Djuric: We are at a turning point in history when the fate of the Serbs is being decided

Marko Đurić
Source: Kosovo Online

The conference of the Serbian diaspora in the United States of America, the first of its kind in this century, was successfully held in Washington - organized by the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia.

Symbolically called "Strengthening the Ties", the meeting, according to Ambassador Marko Djuric, was intended to be the initial impulse for future new gatherings of the Serbs in the US, according to the embassy's announcement.

Opening the Conference, Ambassador Djuric pointed out that he was very pleased by the fact that representatives of the Serbian community had come from all over America - from California, Florida, Alaska, all the way to Hawaii, almost from all 50 American states - assessing that the participants were the real heroes of this meeting.

"What also fills me with happiness is that this gathering would not have happened if the awareness of the importance of our gathering here had not matured in Serbia. For this gathering and for working with our people in the diaspora, we received not only support but also a direct order from the highest state leadership of Serbia - President Aleksandar Vucic and the Government, to whom we also owe thanks for their support in organizing this conference," Djuric said.

He also pointed out that the Conference was only a modest beginning, and that we had colossal tasks and a huge responsibility ahead of us, especially in this critical time for our homeland.

"We are at a turning point in history, when the fate of the Serbs is being decided in all parts of our historical ethnic space - from Belgrade, our northern plain, to Kosovo and Metohija, and to other parts of the former Yugoslavia where the Serbs live," Djuric said.

He emphasized that in such conditions it was necessary that in the most powerful country of Western civilization, all our people should be representatives of the interests of their people.

"I invite you to organize ourselves so that we can discuss with the elected representatives in your districts, in your communities, how to support the improvement of cooperation between Serbia and the US," Djuric added.

Bishop Irinej of Eastern America expressed his gratitude to the participants of the Conference for the great response to the invitation of Ambassador Djuric and the Embassy, saying that all those present actually had responded to the invitation of their country.

"I am grateful that our Serbia is returning more and more to itself - to Serbia that once was, is, and will be," the bishop said, and added that this meeting was an exceptional opportunity in all possible areas of our life in America, Serbia and all over the world, that the Serbian community met regularly and thus benefits our country and our people.

Director of the Directorate for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the region, Arnaud Gouillon, assessed that the Serbian diaspora represented significant economic, cultural, and intellectual potential.

"When I talk about potential, I'm not only talking about people who are returning - and there are more and more of them because Serbia is developing, especially in the last ten years - and with their knowledge and abilities they bring new ideas, ways of thinking and doing business to Serbia, but I am also thinking of all those who live outside of Serbia and who are the real link between Serbia and the world," Gouillon underlined.

Among other things, he expressed his belief that one of the results of the Conference would be the soon reaching of an agreement on the opening of several Serbian language schools in America.

Conveying the greetings of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Zeljka Cvijanovic and the President of the Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik, Ambassador Bojan Vujic underlined that the leadership of the Republika Srpska had for years been dedicated to strengthening the ties between the Serbian diaspora in the US and their families and friends in the Republika Srpska.

As he stated, they recognized the vital importance of such efforts to hear the Serbian voice in Washington and to strengthen the ties between the Serbs and Americans.

"As Serbs in America, we can all be proud of the contributions that the Serbs have made in America - starting with Nikola Tesla, Mihajlo Pupin, Marina Abramovic, Novak Djokovic, Nikola Jokic and many others," Vujic said. He also referred to the history of positive relations, recalling that, of all the nations in the Western Balkans, only the Serbs had been allies of the United States of America in both world wars.

According to Obrad Kesic, the head of the Representation of the Republika Srpska in Washington, the gathering of the Serbian diaspora at such a Conference brings new energy back to old endeavors, while he considered it important to remember the past experiences and the work of our predecessors in terms of lessons for the future.

Consul General of Serbia in Chicago, Damjan Jovic, believes that the Conference laid the foundation for Serbian organization in America in the coming years and decades, while he conveyed to members of the diaspora the gratitude of the Republic of Serbia for all the bridges of friendship and cooperation that they built every day between our two countries.

"You are the ones who make an immeasurable contribution to the good relations between the Republic of Serbia and the US, and for that, I thank you," Jovic underlined.

He added that the success of each of our individuals represented the common success of all and a reason for joy.

"Finally, I would like to ask you that, wherever you live and work, always carry in your heart our most beautiful Serbia, Republika Srpska, and our crucified Kosovo and Metohija," Jovic concluded.

After the speeches of the main speakers, three thematic panel discussions were held, where prominent Serbian-American individuals and representatives of the most successful organizations, institutions, and companies discussed the possibilities of connecting and strengthening the cooperation of our diaspora in the US with the mother country in the fields of culture and education, economy and philanthropy.

Ambassador Richard Grenell, the former Acting Director of the US National Intelligence Service, spoke via video message in which, sending congratulations on the occasion of the Statehood Day of the Republic of Serbia, he congratulated the participants of the conference on the success of the Conference, evaluating it as a fantastic occasion for the gathering.

"I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate my friend, Ambassador Marko Djuric, on the organization of this great conference that brought together Serbian-Americans from all parts of the US in Washington," he said and expressed the hope that America and Serbia would be able to establish a completely new relationship that would be the closest so far.

"I have said that to Mr. President Vucic, my friend Aleksandar, and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, and I was personally working on it - to create great Serbian-American relations," Grenell concluded.

In a special part of the meeting, a solemn ceremony was held to award the "Partnership for Entrepreneurship" plaque to Ambassador Marko Djuric and Consul General Damjan Jovic by representatives of the business establishment of the federal state of Illinois, for their work so far in strengthening ties between the business community of Serbia and the US, as well as contribution to the renewal of existing and the construction of the new business and economic connections between our two countries.

Also, Ambassador Djuric and Arnaud Gouillon presented the prestigious award "Mother Serbia" to one of the seven Serbian engineers engaged in the "Apollo" mission within the NASA space program, David Vujic.

The conference of the Serbian diaspora in the US "Strengthening the ties" concluded with a gala reception in the new building of the Serbian Embassy in Washington, which also marked the Statehood Day of the Republic of Serbia.