Serbia builds more bridges with China
Before becoming the Serbian ambassador to China less than two months ago, Milan Bacevic was the minister of natural resources, mining and spatial planning in Belgrade.
His title has changed, but one mission has not: seeking Chinese investment, especially in infrastructure.
Bacevic's endeavors in that field will be boosted by Premier Li Keqiang's trip to Serbia on Monday, the first by a Chinese premier to the Balkan country in 28 years.
During his visit, Li was due to meet with the Serbian president and prime minister, and he will represent China at a meeting with leaders from Central and Eastern European countries.
"A great number" of agreements will be signed during the Serbia trip, covering areas including infrastructure, civil aviation, energy, finance, agriculture and education, Bacevic told China Daily in Beijing recently. "We welcome more Chinese companies to come and invest in Serbia."
Among Central and Eastern European countries, Serbia has the largest number of joint infrastructure projects with China, he said. A major transport infrastructure and logistics center is expected to be established in Belgrade, he said.
Bacevic highlighted the construction of a 1.5-km bridge by China Road and Bridge Corp over the Danube, Europe's second-longest river, which flows through Serbia. Li is expected to attend the completion ceremony for the bridge in Belgrade.
Connectivity is also high on the agenda of the leaders' meeting, as infrastructure was damaged during the conflicts of the 1990s.
A "new breakthrough" is expected to be made with the Belgrade-Budapest Railway that China is building with Serbia and Hungary, Bacevic said.
The countries agreed to build the railway, the first cross-border infrastructure project in the Central and Eastern Europe, last year.
China has already confirmed its constructive role in the region, especially since the region has a high need for infrastructure, and China has the financial resources, know-how and experience to help achieve the goal, Bacevic said.
Li's visit will also promote relations between China and the European Union, he said, adding that Serbia can play a key role in that process and with regard to Beijing's proposed trans-Eurasia Silk Road Economic Belt.
Serbia, which is situated at the crossroads between central and southeast Europe, is an EU candidate country. Its free trade agreements with the EU and Russia, among others, offer access to a substantial market for Chinese companies that invest in the landlocked nation.
"Li's visit will be important for Serbia's foreign policy priority - its EU path - because China's position as a major power is important for both Serbia and the EU," he said.