11 July 2023 The participants of the meeting

11 July 2023 The participants of the meeting

Tuesday, 11 July 2023

Representatives of Ruling Coalition Parliamentary Groups Meet with UK Parliament Delegation

Representatives of the ruling coalition parliamentary groups Sandra Bozic, Dejan Radenkovic, Zivota Starcevic, Milija Miletic, Rozalia Okresz, Branimir Jovanovic and Haji Milorad Stosic met with the delegation of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, headed by the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Serbia Jackie Doyle-Price, currently in a five-day visit to the Republic of Serbia.

At the very beginning of the meeting, Sandra Bozic welcomed the delegation, expressing satisfaction with the meeting, stressing the importance of the MPs having the opportunity to speak openly with their colleagues from the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and also adding that there is room to intensify cooperation through joint parliamentary activities. She said that representatives of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia enjoy excellent cooperation with UK parliamentarians in international forums and that she has had the opportunity to see this from the position of the Head of the National Assembly delegation to the OSCE PA.

Dejan Radenkovic agreed with the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Sandra Bozic and used the opportunity to speak about the situation in Kosovo-Metohija. He emphasised that over the past year the atmosphere in the area has been tense and sent a message that British members of KFOR and British forces protect the Serbian population from Albanian extremists and their violence fuelling moves. He mentioned and condemned the behaviour of the British MP Alicia Kearns who accused the Serbian Orthodox Church on this territory, stressing that the area of Kosovo-Metohija has the largest number of Christian Orthodox places of worship in the world.

In his address, Zivota Starcevic spoke of the economic cooperation between Serbia and the United Kingdom, pointing to the 623 million EUR annual goods exchange and adding that Serbia sees the UK as a major investor, the 13th in terms of direct foreign investments in the Republic of Serbia.

Milija Miletic said that there is always room to strengthen bilateral relations, adding that it bears remembering that the two countries were allies in both world wars and have enjoyed diplomatic relations for 185 years.

Rozalia Okresz informed the delegation about the position of national minorities in Serbia, noting that Serbia takes care to preserve the identity, language and culture of national minorities. She added that Serbia has a good legislative framework on the issue and that direct elections for members of 23 national councils of national minorities were held in 2022.

Branimir Jovanovic said that the two countries can develop even deeper political and economic relations and that a stable business environment for foreign investments is of great importance to Serbia. He added that the two countries have different views when it comes to Kosovo-Metohija, but Serbia and the United Kingdom should first focus on topics of common interest and then deal with issues where the opinions and views of the two countries differ.

Haji Milorad Stosic underlined that Serbia deserves and demands respect for its sovereignty and integrity and that the most important thing for Serbia and its political activities is peace and stability.

The Head of the UK Parliamentary delegation Jackie Doyle-Price stressed that the present MPs are interested and committed to strengthening ties with Serbia. She used the opportunity to underline that the statements of British MP Alicia Kearns, who accused the Serbian Orthodox Church, are not the official position of the Government and Parliament of the United Kingdom and represent the personal view of one individual. The delegation was also interested in Russia's influence in Serbia and Serbia's position in the NATO PA.

The Serbian side stated that Serbia conducts its policy in accordance with its national interests, respecting international agreements, and, adhering to such positions, it expects the same treatment from other countries. They emphasised that Serbia is an active participant in the negotiations concerning Kosovo-Metohija and reminded the guests that, with EU mediation, it had fulfilled all the expectations requested from it, while the provisional institutions in Pristina have not formed the Community of Serb Municipalities for a whole decade. The MPs stressed that Serbia will continue to be militarily neutral, that it will continue to be part of the Partnership for Peace Programme and remain dedicated to peace and stability in the region.

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