Serbia–Spain relations

Serbian-Spanish relations are foreign relations between Serbia and Spain. Both countries established diplomatic relations on October 14, 1916.[1] Serbia has an embassy in Madrid. Spain has an embassy in Belgrade. Both countries are member states of the United Nations, Interpol, Council of Europe and Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Spain is member state of the European Union since 1986 and Serbia is a candidate country since 2012 negotiating its future membership which Spain is strongly supporting.[2] Spain is member state of NATO alliance while Serbia is militarily neutral country with strong historical relations with the Non-Aligned Movement.

Serbian-Spanish relations


Embassy of Serbia in Madrid
Embassy of Spain in Belgrade

Spain is one of five member states of the European Union that does not recognize unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo and is actively opposing its membership in international organisations such as UNESCO and Interpol.[3][4] In addition, Spain is supporting Serbia's insistence on establishment of Community of Serb Municipalities in Kosovo as provided by the 2013 Brussels Agreement signed under the auspices of the European Union.[5] Some explained hard Spanish position towards Kosovo by drawing parallels with its own internal issues with the Catalan independence movement and with the United Kingdom dispute over Gibraltar. Serbia strongly supported Spanish territorial integrity during the 2017 Catalan independence referendum crisis with Serbian Foreign Minister stating that Spain is one of the best international friends of Serbia.[6]

In relation to third parties, both countries supported position of Argentina in its Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom.[7][8]

Country comparison

Serbia Spain
Coat of arms
Population 7,120,666 46,354,321
Area 88,361 km2 (34,116 sq mi) 505,990 km2 (195,360 sq mi)
Population density 144.46/km2 (330/sq mi) 92/km2 (238/sq mi)
Capital Belgrade Madrid
Largest city Belgrade – 1,640,000 (2,000,000 Metro) Madrid – 3,141,991 (6,700,000 Metro)
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with regional devolved powers
Current Leader President Aleksandar Vučić
Prime Minister Ana Brnabić
Monarch Felipe VI
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez
Official languages Serbian (official provincial languages: Slovak, Hungarian, Romanian, Rusyn, Croatian) Spanish (official regional languages: Catalan, Galician, Basque, Occitan)
Main religions 84.1% Eastern Orthodoxy, 6.24% Roman Catholicism, 3.62% Islam,
2% Protestantism, 5.4% other
68% Catholic Christians, 27% not religious, 2% other religions
Ethnic groups 83% Serbs, 4% Hungarians, 2% Bosniaks,
1.5% Roma, 1% Yugoslavs, 1% Slovaks, 10% other
88% Native-born Spanish citizens, 12% immigrants

(57% of them from Spain's former colonies in Latin America, the rest are
mostly Eastern European, especially Romanians, Bulgarians, Russians and Serbs)

GDP (nominal) $50.061 billion ($6,781 per capita) US$1.864 trillion ($40,290 per capita)


After Expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs ruling Castile and Aragon many Sephardi Jews settled in Balkan provinces of what was then Ottoman Empire.[9] With the rise of nationalism among Orthodox Christians of Ottoman Empire they have organised rebellions against Muslim ruling elite starting with the 1804 Serbian Revolution against Ottoman rule. Revolution was running in parallel with the Napoleonic Wars. Process of Decline of the Ottoman Empire will continue until the end of First Balkan War in 1913 with the gradual reconquest of the Balkan peninsula by newly independent states and southward retreat of Ottoman Empire. In 1882 philosopher and senator Ángel Pulido is writing how one Sephardic merchant at the market in Belgrade told him "I am not Spanish from there [Spain], but Spanish from the East."[9] In the same year Milan I of Serbia was awarded with the Order of Charles III on the occasion of his proclamation as the King of Serbia.[9] In 1895 Đorđe Popović-Daničar have published first translation of Don Quixote into Serbian which according to him was "the best novel in the world".[9] In his translation undertaking he was helped by Sephardi Jew Hajim Davičo.[9] In 1903 Vicente Blasco Ibáñez arrived at Belgrade on the Orient Express service where he stated that city is "relatively cosmopolitan, with trams, cafes, and theaters, but full of nervous military men, women wanting to imitate French fashion and drunk orthodox priests".[9] Since 1910 Spain had one diplomatic representative in the Kingdom of Serbia, Mr Francisco Serrat i Bonastre, who will stay at that function throughout the Balkan Wars all until the 1914 and the beginning of First World War which began after the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, July Crisis and Austria-Hungary declares war on Serbia.[9]

