one of whom is Mr. Thorvald Stoltenberg, former Norwegian diplomat and minister.
Ambassador Bjørnstad is likely to become the second Norwegian on the list. On the initiative of the Serbian PM Aleksandar Vučić, the ambassador has been nominated for the charter of the Honorary Citizen of Belgrade.
“The city of Belgrade wants to repay to His Excellency for the great assistance of the Kingdom of Norway to Belgrade and Serbia after floods in May 2014, and to further strengthen the excellent cooperation and friendly relations,” says Belgrade mayor Siniša Mali.
In May 2014, disastrous floods hit Serbia and especially Obrenovac, causing mass evacuations and great damage. Norway was among the first to jump in and help by allocating four million euros for the reconstruction of damaged schools and public institutions, but also half a million euros to civil society organisations and local self-governments in areas that have been hardest hit by the flooding.
The Sports and Culture Centre in Obrenovac, as the last reconstructed building with Norwegian support, opened its doors to new sports victories, great exhibitions and performances on July 6.
As a true friend of Serbia and its people, the Ambassador says he would be honoured to be the honourary Belgrader. “True friendship is not just about celebrating success together. It is also helping each other when help is needed, and this is what Norway has done. To be nominated as the representative of Norway to this honour is a great token of gratitude and friendship to Norway from the people of Belgrade and Serbia.”
The City assembly is due to officially declare the honorary Belgrader on its September session.