Olena Zelenska: Ukraine wants to increase its cultural presence in the Balkans

Ukraine's First Lady Olena Zelenska said that her country wants to increase its cultural presence in the Balkans, particularly in Serbia, BGNES reports.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and Zelenska are on an official visit to Belgrade at the invitation of President Aleksandar Vucic's wife, Tamara Vucic.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the day diplomatic relations were established between Ukraine and Serbia.

The visit to Belgrade is marked by cultural diplomacy projects.

Kyiv National University and the University of Belgrade signed an agreement on research, educational and cultural cooperation.

Later today, Kuleba will hold a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Milos Vucevic.

"Our interaction has been going on for several years. As an active member of the First Ladies and Gentlemen Summit in September 2023, Ms. Vucic adheres to a core principle of our community: even soft power must be effective, especially when it comes to saving lives and restoring justice," Olena Zelenska wrote on Facebook.

"Thanks to our agreements, Serbia provided ambulances to Ukraine - they arrived in the first year of the invasion when ambulances were in short supply and were provided to the emergency medical care centers in Kharkiv and Cherkasy," she added.

Together with the First Lady of Serbia, the foreign ministers of the two countries - Dmytro Kuleba and Marko Djuric - opened a Ukrainian shelf in the Belgrade library, and later an audio guide in Ukrainian in the Belgrade Fortress.

"The vocation of libraries and books is to preserve knowledge, culture and history. The Ukrainian bookshelf will also preserve the connection of Ukrainians living in Belgrade with their home," said the First Lady of Ukraine.

"I believe that the Ukrainian heritage will be housed in the Belgrade library for a long time to tell the testimonies of Ukraine, creating understanding between our countries - strong and lasting. Ukraine should increase its presence in the cultural space of the Balkans and Serbia in particular. Cultural diplomacy projects should contribute to this," she added.

The visit takes place 10 days after the formation of the new Serbian government following the December elections.

Belgrade has refused to join Western sanctions against Moscow.

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has met his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky three times since the start of the war in Ukraine, always on the sidelines of international forums. / BGNES