Friendship with French forged in heroism

BELGRADE - The friendship between the Serbs and the French, forged in the heroism of World War I, has gone through various temptations, but attempts to provide different interpretations of facts from the two countries' common past must not be allowed to reopen the gap between them, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic has said.

At a reception commemorating the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, hosted late Thursday by the French ambassador to Serbia, Nikolic thanked France for assistance provided to Serbia during the recent floods and, in particular, French President Francois Hollande for his personal efforts to organize a donor conference for rebuilding Serbia.

French Ambassador Francois-Xavier Deniau said that the conference, under preparation in collaboration with the EU, will be held in July.

"The friendship between the French and the Serbs was forged in heroism, by common wounds and by death," Nikolic said.

The two countries have bridged the gap that existed at the end of the last century, but we must not let the gap be reopened by different interpretations of historical facts from World War I, Nikolic said.

The donor conference to be organised by Hollande is a natural effort of friends for which Serbia will always be grateful, Nikolic said.

Deniau said that the conference provides a good illustration of the fact that the Serbian-French friendship is rooted in history, but that it is also reflected by the common future of an increasingly close alliance within the European family, Deniau said.

The reception was attended by many guests, including the ambassadors of Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Sweden and other countries.

Photo Tanjug/R. Prelic