In Serbia, Canada is represented by the Embassy of Canada in Belgrade. Serbia is represented in Canada by its Embassy in Ottawa, a Consulate in Toronto, and an Honourary Consul in Vancouver.
Relations between Canada and Serbia re-developed quickly following the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in October 2000, and show potential for continued growth and development. Canada strongly supports Serbia’s aspiration for EU membership. In 2006, Canada welcomed Serbia’s admission into NATO’s Partnership for Peace program and to La Francophonie as an observer. Canada is encouraged by the democratic and economic transformation of Serbia and its commitment to achieving greater integration and co-operation with the European Union and its institutions. The international community, including Canada, is helping Serbia make a successful transition to a free market democracy, develop strong regional cooperation with its neighbours, and maintain its own citizens' security.
Canada’s priorities in Serbia include: increased commercial and economic co-operation between the two countries, encouraging continued democratic reform and good governance, observance of the rule of law and combating corruption, respect for human and minority rights, and assistance in security sector reform.
Bilateral Agreements and High-Level Visits
Canada and Serbia enjoy strong people-to-people relationships and benefit from cultural and academic exchanges. In 2006, Canada and Serbia signed a Readmission Agreement and later that same year, an Air Transport Agreement, which allowed for the resumption of direct flights between the two countries in June 2007. In 2010, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the prosecution of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. In addition to this, Canada and Serbia signed a Double Taxation Agreement in April 2012, followed by a Social Security Agreement in April 2013.
Negotiations of a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) were concluded in July 2013, and the agreement was signed by Minister Baird during his September 2014 visit to Belgrade. During this visit, Minister Baird and Serbian Minister of Trade Ljajić also jointly launched the Canada South-Eastern Europe (CANSEE) – Serbian Business Association, with the expectation that it will serve as another useful and practical channel to facilitate bilateral trade and investment.
Senate Speaker Noël Kinsella paid an official visit to Serbia in September 2013 and met with the Serbian President and then Prime Minister and current Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić. Minister Baird visited Serbia in September 2014 and met with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ivica Dačić, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications Rasim Ljajić.
Canadian Development Assistance
In 2009, CIDA officially closed its office in the Western Balkans. The former Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) provided technical assistance to the Balkan region, and played a significant role in areas such as health, education, rule of law, gender issues, and human and minority rights, disbursing $5.26 million in funding during its last year of operation (2008-2009). Currently, Canada Fund monies are available to finance projects within Serbia.
In June 2014, in response to massive floods in the Balkans, Canada announced $800,000 in funding to help meet the needs of thousands of people affected by the flooding and subsequent landslides in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). In addition, following the visit of Minister Baird to Serbia, Canada has approved an additional allocation of up to CAN $500,000 for the flooded areas.
Military and Defense Cooperation
To signal its support for Serbia’s ongoing military and security sector reforms, Canada formally invited Serbia (then Serbia and Montenegro) to participate in the Military Training Co-operation Programme (MTCP) in 2004. The MTCP is administered by the Department of National Defence to train officers from participating countries in the areas of language proficiency (English and French), peace support operations, staff duties and professional development. Canada, in cooperation with the Netherlands, has supported a civil-military cooperation/relations (CIMIC/CMR) seminar in Serbia annually since 2008. The latest of these seminars was conducted in October 2014.
Trade and Investment
Canada-Serbia trade has increased significantly over the past 10 years. In 2013, Canadian merchandise exports to Serbia totalled $12.2 million (lead categories are machinery and electrical equipment and machinery), up slightly from $10.5 million in 2012 and $9.5 million in 2011. Imports from Serbia have jumped from $14.0 million in 2012 to $57.4 million in 2013 (lead categories are motor vehicles and parts).
Investment remains one of the main drivers of economic relations, and important Canadian investments have been made or committed in the areas of real estate and construction, tourism, agriculture, informatics, and energy and mining, among others. Opportunities for further Canadian investment include road, rail, and urban transportation infrastructure upgrading and construction.