At the sitting held on 22 October, the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee were addressed by former Canadian Ambassador to Serbia Brian Mulroney who spoke about the 100 years of alliances between Serbs and Canadians.
Brian Mulroney, Canada’s 18th Prime Minister, said that the visit to Serbia is a special honour for him and his wife, as are his familial ties with Serbia and its people.
“Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. I was a member of the Canadian Parliament for 10 years, Prime Minister for nine, and I am well aware of the dedication of parliament members who help their people’s development with their work”, Mulroney told the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Serbs and Canadians share a history and relationship between their people, he said. Canada is home to over 100,000 Serbs who are an important factor in the Canadian society. The Canadian Government he headed in 1988 passed the first law on multiculturalism with the aim to build a multicultural society where people from all over the world would have an equal role and recognition in society. Speaking of the shared history, Mulroney added that the two countries were allies in both world wars, when Serbs and Canadians fought and died for freedom together.
“We respect Serbia for its courage, perseverance and fighting spirit. We know and will never forget the high price the Serbian people paid defending their freedom”, Mulroney said.
To illustrate this respect for Serbian victims, Mulroney said that there is a mountain named after Radomir Putnik in the province of Alberta, Western Canada, bearing a plaque that states it was put up to honour Radomir Putnik and the fallen Serbian soldiers.
Mulroney also spoke about his engagement with the UN during the conflicts in former Yugoslavia and the Canadian forces’ contributions in the peace missions, saying that he believes the Serbian people should be the maker of its own future and that Serbs must have dreams and visions to achieve their goals. He went on to speak about Kosovo-Metohija and the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, saying it was a delicate matter.
“We have to heal old wounds to learn from our mistakes. Confronting the past is the way to heal these wounds and move forward. Serbia now has the opportunity, as do many other countries, to become a member of the EU. From the standpoint of someone who has gone through a similar atmosphere, we know that the EU accession process is much more difficult today. EU membership offers Serbia a prospect for prosperity, progress, and I encourage you to continue on the path with enthusiasm and resolve the difficulties that you have with the other countries in the region. There is no country rich enough or able to fight the new challenges alone. It is important to exchange opinions, to build new and renew old relationships. I hope Canada and Serbia will continue to work together to achieve these goals” Mulroney said.
Previously, Milica “Mila” Pivnicki Mulroney, wife of Brian Mulroney, addressed a joint sitting of the Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region and the Culture and Information Committee. Mila Mulroney hails from Novi Becej and as an esteemed member of the Serbian diaspora was awarded the Knight of St. Sava Order of Diplomatic Pacifism. In cooperation with the Archives of Zrenjanin and Novi Becej and Ambassador Dr Ljiljana Niksic, the Municipality of Novi Becej prepared a book entitled “Country of Mila’s ancestors – the Pivnicki family in the history of Novi Becej”.
The sitting was attended by the members of the PFG with Canada, Canadian Ambassador in Serbia H.E. Kati Csaba, ambassadors of Belgium, Iraq, Qatar, Morocco and Algeria, descendants of Mihajlo Pupin, representatives of the diplomatic corps, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Municipality of Novi Becej.
The sitting was chaired by Committee Chairman Prof. Dr Zarko Obradovic, and attended by the following Committee members and deputy members: Dubravka Filipovski, Ljiljana Malusic, Jovan Palalic, Tijana Davidovac, Dr Milorad Mijatovic and Djordje Vukadinovic.