Chongqing - The 2023 Belt and Road Forum for Land-sea Interconnected Development took place on May 17 in Southwest China's Chongqing, attracting political leaders, scholars, industry professionals, and business representatives from Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) partner countries convened to explore development plans, share opportunities, and shape a promising future for land-sea interconnected development.
Among them was Danijel Nikolić, Chairman of the Belt and Road Institute Belgrade and Assistant Secretary-General of the Government of Serbia. In an interview, Nikolić expressed his thoughts on the BRI and emphasized the growing cooperation between Serbia and China.
Reflecting on the past ten years of the BRI, Nikolić highlighted the positive impact the initiative has had on Serbia and the world. He described the BRI as not just a project but a comprehensive idea to foster global development and cooperation. The BRI has facilitated easier connectivity, trade, infrastructure projects, investment, and cultural exchanges among countries, turning differences into valuable assets.
During the forum, the Belt and Road Institute Belgrade signed a framework agreement on friendly cooperation with the Center of Chinese and Greek Ancient Civilizations of Southwest University. Nikolić expressed his delight at the collaboration, emphasizing the significance of such partnerships for further development and cooperation within the BRI.
When asked about specific areas of cooperation between Serbia and China, Nikolić mentioned numerous infrastructure projects such as the Belgrade-Budapest railway - a high-speed railway project connecting the capitals of Serbia and Hungary, sections of the "Miloš Veliki" highway, Belgrade by-pass highway, Novi Sad-Ruma expressway, Valjevo-Lajkovac expressway, Belgrade metro, Kostolac B3 thermal power plant, Pančevo thermal power plant, etc.
Nikolić emphasized, "Also very important to mention is the Pupin Bridge near Belgrade, which is of particular importance because, apart from its great importance for Sino-Serbian relations, it represents the first infrastructure project of the People's Republic of China in Europe, which opened the door of Europe to Chinese companies, of which many are already present in Serbia, such as Zijin Mining, Zijin Copper, HBIS Group, Shandong Linglong Tire, CRBC, Shandong Hi-Speed, Huawei, Bank of China, etc."
"Serbia is one of the most positive examples of cooperation within the Belt and Road initiative, as it has been from the beginning on the path of fulfilling our common goals. Besides strong and traditional friendship, our two countries share unconditional trust and common global strategic interests of peaceful development," said Nikolić.
Looking ahead, Nikolić stressed Serbia's commitment to supporting regional cooperation within the BRI. Nikolić highlighted the ongoing cross-border cooperation projects, cultural exchanges, technology transfer, healthcare initiatives, and economic cooperation, which contribute to regional cooperation, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe.
Serbia aims to position itself as a hub for cooperation in the region and advocates for the construction of a high-speed railway linking Central and Southeastern Europe, promoting multilateral actions for the benefit of all participants.
At last, Nikolić said that China and Serbia are developing and strengthening the Iron Friendship, which will reinforce the bridges to all other nations that want the world to be a better place to live and all those who can be nonbiased and see the potential of the Initiative and who have the integrity to make decisions for their benefit and the benefit of humanity.
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