Giuliani, who is a top contender to be nominated by President-elect Donald Trump as secretary of state, has faced scrutiny in recent days for his foreign consulting work and legal representation of foreign governments. Those connections have raised conflict-of-interest concerns that could complicate his ability to serve as the nation's top diplomat.
The former mayor appeared on 'Evening With Ivan Ivanovic,'
a late night Serbian talk show, in April 2012, during a visit to the European nation to consult with Serbian politician Aleksandar Vucic, who at the time was running for mayor of Belgrade. Vucic, now the prime minister of Serbia, is a former hardline nationalist who was once aligned with autocrat and convicted war criminal Slobodan Milošević. As minister of information in the late 1990s, Vucic instituted
fines for journalists who criticized the government and banned some media
. Vucic later moderated and expressed regret for his past actions.
During his trip, Giuliani also met
with Tomislav Nikoli, who was running for president of the country that year. Both Vucic and Nikoli are members of the Serbian Progressive Party.
"We're here to give advice to Mr. Vucic, who is running for mayor, about economic development and about how to organize a program to redevelop Belgrade, make it into a great world city," said Giuliani, adding he wanted to help the city lower unemployment and debt. "Those are things I'm an expert on, it's what I did in New York City, and I've advised other cities throughout the world about how to straighten up those problems."
"We've worked in Mexico City, we've worked in Puerto Rico, we've worked in Colombia. We've worked in some American cities, and we've done a good deal of security work in the Middle East," he said.
Giuliani added that his company was being paid for the consulting.
"We're not involved in the election, we're not making an endorsement in the election. I don't know enough about the election to do that. We're just here to advise him, give our advice. My company gets paid for it, I don't get paid for it. That's what my company does, gets paid for giving advice, but that's being done by a private company not by the campaign."
A spokesperson for Giuliani did not return an email and a phone call from CNN.
The former mayor defended his foreign business ties in an interview with The New York Times
"I have friends all over the world. This is not a new thing for me. When you become the mayor, you become interested in foreign policy. When I left, my major work was legal and security around the world," he said.
Giuliani's visit caused controversy at the time. The US embassy in the country issued a statement
declaring that the former mayor's visit wasn't an endorsement of a candidate by the US government.
Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton privately criticized Giuliani at the time.
"This is outrageous," Clinton wrote
in an email when she was forwarded an Associated Press article on Giuliani's visit by her aide Cheryl Mills.
Vucic lost the mayoral race, Nikolic won the presidency that year.