The Head of the Parliamentary Friendship Group with Saudi Arabia Usame Zukorlic and PFG member Ninoslav Eric, met today with the non-resident Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Osamah Dakhel аl-Ahmedi
At the beginning of the meeting, Zukorlic thanked the Ambassador for coming to the National Assembly House, pointing out that Serbia sees Saudi Arabia as an important and friendly country, with which it wants to improve cooperation at all levels. Saying that diplomatic relations between the two countries were established ten years ago, he stressed that since then contacts have been developing and following an upward trajectory. In his opening address, the PFG Head said he hoped the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would open a diplomatic representation office in Belgrade, just as Serbia had opened an Embassy in Riyadh. He went on to say that the interest among the MPs was growing, as evidenced by the marked increase in the size of the Parliamentary Friendship Group compared to the previous parliamentary legislature, currently boasting 20 members.
The Ambassador thanked his hosts for the reception, taking the opportunity to congratulate the MPs on the upcoming Statehood Day and wishing Serbia success and prosperity. He stressed that the exchange of visits by high-level officials is important for the exchange of contacts and strengthening of relations between the two countries, highlighting the arrival of the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, who also met with the President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic. He added that the common desire to intensify relations between the two countries comes through the exchange of visits, mentioning that Serbian ministers had also visited Saudi Arabia. He said that he was ready to offer support and cooperation to Serbia, starting with the exchange of visits, but through cooperation in various fields as well.
Zukorlic expressed his satisfaction with the support to the Ambassador and took the opportunity to extend an invitation to the members of Majlis al-Shura, in order to establish contacts at the parliamentary level as well. The Head of the Friendship Group pointed out that, in addition to bilateral cooperation, Serbia is also interested in economic and regional cooperation.
He went on to point out that cooperation in the fields of economy, tourism, education, business and information technology could be greater, which, he said, would contribute to the interests of both countries. In that spirit, the MP mentioned that the establishing of a direct flight between Belgrade and Riyadh would contribute to the development of tourism and economy, as well as help connect the culture of the two nations, and the Ambassador agreed that the contact between the two nations is no less important than the cooperation between the countries in the field of economy.
PFG member Ninoslav Eric took the opportunity to invite to the Ambassador to Cuprija, emphasising that Cuprija could be a very interesting place for investors from Saudi Arabia, given the favourable conditions for an accelerated development of the economy and entrepreneurship through the improvement of the business and investment environment which Cuprija offers. He said that Cuprija is known as a city of music, medicine and athletics, with a rich culture and content that can be interesting for tourists. Eric pointed out that the most important issue for the Republic of Serbia is peace and stability and expressed hope that Saudi Arabia would change its position on the issue of Kosovo-Metohija. He emphasised that there are great many countries in the world that do not recognise the independence of Serbia’s southern Autonomous Province and that the President of the country, Aleksandar Vucic, advocates dialogue and respect for international rights.
PFG Head Zukorlic took the opportunity to inform the Ambassador that the 300,000 members of the Islamic religion living in the Republic of Serbia enjoy a higher level of rights than believed in international institutions. He pointed out that his mission in the National Assembly is not at all simple and concerns the reconciliation of the Balkan peoples on just foundations. He added that in the past few years, the Muslim community has been resolving the problems of returning property and waqfs, which has increased the citizens’ trust as well as opened up the road to the achievement of strategic goals, such as upgrading the airport in Sjenica, opening of the highway that would lead from Central Serbia to Sarajevo and the construction of an Islamic centre in Belgrade, which would also be interesting for tourists from Arab countries.
The Ambassador also spoke about Saudi Arabia's programs in the areas of sustainable development, climate change and renewable energy sources, as well as facilitating the departure of members of the Islamic religion for Hajj and Umrah in Mecca and Medina.