Sem Fabrizi, Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Serbia, and his wife Rebecca, UK Deputy Head of Mission, have been in Belgrade for three and a half years. During this time, they had made friends here and got to know our country fairly well, they said in an interview with Kurir, but the coronavirus pandemic had prevented them from traveling more extensively this year.
From Košutnjak to Tara
"I have learnt Serbian and made many friends. As for my everyday life in Belgrade, I like to jog in Košutnjak with my dog Lulu, or ride my bicycle on Mount Kosmaj. I enjoy outdoor sports. On weekends I like to go shopping for seasonal fruit and vegetables at the Kalenić market with Sem. The raspberry season is my favourite! Before the Covid-19 pandemic, I enjoyed seeing friends after work and having cocktails at the Kultura Bar, but that is no longer possible. When we go on vacation, we take every opportunity to travel around Serbia, especially to the mountains in the south. They are beautiful," Rebecca said.
Sem pointed out that in their trips around Serbia they had discovered the Mokra Gora village and the Tara National Park – a "remarkably beautiful area."
"We are happy to promote Serbia to all our friends and relatives as one of the best-kept secrets of Europe! When I think of Serbia, I will always remember the nice walks in nature, the kind people, and the good food and wine," he said.
As they are both in diplomacy, conversations on politics are unavoidable in their home. Rebecca said that their views were essentially the same.
"Of course we often talk about politics and diplomacy at home, as we are interested and involved in this daily, especially in the Serbian politics. Our views are essentially the same and we don't have arguments over politics. We share the same views on important issues, such as environmental protection, equality, and democracy, and we are usually annoyed by the same things. Having said that, we also spend a lot of time talking about other things – for example, how our sons are doing at school and university, what to do over the weekend, what to watch next on Netflix, or who will walk the dog. The same topics that are important to other people as well," she said.
Discussing politics with their sons
Sem revealed that their sons were also interested in political topics.
"Politics and diplomacy are very interesting, and that is why they are in all the newspapers, although not always for the right reasons. This is why we talk about politics a lot and exchange articles and books. Our sons are interested too, and often ask us to explain our view on a topic discussed in the public sphere, such as Brexit or important elections, e.g. the ones in the U.S., or the role of the EU in climate protection. They are still young and haven't yet decided what career paths to take. Of course, diplomacy is an option, and we would support them in it. Still, besides politics and what we do at work, there are many other topics that we talk about at home and that we are interested in," Sem Fabrizi added.
He openly acknowledged that he was sad when the United Kingdom – whose official his wife is – decided to leave the EU.
"I'm still sad. I remember the disappointment in June 2016, after the referendum. Nonetheless, that was a decision of the British people and we in the EU had to respect it. Four and a half years later we reached an agreement and can see how to make further progress. In the four years, colleagues and friends would sometimes tease Rebecca and me, but it was never a personal issue for us. Marriage is not a matter of EU jurisdiction," Sem Fabrizi said.
Beijing is especially dear to them
THEY MET WHILE SERVING IN CHINA
Rebecca Fabrizi revealed that she had met her husband Sem at a party in Beijing in 1999, where both of them worked as diplomats – she for the UK, and he for Italy.
"Because of that and because of the birth of our eldest son, Beijing has a special place in our hearts. Since then we have lived and worked in Geneva, Rome, Brussels, and Canberra. I didn't always work for the UK government – in Canberra I was a university lecturer, and in Brussels I worked for the EU as well," she said.