23 March 2021 Participants of the meeting

23 March 2021 Participants of the meeting

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

PFG with Italy Meets with Representatives of Italian Embassy in Serbia

The Parliamentary Friendship Group with Italy, headed by Jovan Palalic, met today at the National Assembly House, with Italian Ambassador to Serbia H.E. Carlo Lo Cascio and associates, to discuss the different aspects of cooperation between Serbia and Italy.

At the beginning of the meeting, Jovan Palalic underlined the two countries’ friendly relationship evidenced by 96-strong PFG with Italy and the two countries’ solidarity in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.
The PFG Head also said that the two countries enjoy a high degree of understanding and support, clearly shown by Italy’s position concerning Serbia’s accession to the European Union, as well as in terms of parliamentary and governmental cooperation between the two countries. He added that economic cooperation has been growing and strengthening every year and expressed hope that regional cooperation between Italian and Serbian cities and municipalities would grow stronger, opining that the PFG with Italy is the right place to discuss this given the fact that a large number of MPs come from different cities in the Republic of Serbia.

At the beginning of the meeting, Lo Cascio thanked the MPs for the opportunity to present the ongoing broad cooperation between the two countries, pointing out that this meeting is proof of the two countries’ sincere and strong friendship. This friendship is evidenced, he said, in the solidarity shown in the difficult moments of the pandemic crisis, through selfless sharing of help in the form of medical equipment as well as medical teams who worked together to treat those afflicted by the corona virus. He said that the medical team which came from Italy in August last year to help their colleagues in Serbia, had said that Serbia can be proud of the high quality of work of its medical staff and their expertise. He took the opportunity to congratulate Serbia on the ongoing vaccination campaign and thanked the Serbian Government for offering to vaccinate the Italian diplomatic corps, which was generously accepted. The Ambassador also spoke about the digital green certificate, aimed at ensuring free movement of citizens within the European Union, as well as citizens from non-member countries, whose role is purely technical in nature and not discriminatory as speculated.

The Ambassador said that that the governments of the two countries are the pillar of the ever growing strategic partnership supported by a series of bilateral visits, one of which is currently being prepared – a meeting between Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic. Speaking of it, Deputy Chief of Mission Giuseppe Cirillo said that during Nikola Selakovic's visit to Rome, an agreement on understanding and an agreement referring to members of the family household of the diplomatic corps would be signed.

As the second pillar of cooperation, the Ambassador mentioned the economy, which plays a significant role since Italian companies in Serbia employ about 30,000 people. He added that the economic exchange between the two countries has reached the figure of 4 billion euros, and that macroeconomic conditions were maintained despite the situation caused by the pandemic and Serbia, which is an increasingly important market for Italy, had maintained its GDP levels. The Deputy Chief of Mission pointed out that the increasingly competitive market encourages new sectors of development, which in turn clears new ground for cooperation.

The Ambassador also spoke about the re-establishment of direct flights, reduced due to the pandemic, primarily the Belgrade-Rome route. He made sure to underline that Italy had exempted emergency situation passengers for Italy from Serbia from self-isolation procedures.

Carlo Lo Cascio singled out culture as the third pillar of the exceptional relations, and gave the floor to the counsellor Roberto Cincotti, who said that the cooperation in this arena is booming, to speak about the Italian Cultural Institute. He stated that the courses and a large number of cultural events have been transferred on-line, but that this did not reduce the number of Serbian citizens interested in Italian culture. 800 Serbian students study Italian at university and the number of those taking Italian language courses ranges between 30 and 40,000, he said, adding that the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs donates funds for the departments and lecturers and that a large number of translated books by Italian writers can be found in Serbia. He went on to say that this year Italy is celebrating the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, the father of the Italian language, and the Institute would organising a great many events to mark the event.

Two political topics were tackled at the end of the meeting - Republic of Serbia’s negotiation process with the European Union and the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue. The Ambassador said that Italy has always openly supported Serbia's accession to the European Union, and speaking of the dialogue, that Serbia is a factor of stability in the region. The Embassy’s First Secretary Federica Cattoi said that although Serbia had not opened any chapters last year, due to the emergency situation, it should remain focused on the rule of law, especially in the field of justice and the media, as well as reforms to accompany these areas. The Ambassador added that reforms are vital, as implied by the negotiation process, where both sides must make additional efforts.

The MPs, PFG members, thanked Italy for its support on the path to European integration, emphasising that the National Assembly works in the interest of the citizens and wants the region to remain stable. Speaking of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, they stressed that we must not forget that Serbia has fulfilled everything agreed in Brussels, while the other side has done almost nothing to that end.

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tuesday, 16 august
  • 12.00 - press conference of MP Srdjan Milivojevic (National Assembly House, 13 Nikola Pasic Square, Central Hall)

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