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Canada-Serbia Relations

In Serbia, Canada is represented by the Embassy of Canada in Belgrade.

Serbia is represented in Canada by its Embassy in Ottawa.

Relations between Canada and Serbia (formerly, with Montenegro, part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the State Union of Serbia & Montenegro) re-developed quickly following the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic’s regime in October 2000. 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.

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 are also in the final stages of completing agreements on Social Security and Double Taxation.

In July 2010, the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Honourable Peter Milliken and a delegation of MPs visited Belgrade and met with senior officials from the Serbian government including President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic. The visit has strengthened bilateral relations and will be followed by more high-level visits in both directions.

Canada continues to encourage Serbia to cooperate fully with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and applauded the July 2008 arrest of former Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic in Belgrade.

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 methodology and practice of peacekeeping and to provide foreign language instruction. Canada, in cooperation with the Netherlands, has supported a number of defence seminars in Serbia, including two regional Civil–Military Cooperation (CIMIC) seminars in the fall of 2008 and 2009.  Owing to the past success of these events, a third seminar is scheduled to take place this coming autumn.

In 2009, CIDA officially closed its office in the Western Balkans. The 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 small projects within Serbia.

Canada-Serbia trade has increased almost tenfold over the past 5 years. In 2009, bilateral trade in goods totalled just under $60 million. In addition, Canadian investment commitments in the region (including Montenegro) reached more than USD$500 million in 2007 and have been increasing steadily. In June 2010, Canadian engineering company SNC-Lavalin and the Government of Serbia signed a major investment contract worth roughly CAD$220 million. Other important Canadian investments have recently 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.

July 2010

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