14 October 2021 The participants of the gathering
Thursday, 14 October 2021
140th Anniversary of Serbia-US Diplomatic Relations
The National Assembly House hosted a gathering marking the 140th anniversary of Serbia-US diplomatic relations, organised by the Parliamentary Friendship Group with the US.
“We must not forget those glorious days and great sacrifices that the peoples of Serbia and America made on the altar of freedom, which is why I take every opportunity to remind them of it. We also had difficult moments, we will not forget them, nor are we allowed to. But we have the strength to go further and not allow the years of recent history when we disagreed, even clashed, to obscure a whole century of our friendship and alliance.
Serbia and America know each other well today, we have lived through both good and bad times together, learned lessons and decided to go on as firm partners. We work together on everything that is in our mutual interest. And we know very well that none of our state and national goals can be achieved without cooperation with America, nor does the US think that it can achieve any of its interests in this part of Europe without Serbia.
That is what binds us today and the thing we build our relations on, and there is no reason for anyone to be unhappy about it. American companies and their European branches are huge investors in Serbia, they employ 20,000 of our people. We want to have even more of them, but we also want as many of our companies to operate on the US market. There are many areas where we want and where we have to cooperate, and that obliges us to remain partners and think about the future”, said the National Assembly Speaker.
US Ambassador to Serbia H.E. Anthony Godfrey also addressed the gathering, thanking the National Assembly, the Parliamentary Friendship Group with the US and its Head for organising the gathering to mark the 140th anniversary of Serbia-US diplomatic relations. He especially thanked Dragan Sormaz, who has been building a strong partnership of great importance for both countries over many years.
"The frequency and increasing substantiality of our cooperation speak of the strength of our relations. Looking back at 140 years of diplomatic relations, we should consider the results achieved and how much work we still have to do together," said the Ambassador. He stressed that as allies in the two world wars, through the Cold War and as persistent partners in facing common security challenges since the beginning of this century, the relations between the two countries have reflected common values and a common vision of the future.
The Ambassador spoke of the Military Assistance Pact, signed by Marshal Tito and the then American ambassador. "The spirit of this agreement is not tied exclusively to the past, it is still alive today, be it in the form of the aid relating to the fight against the global pandemic or the opening of new trade opportunities and ever-expanding military cooperation. As we reflect on the overall scope of our relations, we cannot and must not forget the last decade of the last century, the undeniably darkest chapter for this region and our bilateral relations. Thinking about that period, we cannot help but think about the role of diplomacy or what some would call the failure of diplomacy.” He mentioned the agreements which, he said, guaranteed peace and stability in the region and ended this dark chapter - the Dayton Peace Accords, UN Security Council Resolutions 1244, Kumanovo Agreement and others, which indicate a realistic view with mutual understanding and difficult decisions made together and which occupy a central spot in the joint work of Serbia and the US. "The chief of our common goals now is Serbia's path to EU membership. The US is the largest donor of bilateral aid to Serbia. Since 2001, we have provided 1.16 billion USD in assistance to address issues ranging from post-war reconstruction to the development of democracy, public administration and the rule of law, to economic development and environmental protection. In 2020, this assistance exceeded 40 million USD, which shows that the US remains the Serbian Armed Forces’ most active partner. In the last 20 years, the US Embassy in Serbia has sent over 2,500 citizens to the US, through professional and educational exchange programs, which helps the establishment of more solid, personal contacts and ties between the citizens”, said Godfrey.
The Head of the Parliamentary Friendship Group with the US Dragan Sormaz spoke about the current crisis in Kosovo-Metohija, stressing that he was convinced the issue could not be resolved without the help of the US, and that he personally was not afraid of it.
"When we, as a nation, decided to that there has to be peace in Bosnia, everything was resolved in Dayton, and now we have the Republic of Srpska. I have no fear of the US taking part in resolving the problems we have with Pristina, although many do," Sormaz emphasised.
He then spoke about the good relations between the two countries between the two world wars as well as the current successful cooperation. He stressed that, from 2000 onwards, American companies have invested over 4 billion EUR into Serbia and employ more than 22,000 people. He also pointed out that, since 2001, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has donated 786 million USD to support Serbia's economic and democratic development.
Dr Zoran Dragisic, member of the PFG with the US, spoke about the two countries’ 140 years of cooperation in the field of security. He pointed out that Serbia and the US had been on the same side in the most difficult moments for the planet, during the two world wars, and that the two countries have been linked by strategic cooperation and friendship throughout history, and to this very day.
9.00 - sitting of the Committee on Finance, State Budget and Control of Public Spending (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, hall 3)
10.00 - the National Assembly Speaker meets with the Russian Ambassador to Serbia (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, hall 1)
12.00 - the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee meets with the German Ambassador to Serbia (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, hall 2)
14.00 - the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee meet with attendees of the autumn school organised by the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy and the German Agency for Civic Education (National Assembly Building, 14 Kralja Milana Street, Blue Salon)