17 March 2016 Prince Charles addressing the reception at the National Assembly
Friday, 18 March 2016
Prince Charles Addresses Reception at National Assembly
His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, attended a reception at the National Assembly, given in their honour by the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Maja Gojkovic.
Prince Charles began his address, the only one he has given in the course of his visit to the region, with a few words in Serbian: “Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great delight to be here today”.
He noted that the countries in the region had made extraordinary progress and peace and stability have returned after the terrible events of the past.
“I can only assure you that Britain is with you as you build your common future. Peace and stability in this region will mean that all of us, whether in the Balkans, in the United Kingdom, or elsewhere, can enjoy a safer and more prosperous future. Together, we can build this future," said the heir to the British throne.
He said that there could be few places on Earth where one felt the weight of history more than in the Balkans and that no-one should forget or ignore that history, but it was vital not to become prisoners of it and to work on reconciliation. He reminded of the Mostar Bridge – its destruction was an example of pain and suffering, and its resurrection a feat of skill and hope.
“A page has now been turned in the region. After the horrific conflicts of the 1990s, peace and stability have returned. I fully recognise the challenges that face your countries and I can only salute the extraordinary progress that’s been made”, said Prince Charles.
The painful strands of history need to be and are being acknowledged and the way to do it is dialogue said Prince Charles, listing as example the 1998 peace agreement in Ireland that has changed the lives of its people for the better.
“It is my profound hope that the countries of the Western Balkans will be similarly changed by your quest for enduring peace. It requires courage, courage I believe we must all try to summon from the depth of our souls, however great the pain”, said Prince Charles.
Reconciliation requires the commitment of everyone, from the leaders of states and faiths, to the ordinary people, it requires the support from friends near and far, said the Prince adding that Ivo Andric wrote that of everything that man erects and builds in his urge for living, nothings is better and more valuable than bridges.
The Prince said that during his visit to the region it has become obvious to him how closely its history and the history of the United Kingdom are connected.
“This history has often been played out by ordinary men and women”, said the British Prince reminding of Flora Sands, Fitzroy MacLean and the members of the British medical mission in Belgrade during the First World War.
He also spoke of Sir Nikolaj Velimirovic’s 1916 visit to England, where he became the first Orthodox Christian to preach at St. Paul’s cathedral and was given a doctorate by Cambridge University, adding that today people from the Balkans are well known in Britain in so many fields, such as classical guitarist Milos Karadaglic.
“There is also, of course, a certain tennis player who stubbornly refuses to yield the Wimbledon Championship. Novak Djokovic’s virtuosity on the court and his humanity off it are an inspiration to young people the world over” said the Prince of Wales. He said that relations between the countries of the region and the United Kingdom were flourishing on all levels.
The address was followed by the national anthems of the two countries, and the reception at the National Assembly rounded up Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla’s visit to Serbia.
10.00 - National Assembly Deputy Speaker Veroljub Arsic meets with the Head of the Greece-Serbia PFG (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, hall 2)