homepage_name! > Editions > Number 097 > Ambassador Sweden

Ambassador of Sweden, H. E. Jan Lundin

The Kingdom of Sweden

A hundred years of diplomatic relations between Sweden and Serbia

Sweden is an exciting country, especially during the summer when there is constant light, which can be amazing. Stockholm is one of the most beautiful capitals in the world, it is surrounded by water, and numerous interesting museums and the attractive Swedish foodcertainly make it a must-see destination for travelers. In the far north of Sweden, there is fantastic wilderness bigger than anywhereelse in Europe, except Russia, and for those who are interested in wildlife and hiking, Sweden can be a very exciting destination. If you like sailing, there is no country like Sweden for trying the art of sailing.

We had the honor to talk to His Excellency Mr. Jan Lundin, the ambassador of Sweden in Serbia.

1.Your Excellency, how do you feel about being in Belgrade? Can you tell us about your impressions of Serbia?

My impression of Serbia is very positive. I am married to a woman from Belgrade and I have been enjoying the Serbian lifestyle for a long time now, as well as what Serbia has to offer in terms of good climate, friendly people and great food.

2.How long have you held the position of an ambassador in Serbia, and what was the course of your diplomatic career before you came to Serbia?

I have been in Serbiafor a year, and prior to coming here, I have spent six years as the Head of Secretary at an international organization for regional cooperation in the Baltic Sea region. Before that, I have been working as a diplomat in Berlin and Moscow for many years, and I have actually been in Belgrade twice before. The last time was 15 years ago, when I was the Deputy Head of Mission, and before that, back in the mid 1980s, in a country called Yugoslavia, when I worked as the third secretary at the Embassy of Sweden.

3.This year we are celebrating an anniversary – it has been a hundred years since the diplomatic relationship between Sweden and Serbia was established. What is the current diplomatic and economic cooperation of our two countries like, and what was it like in the past? What should be changed in Serbia in order to improve the cooperation?

We have good diplomatic and economic cooperation. I think that, right now, the economic exchange, such as trade and investments, is steadily increasing and we are looking forward to the opening of an IKEA store in Belgrade in August this year. In terms of necessary changes, I think that Serbia has to work primarily on improving the rule of law, so that companies can be assured that if they have a problem, they can go to court and get fair treatment. I think that many companies do not feel that this is the case today.

4.Today, Serbia is a candidate country – the negotiations started in January, 2014. In your opinion, how far along is Serbia on the path towards the EU, and what will be crucial for Serbia to become a member state?

It is difficult to say where Serbia is on the road towards the EU membership, but it is clear that the start of the negotiations was a big step forward. Every new chapter in the EU acquis that is being opened is another small step forward. Concerning the required actions of Serbia – the implementation of the EU acquis needs to be continued, including the improvement of the relations with Kosovo. I think Serbia is generally well positioned to become a member of the EU despite all the improvements that need to be made regarding, for example, the justice system and the rule of law.

5.How do you envision Serbia’s EU integration in the future, and do you think that, upon joining the EU, Serbia will become appealing to investors, not just from Sweden, but from other countries as well?

I think that Serbia is already attractive to foreign investors through its comparatively low wage level, its European culture and its comparatively well-educated population, as well as its decent infrastructure. We are observing a steady increase of foreign investments, both from Sweden and other countries. I believe that this process has already started and will not change radically if Serbia becomes a member of the EU. One has to be aware that the journey is just as important as the final destination.

6.This summer, we are expecting the opening of Ikea, which was yearned for in Serbia for such a long time. What do you think the arrival of Ikea in Serbia means and what can the citizens expect?

The most important thing about that is that 300 young and ambitious people will work for IKEA in Belgrade. It is also very important because it will be the headquarters in South East Europe, which tells us something about the importance of Belgrade and Serbia in the South-European context. I believe that the opening of IKEA will improve the furniture industry in Serbia because IKEA will certainly be interested in buying parts of their furniture from Serbian manufacturers. This will also bring prosperity and jobs to Serbia. I also think that the way IKEA manages the company and its operations will be an interesting and positive experience for Serbia because IKEA takes good care of its employees and the environmental impact of what is produced and sold. Serbian families will as well receive high-quality furniture in return for their money. IKEA’s furniture is inexpensive, but of high quality. My flat is mainly furnished with IKEA furniture and I think the same is true for most Swedes.

