The members of the Parliamentary Friendship Group with Japan met today in the National Assembly with the Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Serbia, Akira Imamura, to discuss the continuation of bilateral cooperation and further development of interparliamentary relations.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker and Head of the PFG with Japan Snezana Paunovic stressed how extremely important cooperation with Japan is for Serbia, noting that the previous year marked the 140th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. In every National Assembly legislature, this Parliamentary Friendship Group records an increasing number of members, which is indicative of the MPs’ interest in getting to know their Japanese colleagues more closely, in order to discuss topics of mutual interest, said Paunovic.
Ambassador Akira Imamura agreed that the two countries have cultivated friendly relations for many years and added that the peoples of Japan and Serbia have supported each other in difficult times, such as in the aftermath of 2011’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the 2014’s floods in Serbia. He added that Japan is the seventh strongest investor in Serbia.
The officials agreed that the fact that Serbia and Japan do not share the same views as regards the recognition of the so-called state of Kosovo, does not mean that they cannot enjoy a high level of relations and that both economic and cooperation in the fields of culture and tourism continue to develop. They agreed that parliamentarians can play a big role in this, as the directly elected representatives of the citizens, and that it would be extremely important to exchange visits by parliamentary delegations in the coming period.
Snezana Paunovic went on to point out that it is important that Japan, as well as other countries, get a clear picture of the developments in Kosovo-Metohija, bearing in mind that for 24 years the Serbs and non-Albanian population have suffered persecution, which has become even more intense in the last year. Serbia is, as always, committed to dialogue, even though the other side does not want it, she said.
Ambassador Imamura said that Japan understands the sensitivity of this topic for Serbia and that current events in the area are being followed with concern, adding that he calls for the de-escalation of tensions and the return to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue with the mediation of the European Union. Japan supports the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities, he emphasised.
The participants of the meeting also discussed the importance of regional cooperation and the "Open Balkans" initiative, launched by the President of the Republic of Serbia, as the country that is a key factor of stability and the backbone of the development of the region.
The officials also agreed that the opportunity to organise "EXPO 2027" is of great importance for the further development of Serbia.
The meeting was also attended by PFG members Radmila Vasic, Ratko Nikolic and Djordje Todorovic.