Goodbye & see you soon!

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As her three-year long mandate has come to an end, Ms Jannicke Bain, Deputy Head of Mission looks back at some good times spent in the Balkans and admits that she is going to miss her friends, Šopska salata, Ada, Saturdays on green market and many other things.

“The time has been flying with a lot of work, great people and travels in Serbia andf to Macedonia and Montenegro.” So says Bain when trying to sum up the past three years in Belgrade. No doubt the time had flown fast for Bain given that she came to Belgrade in the midst of the crisis caused by heavy rains and floods, which hit Serbia in May 2014. Norway played an important role in assisting Serbian authorities to manage the crisis. A year later, another crisis evolved - refugee/migrant crisis - where Norway again assisted Serbia tackling it.

“It was a very dynamic period. I expected it to be intense but not this much,” Bain admits adding that she had enjoyed every second of it.

She was happy to observe Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro progressing on their EU integration path. “Although different in many ways, the three Balkan countries share the same values as the EU!” Bain said.

It is no easy to learn and grasp a new culture easily, but Bain has found her way. She would often go to the villages in Vojvodina, meet and talk to people informally to see how they live and listen to their stories.

Belgrade’s rich cultural scene has helped her get to know the culture from the other side. Concerts and performances at Belgrade Jazz Festival, Belgrade Dance Festival and other, as well as different exhibitions have secured an important place in her memory of Belgrade.

However, what make these countries so unique are the people. “There is enormous hospitality everywhere, no matter where you go and that has really made my life here so pleasant and nice.” She will always remember Friday meetings at Casina organised by the Norwegian Friendship Association in Serbia.

In every sense, Belgrade has completely met her expectations. “It’s even nicer to live here than to visit,” she added.

After such great time, the missing period comes in. It remains to be seen what she will miss the most, but for now it is sure that it will be swimming in the Ada lake and in a warm sea like the Adriatic, climbing the Fruska Gora Mountain, and watching Skopje changing its face.

She will definitely miss her talks to people on a green market every Saturday and having fresh and tasty seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Going back to Oslo feels nice of course, but visiting Serbia as a tourist is on her must-do travel list. Therefore, this is not a “Goodbye to JaBa” but see you soon”!