The Day of America conference in Belgrade, held on September 7th, 2023, was attended by many members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of government ministries, public enterprises and companies. The delegation of the Ohio National Guard stood out in particular as one of the conference’s guests when important topics were discussed.
After the official address to the media, Vladimir Orlić, Speaker of the National Parliament, officially opened the conference and welcomed the participants.
“The parliamentary caucus in charge of the matters related to Serbia’s friendship with the US is always formed in each new convocation of our National Parliament and always has a lot of members, which in its own way, is an indicator of our will, desire and motivation to contribute to the further improvement of the relations between the two countries”, said Orlić.
The conference began with a special panel discussion attended by H.E. Christopher Hill, Ambassador of the United States of America to Serbia and H. E. Marko Djurić, Serbian Ambassador to the USA. Vladimir Marinković, founder of the Serbian-American Friendship Congress, was the panel moderator.
Ambassador Hill stated that the Serbian people were very similar to the American people in the sense that they did not like to be told what to do. “It is a natural connection between our two countries,” added the ambassador.
Ambassador Djurić spoke about our country’s need to be better represented on the American continent. “In addition to all the long-term crises, Serbia is showing a resilience that is unexpected for us, who have been long-term observers and participants in social and political life,” he said and added that “the USA has become Serbia’s number one partner when it comes to services and in the future, we want the USA to become an even stronger partner when it comes to the economy. Our cooperation is the strongest in the IT and software industry”.
Our cooperation is the strongest in the IT and software industry
The conference then continued with the ceremony during which awards were given to individuals for their merits in the development of Serbian-American relations. The award winners are H.E. Marko Djurić, the Serbian Ambassador to the USA, Robert Benjamin, Regional Director of the National Democratic Institute, Richard Grenell, former special US envoy for the Kosovo-Serbia dialogue, Marija Milošević, director of the Art for All gallery, Jovanka Višekruna Janković, founder and artistic director of Artlink, Mihajlo Delić, director of the Play sports charity organization and Adam Sofronijević from RJ Srbijamarka the Serbian Post Office.
Next was a conversation with Ivica Dačić, Serbian Foreign Minister. At his presentation, he stated that we did not always have to agree with each other and that we could have different interests, but that we should find a common denominator and base cooperation on mutual benefits and respect for the best interests of both parties.
Dačić also spoke about Serbia’s historical role, which remained consistently on the same, true, side of history with the USA and that even today, as the largest and most important nation in the Western Balkan region, it deserves to be treated as an ally of the USA.
MP Stefan Krkobabić spoke with Colonel John Stewart from the Ohio National Guard on the topic of achieving peace in the region and Europe.
“Our partnership is developing and growing with us. As we progress in our professions, so does our cooperation,” said Colonel Stewart.
Tomislav Momirović, Serbian Internal and External Trade Minister, Slobodan Cvetković, Director General of the Novi Sad Fair, Svetoslav Atanasov, Director General of Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, Ivan Miletić, Internal Affairs Director of Philip Morris International and First Vice President of AmCham Serbia, as well as Nikola Avram, director of the Millenium Resorts project, spoke about the topic “Business as Usual”.
Large-scale investments and a large number of employees are the main features of American companies operating in Serbia. The Serbian market is stable and important for this part of Europe.
Minister Momirović announced that he would reopen the issue of the ban on the import of Serbian goods in Kosovo and Metohija in Brussels and added that he expected that the problem would be resolved very soon since it was in the best interest of both Serbian and Albanian companies, as well as long-term peace and stability.
“Boosting economic cooperation between Serbia and the United States of America also contributes to better political relations between the two countries. This is supported by the figures which show that 620 American companies are currently operating in Serbia, which have invested over 4.5 billion dollars in the Serbian economy and employ around 30,000 of our workers,” said Minister Momirović.
On the topic of energy stability and diversification in the face of the challenge of global geostrategic changes, a panel was held under the name Energy 4.0 in which the participants talked about the un- used resources that Serbia has and what is the potential direction to- wards achieving energy stability. The moderator of the panel was Goran Svilanović, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of FR Yugoslavia, and the participants, in addition to Vladimir Marinković, were Suzana Grubješić, vice president of the Center for Foreign Policy and Darko Obradović, program director of the Center for Strategic Analysis.
The Serbian market is stable and important for this part of Europe
Slavica Djukić Dejanović, Serbian Education Minister, Joseph Shepard, President of the University of Western New Mexico and Zoran Jolevski, Harvard lecturer and former ambassador of North Macedonia to the USA, participated in the panel dedicated to education, called “Not Another Brick in the Wall”. Nikola Božić, director of the Faculty of Applied Ecology, was the moderator of the last panel.
Minister Djukić Dejanović expressed her gratitude to the Serbian-American Friendship Congress for nurturing the relations between the two countries and insisting on having a dialogue on various topics that are crucial for the development of a society. “Thanks to the mutual exchange of experiences and ideas, we will certainly always work for the benefit of our people,” said the Minister.
Closing the conference, she also said that the Day of America conference in Belgrade was a proof and indicator of mutual desire and intention to open new topics, create ideas and partnerships, adding:” I am glad that the conference is at such a high level, in honour of our American guests”.
The evening portion of the event, called “Words Bigger than the Ocean”, was dedicated to the literary ties between Serbia and the USA and was held at the National Library of Serbia. Vladimir Pištalo, Director of the National Library and writer, Professor Vladislava Gordić Petković, Ph.D., from the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad, Dr Sergej Macura from the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade and D. John K. Cox, professor at North Dakota State University took part in this event.
The esteemed guests talked about how significant literary works were translated into both languages, of course, more from English to Serbian than the other way around, but some works are still inaccessible to Serbian admirers of literature because it is quite difficult to do an adequate translation. There is also a great desire to better present ourselves to the American audience. The guests agreed that we needed to work even more on joint projects and unite our two great nations through prose and poetry because culture is the most beautiful view of our lives and the rich history that we can provide even far across the ocean.