India, Serbia to enhance bilateral cooperation to tap full potential

India and Serbia on Sunday signed agreements on plant protection and quarantine that seeks to enhance trade in fruits, vegetables and processed foods. The two countries also signed a revised air services agreement that aims to promote connectivity boosting bilateral trade and tourism, including direct air link between the two countries.

Marking a revival of the spirit of warmth and cooperation of Marshal Tito-Pandit Nehru years, vice president of India M Venkaiah Naidu addressed a special session of the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia in Belgrade on Saturday. It was in the same hallowed hall of the National Assembly of Serbia that former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru addressed world leaders while launching the Non-Alignment Movement along with the veteran leader of Yugoslavia Marshal Tito.
In his hour long address, Naidu fondly recalled the close affinity and shared vision with which leaders of both the countries played a key role in launching the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). 
He said “Relations between the two countries are deeply rooted in history. From the early days of Independent India, both countries laid great emphasis on NAM and contributed much to creation of a new and democratic world order, particularly for the post-colonial third world that challenged the concept of bipolar world. The changes in global geo-politics now again give us an opportunity to work together for mutual benefit and for sharing prosperity with others”.
Referring to the International Day of Democracy on Friday, Naidu gave a detailed account of the steady growth and consolidation of parliamentary democracy in India. “Over the years, Indian Parliament has evolved as a democratic forum that attentively listens to fascinatingly complex voices from different parts of the vast country and responds to diverse concerns with agility,” he said.
Naidu quoted Pandit Nehru from his speech at the same venue in 1961 and said Nehru gave a call ‘’for building in our countries societies where freedom is real. Freedom is essential because freedom will give us strength and enable us to build prosperous societies,” highlighting the importance of democracy for participatory development.
The vice president said Marshal Tito, one of the three key figures of NAM, was also a household name in India when he (Naidu) was a school student. He received a standing ovation on the conclusion of his address to the law makers of Serbia. 
Naidu, who is on an official visit to Serbia, held detailed discussions on a range of bilateral and multilateral issues with President Aleksander Vucic, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and Speaker of the National Assembly of Serbia Maja Gojkovic besides addressing a business forum.
During the joint media briefing along with Naidu, President of Serbia Aleksander Vucic complimented the Indian political leadership for stellar economic results. He said “India is witnessing exceptional economic progress. We are happy for the country who has been our longtime friend and well wisher”. He also thanked India for recognising Serbia’s territorial integrity. Vucic stressed that Serbia is keen to engage with India on agriculture, pharmacy, IT and generic medicines. He evinced interest in defence cooperation.
During his talks with the top leaders and businessmen of Serbia, Naidu gave a detailed account of the rapid strides being made by India in various fields, including an enabling, predictable and reform oriented financial and investment eco-systems offering  mutually beneficial partnerships. Voicing concerns over the menace of terrorism, he called for early finalisation of draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (CCIT).   
The vice president noted that both the countries had difficult periods in recent history but have emerged stronger from each of these crises because of the courage to reform. “The economic reforms in India and in Serbia in the 1990s have effectively converted some of the major challenges into opportunities” he observed.
On the occasion of 70 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, Serbia Post and India Post have released commemorative stamps on renowned Serbian physicist and innovator Nikola Tesla and Swami Vivekananda. Naidu noted that Swami Vivekananda’s thoughts and ideas left a deep impression on Tesla’s works.
Both countries also signed two agreements – one on plant protection and quarantine that seeks to enhance trade in fruits, vegetables and processed foods; and the second, on revised air services agreement that aims at promoting connectivity boosting trade and tourism including direct air link between the two countries.
On his second overseas visit as vice president, Naidu will also visit Malta and Romania before returning home on Friday next week. On his first such visit, Naidu visited the Latin American Countries of Guatemala, Panama and Peru.