First World War and interwar years

Serbian Campaign of World War I resulted in Serbia losing a third of its entire population.[9] After the Serbian army's retreat through Albania, which resulted in more than 200,000 deaths, the country's government together with some of its population settled at the Greek island of Corfu.[9] Spain was a neutral power in the war but one which was actively involved in mediation among the conflicting parties.[9] At one point Spain was involved in the provision and protection of 1,500 Serbian children and the release of 100 prisoners of war in Banja Luka in 1917.[9] The Serbian Government on Corfu and Spain established diplomatic relations in 1916 and in the same year the first Serbian ambassador arrived at Madrid.[9]

During the interwar years, famous Serbian poet Jovan Dučić (1919-1921) and Ivo Andrić (1928-1929, 1961 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature) were serving as ambassadors of the newly founded Kingdom of Yugoslavia to Spain.[9] At the same time Kalmi Baruh was in Spain on scholarship received from the Spanish Government studying for the post-doctoral historical studies in the Spanish center of Historical Studies, Madrid.

Spanish Civil War

Francoist Spain Period

Post-Franco Spanish-Yugoslav relations

The relations between Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Kingdom of Spain were relatively cordial since the end of Francoist period in Spain.[10] They were mostly kept at the diplomatic level as Spain was focusing on its integrations into European Community and NATO.[10] Some among the Spanish politicians were considering the option to follow the Yugoslav Non-Aligned Movement way like Malta and Cyprus did at the time.[10] Future Spanish foreign minister Miguel Ángel Moratinos served in Belgrade as a young diplomat in the 1980s.[10] Spanish presence in Yugoslavia would later be transferred to Serbia and would not be completely cut of even during the years of Sanctions against Yugoslavia.[10]

Yugoslav Wars

In 1991 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain Francisco Fernández Ordóñez proposed to the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Community to initiate a quick recognition and enlargement procedure with Yugoslavia as the only way to prevent the breakup of the country.[11] Spain preferred to be perceived as the neutral player in the region during the conflict but its foreign policy was generally sympathetic towards Serbia which was perceived as the core state of former multinational and diverse Yugoslav state.[11] It was against Spanish political instincts to recognize independence of Croatia and Slovenia at the time of Breakup of Yugoslavia, yet as a new member state of the European Community country was reluctant to break the European unity.[10] At the time, newly united Germany was the strongest advocate of independence for Croatia and Slovenia with all 12 members of the European Community, as well as Austria and Switzerland following German push for recognition.[12]

1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia

Under the leadership of José María Aznar, the Spanish Government had decided that the Spanish Armed Forces would be a part of the coalition enacting the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Out of 16 NATO member states at the time, 13 took part in the intervention. The member states that did not partake in the bombings were Iceland, which maintained no standing army; Luxemburg with a very small standing army; and Greece as the only major member state which expressed strong opposition to the intervention. 38% of Spanish citizens supported the participation of Spain and 42% of them opposed it.[9] At the same time all of the Spanish political parties in parliament, with the exception of the radical left which held 23 out of 350 seats, voted in favor of Spanish participation in NATO intervention.[11] Javier Solana was the NATO Secretary-General at the time of intervention.[11] Aznar's Government supported subsequent interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq as well.

XXI Century

On 17 February 2008 Assembly of Kosovo adopted its second unilateral declaration of independence. Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija was not under de facto control of Government of Serbia at the time of unilateral declaration of independence and was under the control of the United Nations UNMIK and NATO-led KFOR peacekeeping force missions. Spain, together with Greece, Cyprus, Romania and Slovakia among the European Union member states refused to recognize independence of Kosovo on the basis of unilateral declaration without agreement reached through the negotiations with the central government in Belgrade fearing the potential consequences of the Kosovo independence precedent for the world order. By mid-September 2009 Spain finished its complete withdrawal from the KFOR mission as it was no longer ‘status-neutral’.[10] The press and experts criticized the withdrawal but 70% of Spanish citizens viewed the withdrawal from Kosovo as a positive move.[10] Two weeks after announcing the withdrawal from KFOR, the Spanish government announced its decision to withdraw the nine Spanish policemen that where part of EULEX mission.[10]

Relations since the beginning of European integrations of Serbia

On 11 January 2009 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain Miguel Angel Moratinos urged the Government of Netherlands to unblock Serbia's Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union which at the time was already signed but its implementation had been blocked by the Netherlands.[13] After the Council's recommendation of 28 February 2012, Serbia received full candidate status on 1 March. On 28 June 2013 the European Council endorsed the Council of Ministers conclusions and recommendations to open accession negotiations with Serbia. Spain is strongly supporting Serbia's accession negotiations.[14][15] During the 2017–18 Spanish constitutional crisis on multiple occasions Serbia expressed strong support for the territorial integrity of Spain and for the actions of Spanish Government.[16] On the meeting of European External Action Service in 2018 Spanish representatives together with some of those from Visegrád Group required to get actively involved in the EU facilitated Belgrade–Pristina negotiations.[17]

