Official visit to Serbia
Today, His Royal Highness The Crown Prince is conducting an official visit to Serbia. The Crown Prince has a busy programme in the capital city of Belgrade, which he is visiting for the first time.
The day began at Telenor’s offices with the launch of a new module for the company’s mobile bank in Serbia.
Mobile banking services
Norwegian companies have been among the major investors in Serbia in the past ten years, with Telenor as the largest among them. Today, Crown Prince Haakon undertook the symbolic opening of a new functionality for Telenor’s mobile bank. With this new module, Telenor Banka is now the only bank in Serbia where customers can open an account without having to be physically present in the bank’s offices. The aim is for innovations like this to drive the Serbian economy forward.
Met with young Serbs
After the opening, the Crown Prince had the opportunity to meet young Serbs affiliated with Telenor Youth Forum and students studying Norwegian at the Institute of Scandinavian Languages at the University of Belgrade. In his remarks, Crown Prince Haakon spoke about relations between Norway and Serbia and the importance of cooperation and entrepreneurship. He then talked with the students on their visions of Serbia’s future and the challenges they are facing today:
“Most of all I look forward to hearing from you guys; what your thoughts are about how Serbia is today. What your hopes and dreams are for the future – both for yourselves and for your country? What are the most pressing issues that you are feeling today and how will you contribute in solving them? Because it is not always about the other people, the people that are not here. It is about you and us here in this room. How can we work together to create a better world for the future.”
Some of the young people who attended today’s meeting will represent Serbia at the Telenor Youth Summit to be held on 8–11 December in Oslo.
After the meetings at Telenor, the Crown Prince attended a meeting with Mr Ivica Dačić, the First Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia and Minister of Foreign Affairs. The meeting was followed by an official luncheon.
Focus on human rights
On 21 January 2014, Serbia began negotiations on EU membership. Issues relating to the rule of law, freedom of the press, anti-discrimination and protection of minorities are high on the agenda.
Today, Crown Prince Haakon undertook the official opening of Human Rights House Belgrade, which will be home to various Serbian human rights organisation. The house is one of several projects co-funded by Norwegian development aid.
Another is the refurbishment of St Rocco in Zemun.
Side by side
There are a number of churches of different denominations in the Zemun district, one of which is the Roman Catholic chapel of St Rocco. The chapel was a target for various extremist groups during the Balkan wars in the 1990s and has been closed for years. Crown Prince Haakon was in attendance when the church was re-opened after extensive renovation in a formal ceremony led by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Belgrade.
A Serbian Orthodox church is located right next door to the Roman Catholic chapel. Following the re-opening ceremony at St Rocco, the Crown Prince also visited this church, where he was given a guided tour by a Serbian Orthodox priest.
After the visits to the churches, there was time for a short sightseeing tour of historic Belgrade.
This evening the Crown Prince will attend an official dinner hosted by the Norwegian Ambassador in Belgrade. The guest list reflects the extensive cooperation between Norway and Serbia in various spheres of society.