We, as parliamentarians need to continuously search for responses and solutions to meet citizens’ needs, and to enhance transparency of our work in order to get closer to citizens
”After full 56 years, Belgrade regained trust and an opportunity to once again host such a big IPU Assembly, one of the largest Assemblies in IPU history. This is best indicated by over 2000 participants from 150 countries, as well as 300 official bilateral meetings held. This proves how important this Assembly is for parliamentary world and diplomacy in general, and that despite numerous challenges, it is still possible to build up a world of dialogue and compromise”, said at the beginning of the interview The Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Maja Gojković.
How comes that Serbia hosted the 141st IPU Assembly, after over 50 years?
— I am really proud about and very satisfied with the fact that this was a successful and substantial Assembly, and with fact that after 20 years this Assembly was hosted by one of the European countries that proved to be open for parliamentarians from all over the world, without any limitations. Moreover, the session in Belgrade proved an increasing role of parliaments and parliamentary diplomacy in these complex times, as well as the importance of parliaments in building up trust and cooperation, at both regional level and wider. Numerous discussions between parliamentarians showed that these themes are topical and important for practically every region in the world. This is why it is up to MPs to promote observance of international law and United Nations’ Charter, conventions and other international legal instruments that guarantee international law and order. The Belgrade Declaration, adopted at the end of the Assembly, is an outcome of the general debate in which over 150 Speakers and Deputy Speakers of Parliaments participated, as well as Heads of delegations, MPs and representatives of international organisations. I really believe that Serbia justified the trust and support it received from the IPU management and the whole parliamentary world to host this Assembly.
How important is this event for our country and Parliament?
— Hosting such a big convention is a great recognition accorded to Serbia. The fact that we gathered 77 Speakers and Presidents of Parliaments, 66 Deputy Speakers and over 2000 participants indicates that this was one of the largest meetings in recent history of Serbia. This is a great recognition given to our country, a confirmation of our role in the international arena, and I believe that our hospitality made all the parliamentarians feel welcome in Belgrade and Serbia. Furthermore, for more than seven days, our country was the hub of the whole parliamentarian world, and besides for the Belgrade Declaration which calls for observance of international law, the Belgrade Assembly will also be remembered for the Resolution on Climate Change discussed as an emergency item, and the Resolution on Achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030: The role of parliaments in ensuring the right to health”. These are all very important results of the Assembly.
Which are the countries with whose parliaments you have the best cooperation?
— During the Assembly, I had numerous bilateral meetings with Speakers and Presidents of Parliaments, over 60 official meetings. We really used all the opportunities provided by the parliamentary cooperation and such a multilateral conference within the oldest and the biggest international parliamentary organisation for developing and enhancing cooperation, and for establishing and renewing contacts where they have not existed for a long time. I had meetings with many countries, with Speakers of Parliaments from our region, with partners from within the EU, and in this context, particularly important was the meeting I had with the ‘Slavkov Group’ consisting of Speakers of Austrian, Slovak and Czech Parliaments. Moreover, it is in our interest to develop cooperation and relations with our traditional friends such as countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America, and many of them were represented at the highest parliamentary level. Many of them remember cooperation within the Non-Aligned Movement and the support they received from us. Based on this tradition, they are also ready today to develop our relations in the field of economy, education, culture, etc. We as a Parliament showed unquestionabe readiness to enhance these relations both through cooperation between our working bodies, parliamentary groups of friendship and our delegations, and already now we have Memorandums of Cooperation signed with many countries.
To what extent may this event be significant for the economy and business environment?
— The IPU Assembly certainly improved the position of Serbia on the global political map and at the same time it opened numerous possibilities for presenting economic and tourist potentials and for overall promotion of our country. In the numerous talks I had, I received confirmation of many countries’ interest in Serbia at all levels. They particularly showed interest in enhancing business ties and cooperation in the field of economy. Moreover, they are familiar with the situation in our country and with the fact that Serbia is making a stable political and economic progress, that we have successfully tackled difficulties and that we have achieved a financial consolidation. They really showed interest in what Serbia had achieved, including the fact that today we attract a great number of investments, that unemployment is reducing and that our country is achieving an appreciable economic growth. All of this makes numerous countries see Serbia as a reliable and desirable partner for cooperation in the field of economy.
Particular focus of the convention was placed on marking the 30th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Could you tell us more about this?
— I am particularly proud of the fact that we marked the 30th Anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child at this Assembly. This is the documents that our county was among the first to ratify and it was printed in both Cyrillic and Latin script at the time. Furthermore, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child is certainly the document ratified by the largest number of countries, which indicates its great significance. I am particularly proud of the fact that as a part of this Anniversary, we promoted a famous musician Goran Bregović into a regional UNICEF Ambassador, because, being familiar with his energy and dedication, I am convinced that he will certainly contribute to a better protection of children’s rights and ensure greater attention to the promotion of the children’s rights and protection of children.
Where do you see the Serbian parliamentarism with regard to other IPU member states?
— We spoke about the challenges faced by Parliaments in 21st century and how important it was to be willing to make critical self-assessment and establish how we could improve our performance in the best interest of citizens we represent. Only in this manner can we build up the future trust of citizens that elect us, at global level. This is why improving democracy and strengthening parliaments is an important task being tackled within the Inter-Parliamentary Union. We, as parliamentarians need to continuously search for responses and solutions to meet citizens’ needs, and to enhance transparency of our work in order to get closer to citizens. The National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia is fully committed to all IPU principles.