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Canada is a country in North America, located to the north of the United States of America. With a surface of 9,976,670 km², it is the second largest country in the world after Russia, while its population accounts for mere 0.5 percent of the global population. The capital of Canada is Ottawa and the biggest city is Toronto. The total population of Canada is estimated at around 36 million.

Today, Canada is a federation consisting of ten provinces and three territories. In terms of the form of government, it is a parliamentarydemocracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as supreme sovereign. The country is bilingual, with English and French as official languages not only on the federal level, but also in the province of New Brunswick. Canada, as a country that has fully embraced gender equality, is ranked at the top of the list of the 20 most developed countries in the world (G20).

The name “Canada” derives from the Iroquoian word kanata, which means settlement.

The Canadian government declared Santa Claus a Canadian citizen. Basically, you can send a letter to the North Pole addressed to Santa Claus in any language (including the Braille alphabet), which will then be answered by Santa’s reliable elves.

Canada has the longest coastline in the world. As a matter of fact, if you set out to walk around the country on foot (without sleeping, eating or resting), it would take about four and a half years to make the journey. In Canada, there are as many as two million lakes.

Hockey and lacrosse are Canadian national sports, while basketball was invented by a Canadian.

Profit Interview – Ambassador Kati Csaba

1. Your Excellency, how do you feel about being in Belgrade? Can you tell us about your impressions of Serbia?

I am honoured and delighted to be serving as the Ambassador of Canada in Belgrade. I had been thinking about Belgrade for a while as a good destination for my family and me, so it was a pleasure to have that wish come true.

The first impressions I made on arriving here have turned out to be quite accurate, now that I have been here for a while. These impressions include that Serbs are warm, friendly and hospitable people; that Belgrade is a dynamic and interesting city, with lots going on; and that Serbia is a beautiful country with so many things to see, including a wide variety of nature, and historic sites like monasteries and fortresses. I have really enjoyed getting to know the whole country better.

2. How long have you held the position of ambassador in Serbia, and what was the course of your career in diplomacy before you came to Serbia?

I arrived in the fall of 2017 and presented my credentials to President Vučić in early December of that year. I have spent most of my career working on Canada’s development and technical assistance programs in various countries, mostly in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. At university, I studied political science, with a focus on the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe, so it was quite logical for me to focus on this region, including four postings in this part of the world – in Ukraine (twice), Russia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, I did want to broaden my horizons, so I have also spent some time working on corporate and African issues. My most recent posting, before moving to Belgrade, was as the director of Canada’s aid program to Ethiopia, working at our embassy in Addis Ababa.

3. What is the nature of the foreign trade cooperation between our countries and which industries in Serbia have the most potential? What does Serbia export to Canada, and what does it import from Canada?

Trade volumes between Canada and Serbia have the potential for growth in various industries. Canada is globally recognized for its excellence in clean technologies, ICT, agriculture technology, and mining equipment. This represents an opportunity, not only to increase Canada's exports to Serbia, but also for potential partnerships with Serbian companies.

Another sector of increasing interest are creative industries. Canada is a world leader in animation and the video gaming industry, and we were recently involved in the organization of the Computer, Graphic and Animation Conference in Belgrade, focusing on the future development of these industries. As a side event, we organized a workshop at our Embassy dedicated to education in the video gaming and animation industry, and Canada’s experience. I hope that Canada and Serbia will recognize the great potential for cooperation in these exciting industries.

4. When it comes to investments, how do investors from Canada regard the Serbian market? How many Canadian companies are operating in Serbia at the moment and which are the most important companies investing in us?

Serbia’s improved ranking in the latest World Bank Doing Business list shows that the government is putting significant efforts into simplifying the business climate for both local and international investors. I would like to use this opportunity to congratulate the government on these successes, and encourage them to continue working with the private sector to create a better business environment for the benefit of all.

Canadian companies are quite interested in Serbia, as a market. At the moment, we have registered around 50 Canadian businesses in Serbia. I am proud to see companies like Molson Coors, Magna, Bombardier, and a number of mining companies here or showing interest in Serbia. Our Trade section works with many SMEs from Canada and local Serbian partners in developing stronger economic ties between our two countries, and we hope to see many more companies flying here for business. Maybe one day, they can do so on a direct flight from Toronto!

5. How would you describe your cooperation with the Serbian Government and business associations for the purpose of entrepreneurship development?

The Canadian Serbian Business Association, CANSEE, in cooperation with the Embassy of Canada and the Richard Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario, began implementing a program known as LEADER four years ago. This program is designed for new graduates and young entrepreneurs interested in upgrading their core entrepreneurial business skills. The program is attended by 40 students each year, and we are pleased to see greater interest from potential candidates, year after year. A number of LEADER graduates have gone on to run successful small businesses. We are grateful for the support we receive from the Chamber of Commerce of Serbia to run the program, and I thank President Marko Cadez and his team for their support.

6. In May 2018, the bilateral Air Transport Agreementwas signed, enabling airlines to establish direct flights between Serbia and Canada. How far along is the realization of this plan?

This agreement was signed last summer by Stephane Dion, Canada’s Ambassador to Germany and our Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to Europe, during his visit to Serbia. The agreement opens the doors for the introduction of direct flights between Toronto and Serbia. Our Trade section is in communication with Air Serbia with regard to a direct flight between Belgrade and Toronto, and we hope to see a positive outcome. This would be beneficial, not only for the business community, but also to the large Serbian diaspora community living in Canada.

