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Serbia: Openings to highlight Turkish leader's visit

BELGRADE, Serbia 

A series of landmark opening ceremonies is likely to take center stage in a two-day visit by Turkey’s president to Serbia starting on Monday.

Arriving on Monday for a two-day visit, Recep Tayyip Erdogan will mark the 140th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Turkey and Serbia.

Erdogan is scheduled to meet his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic and together take part in the second meeting of the bilateral High-Level Cooperation Council. The presidents will also discuss bilateral issues and sign a range of agreements.

They are also expected to attend the Turkey-Serbia Business Forum.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Turkish Ambassador Tanju Bilgic said Erdogan's visit carries great economic and commercial importance.

"In 2011 Turkish investment in Serbia totaled €1 million, but today it tops $200 million,” he said.

“A large number of [Turkish firms’] factories have opened. We will open six factories and hold a groundbreaking ceremony for a seventh during the visit of our president."

Bilgic said the most important part of the visit is the groundbreaking ceremony for a highway connecting the Serbian capital Belgrade with Sarajevo, the capital of neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina, a highway which has already been dubbed "the peace road."

"All preparations have been completed before his visit. A Turkish company is carrying out this project. The work has even begun,” he explained.

The ceremony will be held with the participation of Erdogan, Vucic, and members of the Presidential Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he added.

Bilgic stressed that several agreements will be signed and opening ceremonies will be held with Erdogan's participation for projects completed by the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) in Serbia.

Erdogan is expected to remotely cut the ribbon on three different projects carried out by TIKA, Turkey’s state aid agency: The Ram Fortress, an Ottoman castle restored by TIKA, the Valide Sultan Mosque in Sjenica, and a court building in Novi Pazar.

The openings will be done via videoconferencing during the highway groundbreaking ceremony.

Turkey's first lady Emine Erdogan will inaugurate the Sokollu Mehmed Pasha Fountain and a staircase at Belgrade Castle, both of them restored by TIKA. The first lady will also meet with Serbia’s environment minister at Turkey’s Belgrade Embassy, the first Turkish mission worldwide to implement the Zero Waste Project she has spearheaded.

The two-day visit will also include the Tripartite Leaders' Summit of Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Serbia. The members of Bosnia-Herzegovina's Presidential Council will also attend the summit, which is set for Monday.

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