7.What is the nature of the foreign trade cooperation between our countries and which industries in Serbia have the most potential? What does Serbia export to Sweden, and what does it import from Sweden?

The trade between Sweden and Serbia is approaching 200 million euros every year, with slightly more export from Sweden to Serbia than vice versa. Sweden exports paper, cars and trucks. Serbia exports car parts, packages and berries, as well as metal parts for industry. I think the trade will increase when IKEA starts its operation here.

8.When it comes to investments, how do investors from Sweden see the Serbian market? What are the most influential companies that have made investments here?

The investors fromSweden, with the exception of IKEA, are still hesitant when it comes to the Serbian market. There are exceptions, of course, like Tetra Pak, which has been here for 20 years now and has a good world class production company producing more than 3 billion packages and supplying a big part of Tetra Pak for the entire world. This is a very well organized and highly functional company. I think Serbia is attractive to Swedish investors and I believe there will be more Swedish investments in the future. However, one has to be careful when it comes to the rule of law, as I mentioned earlier, in order to avoid repeating past mistakes, such as Agrobanka’s.

9.Around 80 Swedish companies are present in Serbia in various ways. In your opinion, what does that tell us about the business conditions here?

It is difficult to put this figure into context. I believe that every new company opening up here will be a positive sign. We have small Swedish companies establishing themselves here as well. For example, a Swedish vineyard is opening in Vojvodina, and there is also a Swedish company dealing with honey. Small companies deserve our attention as well and I think that they are just as important for our economic relations.

10.Can you tell us about the relationship between Serbia and Sweden in the fields of science, culture and education?

We have fairly good exchanges when it comes to culture, thanks to the large Serbian community in Sweden, which is partly engaged in culture. We are now organizing film festivals and seminars at the end of this year in early December and we are creating a network of mentors for culture enterprises, which I find very interesting. The cultural exchange between our countries is satisfactory. In terms of education, we participate in an educational fair every year where we present what Sweden can offer to Serbian students. Not many Serbian students go to Sweden to study, but we hope that more of them will do so in the future, once Serbia becomes a member of the EU, because then Serbian students will no longer have to pay for education in Sweden. For now, we can offer scholarships, but when Serbia becomes a member, these problems will disappear. In fact, my daughter is considering the option of studying in Serbia, so there is a small flow in the other direction. I also know that there are Swedish and Norwegian students studying medicine here in Serbia.

11.How would you present your country as a tourist destination? Which characteristics and sights would you highlight?

Sweden is an exciting country, especially during the summer when there is constant light, which can be amazing. Stockholm is one of the most beautiful capitals in the world, it is surrounded by water, and numerous interesting museums and the attractive Swedish food certainly make it a must-see destination for travelers. In the far north of Sweden, there is fantastic wilderness bigger than anywhere else in Europe, except Russia, and for those who are interested in wildlife and hiking, Sweden can be a very exciting destination. If you like sailing, there is no country like Sweden for trying the art of sailing.

12.What are the things you particularly like, or dislike, in Serbia? Do you plan to continue living here after the end of your mandate?

I certainly plan on spending part of my retirement in Serbia, since I enjoy life in Belgrade and my wife and I have many friends here. I enjoy the Serbian lifestyle, food and culture. Belgrade is a very creative city as well, which is why I take so much pleasure in it. I also play chess, which Serbia is not a bad place for. Regarding improvements in Serbia, I will once again mention the justice system and corruption. I believe Serbia has to work on this, but I also believe that Serbia will make improvements in these segments in the near future. Maybe once I retire, I will see a much richer Serbia than today, and I certainly hope that will be the case. I play a lot of chess and I enjoy travelling through Serbia, as well as Montenegro. My favorite memory is probably that of meeting my wife in Belgrade.

berza_title!

fondovi_title!

kursna_title!