Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 August 2019

Serbia offer military hardware and training for the UAE

Military training and defence high on priority list as two nations put diplomatic tensions over Kosovo behind them.
Tomislav Nikolic, president of Serbia, was in Abu Dhabi to discuss cooperation with the UAE on matters including defence and agriculture.  Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Tomislav Nikolic, president of Serbia, was in Abu Dhabi to discuss cooperation with the UAE on matters including defence and agriculture. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // Renewed cooperation between Serbia and the UAE will include military training and defence equipment, Serbia’s president has said.

Tomislav Nikolic met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, during a two-day official visit.

“We will expand our cooperation in numerous areas, even in the military domain,” said Mr Nikolic on Monday.

“We’ve offered the UAE to train their officers in our military academy, which is one of the most renowned institutions of this kind in the world.”

The agreement would also include Serbian development of high-tech defence equipment for the UAE, he said.

Serbia’s military academy is two centuries old, with cadets from dozens of countries including Nato members, Serbian ambassador Milos Perisic has said.

Diplomatic relations between the two countries were strained for four years after the UAE recognised Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008.

Despite those tensions, Mr Nikolic said relations between the two countries date back decades to the former Yugoslavia, when Serbians were in a better position.

“Serbia has for a while neglected its old friendships,” he said.

“We’re trying to renew these friendships, to strengthen them and to move on from the point where our predecessors left off.”

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Serbia this year.

Mr Nikolic said that he felt a connection while visiting Abu Dhabi.

“It is a feeling that you are among people who are like you, who are similar to you,” he said.

The two countries’ resources complement each other and should be connected, Mr Nikolic said.

They also have similar traditional values regarding family and education, as well as moderate outlooks on religion, he added.

“We are situated in one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Balkan peninsula. We have four seasons, and healthy soil, air and water.

“But we were affected by the economic crisis because major actors spent other people’s money.

“We placed our trust in the world system, especially the banking system, which turned out to be a major fraud,” the president said.

Serbia can also offer agricultural support to the UAE, he said.

“We can produce not only food, but other agricultural produce that the Emirates need,” said Mr Nikolic.

Serbia also plans to advance cooperation with the UAE through technological production that the country could invest in, he added.

“In the talks, we maintain that Serbia has never asked to obtain anything for free,” said Mr Nikolic.

“We want to work and all the money that is invested in production will be returned.”

Mr Nikolic took office in May 2012 after winning the election over Boris Tadic.

He is founder of the Serbian Progressive Party.

Mr Nikolic said he spent four days in the UAE and also attended the Formula 1 Race of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit.

About 5,000 Serbians live in the UAE, Mr Perisic said.

lcarroll@thenational.ae

Updated: November 25, 2014 04:00 AM

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