I have had a sudden rash of inquiries from Serbian media about a trip I made last month to Belgrade, so rather than deal with them all individually, I thought I would put a short statement on here. Apologies to the journalist who asked first a couple of weeks ago.
‘At the government’s request I was asked to meet government ministers and officials and to discuss strategic and communications challenges. In particular we focused on Serbia’s continuing efforts to achieve EU membership and the role that effective proactive communications could play in helping meet that goal. We also discussed the way the media landscape is being transformed by technology and globalisation and the challenges and opportunities they present.’
It was particularly interesting for me to go there, because my main prior experience of Belgrade was when I was overseeing NATO comms during the Kosovo conflict, and the current PM was involved in the Milosevic information campaign. Indeed it is not that many years ago that I was advised against travelling there. But I received a warm welcome and found the short trip fascinating. I got the sense the government is serious about the reforms needed to make progress towards membership of the EU.
I find the Balkans a particularly interesting region. It is also hugely important to some of the big challenges facing the world more widely. I hope to go again.