Cultural relations


In his novel "Danube: A Sentimental Journey from the Source to the Black Sea", Italian novelist Claudio Magris is describing 1734 settlement of Spaniards in the town of Bečkerek in modern-day Vojvodina where they have established a so-called New Barcelona.[18] Northern Serbian city of Zrenjanin is mentioned in the novel "Waiting for Robert Capa" (under its old name of Petrovgrad) of Spanish author Susana Fortes.[19] Jewish protagonist's brothers who are running from persecution, are settling in Petrovgrad, just on the border with Romanian, because as protagonist claim, there was never tradition of antisemitism in Zrenjanin.[19]

Economic relations

Joint Spanish-Serbian Chamber of Commerce (Spanish: Camara de Comercio Hispano-Serbia, Serbian: Шпанско-српска привредна комора) was established in Madrid on July 6, 2017.[1] As its first president Oscar de la Heras was elected, and Serbian Ambassador in Spain Danko Prokić as its first honorary president.[1]

Trade[4] 2014 2015 2016 2017
Serbian export to Spain 128,500,000 € 181,700,000 € 183,200,000 € 165,000,000 €
Spanish export to Serbia 141,800,000 € 173,600,000 € 200,000,000 € 247,000,000 €

Bilateral meetings in 2007–2017 period

Spanish officials in Serbia[4]

  • 26 February 2007; Miguel Ángel Moratinos (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation) visit to Belgrade and Priština.
  • 17 and 18 September 2007; Bernat Soria (Minister of Health) attends 57th Session of the Committee Regional Office of WHO in Belgrade.
  • 10 January 2009; Miguel Ángel Moratinos (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation) visit to Belgrade.
  • 11 December 2009; Miguel Ángel Moratinos (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation) visit to Belgrade.
  • 20 April 2010; Miguel Ángel Moratinos (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation) visit to Belgrade.
  • 28 and 29 March 2011; Diego López Garrido (Secretary of State for the European Union) visit to Belgrade.
  • 14 June 2011; Trinidad Jiménez (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation) visit to Belgrade.
  • 4-6 September 2011; Juan Antonio Yañez-Barnuevo (Secretary of State for Foreign Relations) attends 50th Anniversary Non-Aligned Movement Meeting in Belgrade.
  • 14 October 2011; María Luisa Cava de Llano (Acting Ombudsman) visit to Serbia.
  • 16 March 2012; Miguel Cardena (Secretary of State for Sport) attends XII Conference of the Council of European Ministers of Sport.
  • 21 and 22 March 2012; Jorge Fernández Díaz (Minister of the Interior) visit to Serbia.
  • 21 and 22 November 2012; Fernando García Sánchez (Chief of the Defence Staff) visit to Serbia.
  • 2-4 December 2015; Ignacio Ybáñez (Secretary of State for Foreign Relations) visit to Serbia.
  • 23 and 24 May 2016; José Manuel García-Margallo (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation) together with Fernando Eguidazu (Secretary of State for the European Union) visit to Serbia.
  • 22 June 2017; Juan López Herrera (Director General for Bilateral Relations with European Union Countries) and José Martín y Pérez de Nanclares (Head of the International Law Division) visit to Serbia.
  • 20 July 2017; Enrique Mora (Director General for Foreign Policy) visit to Serbia.
  • 30 November 2017; Jorge Toledo (Secretary of State for the European Affairs) and Juan López Herrera (Director General for Bilateral Relations with European Union Countries) visit to Serbia.
  • 18-20 July 2017; José Manuel Maza (Attorney General of the State) "Twinning" project closure.

