Ambassador: India continues to back Serbia

BELGRADE -- Indian Ambassador to Belgrade Ajay Swarup says his country will continue to support Serbia's sovereignty and territorial integrity over Kosovo.

"India will support Serbia on the issue of protection of her sovereignty in all international forums. Our position is well known to other countries, and our position in the international relations today is such that India's opinion is respected," the ambassador told Tanjug.

He also reminded that India backed and continues to back UNSCR 1244, and has recently voted in favor of Serbia's UN General Assembly initiative to ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ) whether the Kosovo Albanian declaration of independence was legal.

"The Indian government believes that the problem of Kosovo should have been solved via peaceful means, finding a mutually acceptable solution through dialogue," Swarup says.

India's top diplomatic envoy in Serbia also said that the principle of self-determination, which some have cited in favor of Kosovo's declaration, "was relevant at the time of liberation from colonial rule", but not today.

He also said that the two countries have discussed joint efforts to fight terrorism.

"Serbia is ready to support India's efforts in the fight against terrorism in the international arena. We are already considering some UN initiatives. Terrorism cannot be solved individually, but only by working together."

Swarup described the relations between Belgrade and New Delhi as excellent, with no open issues, but added that more needs to be done to improve economic cooperation, especially in the current circumstances of the world crisis.

The ambassador believes that the crisis which has hit the EU – one of the key trade partners for both Serbia and India – provides both countries with an opportunity to asses the importance of forging closer and more direct economic ties.

Trade between India and Serbia has been growing since 2000, he revealed, "but more needs to be done".

"Serbian companies could sell food products in India, especially meat products. Your companies could also take part in numerous infrastructural projects."

"We are building thousands of kilometers of roads, our ports, airports and bridges need modernization, and this is something that your companies have been engaged in before," Swarup reminded.

The ambassador also said that the Indian embassy in Belgrade has a business center where companies that wish to do business with India can find all the relevant information.