7. Today, Serbia is a candidate country – negotiations started in January, 2014.In your opinion, how far along is Serbia on the path towards the EU, and what will be crucial for Serbia to become a member state?

Canada supports the EU integration of the whole Western Balkan region, including Serbia, given its importance to regional security and stability. Canada is not part of the EU, but we hope that the EU perspective for the countries of the Western Balkans will remain open, as we believe that the full-fledged Euro-Atlantic integration of the region is crucial for economic prosperity and preserving security and stability in this part of the world.As the ambassador of Canada, it would not be appropriate for me to speculate on the intentions of the EU or individual member states. Canada negotiated CETA, the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, so we know firsthand how complex these negotiations can be. This landmark agreement, which upholds and promotes the values that Canada shares with the EU, was signed on October 30, 2016, and entered into force on September 21, 2017. We consider the European Commission’s annual overviews of progress made towards EU accession by candidate countries as a fair and thorough review of where further progress can be made and what the areas of concern are. Regardless of the pace and eventual result of the accession negotiation process, issues like the rule of law, inclusive governance, media freedom, judicial independence, and corruption are challenges facing all countries of the Western Balkans.

8. Can you tell us something about the relationship between Serbia and Canada in the fields of science, culture, and education?

We are very proud of the great interest in Canadian cultural events in Serbia. Canadian artists from all fields, ranging from literature, music, theater and film to the visual arts, visit Serbia on a regular basis. In early November, Novi Sad hosted a joint exhibition of contemporary art and performance art by Canadian and Serbian artists, which will also be presented in other cities of Serbia and the region. The Belgrade Dance Festival annually presents the latest achievements and artists in the field of professional dance.

We are extremely pleased that Serbian culture is becoming increasingly present in Canada as well, primarily due the activities of the Serbian diaspora. Traditionally, Toronto and Vancouver are annual hosts of Serbian film festivals and literature evenings presenting Serbian writers coming from the home country or the diaspora.

During the last fifteen years, over 300 Canadian books have been translated into Serbian, written by equally represented both Anglophone and Francophone Canadian writers. There are also great Serbian folklore ensembles in Canada, particularly in Toronto, who, by practicing songs and dances of their homeland, greatly support the preservation of Serbian culture and tradition in multicultural Canada.

I would also like to particularly point out the active Serbian Association for Canadian Studies (SACS), whose members are professors and postgraduate students from universities across Serbia who study Canadian society and literature. A significant number of professors of Serbian descent teach at Canadian universities, many of whom retain their connection with their home universities in Serbia. Canada provides excellent opportunities for studying and scholarships, as well as the possibility for international students to study and work at the same time, including for Serbian students and especially postgraduate students..

9. How would you present your country as a tourist attraction? Which characteristics and sights would you highlight?

Canada is an enormous country with a wide range of attractions, including large urban centres, vibrant multicultural cities, a variety of cuisines using local products, and spectacular wilderness. If you travel to Canada, it is important to prioritize what you want to see, given the sheer geographic size of the country. Niagara Falls (more specifically Horseshoe Falls, on the Canadian side) is a favourite destination, as are the resorts in the Rocky Mountains in the West: Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. They are 3,500 km apart, hence my recommendation to set priorities. Toronto is a vibrant multi-ethnic urban centre with numerous attractions, including the CN Tower. On the west coast, Vancouver is considered one of the most beautiful and livable cities in the world, combining the ocean and the mountains and all the activities that each can offer. The province of Quebec is the oldest part of what is now Canada and is predominantly French-speaking, with a very different experience for visitors: Montreal is a culturally rich city while Quebec City is a historic centre preserving the original settlements in the country, including buildings from the 17th century. If you want to get away from cities, there is an extensive network of national and provincial parks, some of which, such as the largest – Wood Buffalo National Park (45 thousand sq. km), you can visit only on horseback, canoe or on foot since there are almost no roads.The winter in Canada can be challenging to say the least, but if you dress warmly and are ready for adventure you can enjoy many outdoor activities, such as skiing, skating, playing ice hockey, snowshoeing, or even dog sledding. And once spring comes, you can visit maple forests where the sap from the trees is collected and cooked in ‘sugar shacks’ to make maple syrup, probably Canada’s most famous food.

10. What are the things you particularly like in Serbia? How do you spend your free time?

One of the things I enjoy most about living here, and which came as a pleasant surprise, is the rich and diverse cultural life. Every day, there are so many possibilities, including great classical and jazz music, film festivals, opera and ballet, theatre plays, and art exhibits.

Besides participating in as many cultural activities as my schedule allows, Serbia is a great place for eating wonderful food. I really enjoy the variety of dishes that you can find around the country. And who doesn’t like spending time in kafanas, eating good food and listening to tamburaši!

I have also discovered that Serbia has a thriving wine culture, with some older wineries, but also many newer ones. My husband and I have had the chance to visit a few of them in various parts of Serbia, and there are some excellent wines to be found here.

Other than that, I like to spend time with my family, and exploring the city and the country. I don’t have much time for cooking, but when I do, I love going to Kalenić market and picking up fresh local products. So as you can see, I am enjoying my life here!