Serbian officials in Spain[4]

  • 18 July 2007; Vuk Jeremić (Minister of Foreign Affairs) visit to Madrid where he meets with Miguel Ángel Moratinos and José Antonio Alonso.
  • 9 and 10 October 2007; Vuk Jeremić (Minister of Foreign Affairs) attends OSCE Conference of Ministers of Foreign Relations on the topic of discrimination of Muslims.
  • 29 and 30 November 2007; Vuk Jeremić (Minister of Foreign Affairs) attends OSCE Conference of Ministers of Foreign Relations and meets Miguel Ángel Moratinos.
  • 14 December 2007; Dušan Spasojević (Minister of Defense) visit to Madrid where he meets with the State Secretary for Defense.
  • December 2007; Snežana Malović (Minister of Justice) visit to Madrid.
  • 15 January 2008; Vuk Jeremić (Minister of Foreign Affairs) attends I Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations and meete with the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • 22 April 2008; Vuk Jeremić (Minister of Foreign Affairs) visit to Madrid where he meets with Miguel Ángel Moratinos.
  • 4 July 2008; Vuk Jeremić (Minister of Foreign Affairs) visit to Madrid.
  • 1 December 2008; Vuk Jeremić (Minister of Foreign Affairs) and Ivica Dačić (Minister of the Interior) visit to Madrid.
  • 9 March 2009; Boris Tadić (President of Serbia) and Vuk Jeremić (Minister of Foreign Affairs) visit to Madrid.
  • 23 February 2010; Vuk Jeremić (Minister of Foreign Affairs) visit to Madrid.
  • 31 January 2011; Ivica Dačić (Vice Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior) signing of bilateral agreement on fight against crime and organized crime.
  • 6 October 2011; Mirko Cvetković (Prime Minister of Serbia) Hispanic-Serbian Business Forum.
  • 10 April 2012; Snežana Malović (Minister of Justice) visit to Madrid.
  • 3 May 2012; Vuk Jeremić (Minister of Foreign Affairs) visit to Madrid.
  • 28 May 2013; Suzana Grubješić (Vice Prime Minister for European Integrations of Serbia) visit to Madrid.
  • 6 June 2017; Katarina Lalić (Vice Prime Minister) attends OSCE Conference in Málaga.
  • 2017; Katarina Lalić (Vice Prime Minister) meets with the State Secretary López Herrera and Spanish director for international legal advice for Kosovo.
  • 8 June 2017; Ivica Dačić (Minister of Foreign Affairs) visit to Madrid.
  • 19-21 July 2017; Jana Ljubičić (Delegate from the Ministry of the Interior) and Vladimir Rebić (Director of the Serbian Police) visit to Spain.
  • 26 and 27 September 2017; Ivica Dačić (Minister of Foreign Affairs) attends opening of the Honorary Consulate of Serbia in Zaragoza.


See also


  1. "Bilateralni odnosi-Španija". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Serbia). Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  2. "Dačić: Španija najčvršće podržava Srbiju u EU". EWB. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  3. Zejneli Loxha, Amra (2 November 2011). "Nepriznavanje pet članica EU koči Kosovo". Radio Free Europe. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  4. "Ficha país Serbia; La Oficina de Información Diplomática" (PDF) (in Spanish). Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation (Spain). March 2018. Retrieved 7 June 2018.
  5. "Španija: EU da podrži formiranje ZSO". ATBL. 14 April 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  6. "Dačić o referendumu u Kataloniji: Srbija podržava celovitost Španije". Blic. 1 October 2017. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
  7. "Argentina to maintain its principled position to adhere to international law, supporting the territorial integrity of Serbia". Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Serbia). 22 November 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  8. "Argentina and Spain agree to re-launch closer political and trade relations". MercoPress. 5 April 2016. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  9. Andreu, Miguel Rodríguez (31 January 2017). "Serbia fuera del radar estratégico de España". esglobal. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  10. Vaquer i Fanés, Jordi (October 2011). "Spain's Position on Kosovo. Kosovo Calling International Conference to Launch Position Papers on Kosovo's Relation with EU and Regional Non-recognising Countries" (PDF). Open Society Foundations. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  11. "Lack of Engagement? Surveying the Spectrum of EU Member State Policies Towards Kosovo" (PDF). Open Society Foundations. December 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  12. Kinzer, Stephen (16 January 1992). "Europe, Backing Germans, Accepts Yugoslav Breakup". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  13. "Spain Calls on Holland to unblock SAA with Serbia". European Report. 14 January 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2018.
  14. "Jorge Toledo reitera en Belgrado el apoyo de España al ingreso de Serbia en la UE". The Diplomat. 2 December 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  15. "Spain Should be More Present in Serbia". CorD Magazine. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  16. "Dačić: Srbija podržava jedinstvenu Španiju". Radio Television of Serbia. 1 October 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  17. "Španija traži da se uključi u dijalog Beograda i Prištine". Tanjug. 6 June 2018. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  18. Magris, C. (2013). Dunav. p. 299. Fraktura. Zagreb.
  19. Fortes, Susana (2012). Čekajući Roberta Capu (in Croatian). Zaprešić (Croatia): Fraktura. p. 52. ISBN 978-953-266-379-2.