Türkiye, Serbia taking firm steps to expand bilateral trade to $5B

In 2021, trade volume was about $2B, but in 1st quarter of 2022, it increased by 31%, says Turkish foreign minister.

Türkiye, Serbia taking firm steps to expand bilateral trade to $5B

Türkiye and Serbia are taking concrete steps to expand bilateral trade volume to $5 billion through 2022.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made the remarks during a joint news conference with his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selakovic in Belgrade.

"Our economic and commercial relations are progressing rapidly. The common goal set by our presidents is clear. The goal is to increase our trade volume to 5 billion (US) dollars. We are taking firm steps towards this goal," said the visiting Turkish foreign minister.

"In 2021, our trade volume reached almost 2 billion dollars," he said, adding that "in the first quarter of 2022, we recorded an increase of 31%."

"Turkish business people's investments in Serbia increased from $1 million to $300 million in 10 years," he said.

Cavusoglu said during the meeting that they also discussed cooperation in the field of energy and tourism.

"The number of reciprocal tourists is increasing. We expect the number of Serbian tourists visiting our country this year will exceed 300,000," he said, hoping that this figure will increase further with the implementation of removing visa requirements for citizens of both countries.

People from both nations would be able to enter each other's countries using only their identity cards, according to Cavusoglu, and an agreement will be signed soon by the two countries' interior ministers.

Serbia will be the 6th country where Turkish citizens would be able to travel with their ID, joining Northern Cyprus, Moldova, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Georgia.

Cavusoglu recalled that Türkiye opened a consulate general in Novi Pazar, southwestern Serbia, in 2021, becoming the first country to inaugurate a consulate there.

"Our consular services network is expanding in Serbia. Last year, we opened our Novi Pazar Consulate General with my friend Nikola. This year, we continue to work to open a Consular Office in the city of Nis to help Turkish people living in Europe to get services if they needed," he said.

Earlier, Türkiye and Serbia signed an agreement to combat illegal cultural heritage trafficking in order to fight the smuggling of cultural treasures.
With the agreement, Türkiye and Serbia have further strengthened the contractual basis of their cooperation, Cavusoglu said.

Nikola Selakovic, for his part, said relations between Serbia and Türkiye are at a historic peak.

"We are very satisfied with the upward trend of these relations, and we can say that in the previous 142 years of our diplomatic relations, they are now at their historical peak," Selakovic added.

He noted that during his talks with Cavusoglu, they exchanged views on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.

"For us, any solution that is reached through dialogue is acceptable, with respect for all three constituent peoples and both entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina," he said.

Following the meeting, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was evacuated due to a bomb hoax planted in the building.

Since the onset of the Russia-Ukraine war on Feb. 24, multiple bomb threats have been reported in Serbia, with the first ones targeting planes from Belgrade to Moscow as well as airports.

Over the last two months, shopping malls and other public facilities have also received bomb threats.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has alleged that the threats are the work of Ukraine's foreign intelligence services and an unidentified EU country.

Hüseyin Demir