Macron to Serbia: I’m here to open new page, new partnership in our relations

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Source: Tanjug/Predsedništvo Srbije

After eight months of delay caused by problems at home, Emmanuel Macron, the French President, arrives in Belgrade on Monday for a two-day official visit expected to patch up recent disagreements between Serbia and France, otherwise traditional friends, N1 reported.

Macron’s plane touched down at the Belgrade airport at 3:30 pm on Monday, starting the first such official visit by a French head of state in 18 years, N1 reported.

“This is a significant moment of our common history, it has many symbols,” Macron said at the airport. “We celebrated the end of the Great War this year, and today we celebrate 180 years of diplomatic relations, our long and common history which obliges us for the future.”

He added he came to open a new page in a mutual relationship, to see President Vucic, Serbia’s Government, businesspeople, but also the people of Serbia to whom he wished to pass on how great friendship France had for Serbia.

Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic welcomed Macron, and the two officially unwrapped a board marking the official start of modernisation of the Belgrade ‘Nikola Tesla’ airport which is in the 25-year-long concession of the French Vinci company.
Addressing his hosts at the airport, Macron said he and his delegations came to renew traditionally friendly relations with Serbia, adding he came to hear what Serbia had to say.

Serbia’s capital is decorated with French and Serbian flags along the route Macron is going to pass, while the central city’s Kalemegdan Park will welcome the French President with inscriptions in French.

There, next to the Gratitude to France monument, the two presidents are scheduled to address people.

Belgrade expects from one of the main leaders within the European Union to detail his resentment toward the bloc’s enlargement before the internal EU problems are settled, and to put more pressure on Pristina to lift or suspend the 100 percent import taxes on goods from Serbia and Bosnia.

 According to the Paris Figaro daily, Macron’s visit, the first of a French head of state since 2001 and Jacques Chirac, is a renewal of “the distanced links.” The paper has asked whether the French head of state will restore relations with “a different Serbia” in which people protest demanding freedom and condemn nepotism?

The Beta news agency Brussels correspondent Dragan Blagojevic told N1 morning programme he expected Macron to reiterate that the EU should first stabilise itself to be ready for new members.

Earlier media speculations were that Macron’s coming to Belgrade, the only city he will visit in the region, is his attempt to recover the importance Paris will have in the Western Balkans.

Macron is widely seen as a successor to the outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the most influential politician in the EU.

As a sign of great respect, the city authorities announced that one Belgrade’s street would be named after the French WW I Général Pierron de Mondésir, who led the evacuation of the exhausted Serbian army from the banks of Albania to the Greek island of Corfu.

He sent over 4,000 Serbian children to medical treatment, recovery and education in France and some 1,000 young men to study at the Sorbonne University.