Maja Gojkovic, president of the National Assembly of Serbia, receives an interview with Xinhua in Belgrade, Serbia, on July 11, 2017. Upcoming visit of top Chinese legislator Zhang Dejiang later this month is an opportunity to talk about creating new ways for exchanges between parliaments of Serbia and China in order to support increasing cooperation of the two countries, Maja Gojkovic told Xinhua in a recent interview. (Xinhua/Nemanja Cabric)
By Nemanja Cabric, Wang Huijuan
BELGRADE, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Upcoming visit of top Chinese legislator Zhang Dejiang later this month is an opportunity to talk about creating new ways for exchanges between parliaments of Serbia and China in order to support increasing cooperation of the two countries, Maja Gojkovic, President of the National Assembly of Serbia, told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Gojkovic, who became the speaker in 2014, said that she already lists the visit of Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of National People's Congress (NPC) of China, as one of the key moments in her mandate.
MORE PARLIAMENTARY COOPERATON
Speaking about the cooperation of the two parliaments, Gojkovic reminded that Serbia and China established diplomatic relations in 1955 and since then the two nations have kept on forging it into relations of deepest friendship.
She pointed out that "in the past several years all highest officials of our country are contributing to this" and that the two countries have established comprehensive strategic partnership last year.
"Our relations are at the highest strategic level. We call this 'a friendship of steel', and it is important that representatives of our two countries work as actively and frequently as possible to strengthen these relations," she said.
Gojkovic thanked China and its leadership for supporting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia and for respecting international laws, adding that Serbia respects the one-China policy and the vision of the Chinese leadership, and that one of Serbia's priorities is to continue developing the successful economic cooperation between the two countries.
Gojkovic recalled that last time in 2010 then chairman of the Standing Committee of NPC visited Serbia, while president of the National Assembly of Serbia visited China in 2011.
She said that during her meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping last year in Serbia, they talked about further development of bilateral ties on the parliamentary level, and that Xi told her "this was a very important segment of cooperation between the two countries and that we have to fill it with more contents, and intensify high level parliamentary exchange".
PARLIAMENTS CONTRIBUTE TO PARTNERSHIP
Speaking about the ways in which the two legislative bodies can contribute to concrete achievements, Gojkovic mentioned that the Serbian parliament has ratified all international agreements signed between leaders of China and Serbia, and that there are great forms and potential for future cooperation at the parliamentary level, which can also benefit the economic and cultural cooperation of the two countries.
"We are convinced that the decisions and international agreements ratified by Serbia, such as the visa liberalization, and our wish to have a direct flight between Belgrade and Beijing or some other major Chinese city will boost arrival of a greater number of Chinese investors, and that in future we will have a large number of direct investments from China," she said.
She further mentioned multilateral cooperation which involves support of Serbian delegations to China at parliamentary assemblies such as the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) as well as several international forums.
Gojkovic, who is also the president of the parliamentary committee for culture and media, said that the cooperation in those areas is also important, and that it is a way of public diplomacy which is convenient for the two countries and their people to get to know each other.
"Agreements were signed and ratified concerning the establishment of cultural centers of the two countries in Belgrade and in Beijing, and those are all new ways of cooperation in culture that will advance our bilateral cooperation," Gojkovic stressed.
She further said that the parliamentary friendship group with China is currently one of the biggest groups with 89 MPs from all political parties headed by Zarko Obradovic, vice-president of the Socialist Party of Serbia, and chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the parliament, to which the friendship group with China is attached.
"The current members of the parliamentary friendship group with China visited China several times together with the Foreign Affairs Committee, and they had opportunities to make personal contacts with their Chinese counterparts and talk about topics of utmost importance for our cooperation.
"They certainly talked about possibilities of parliamentary support to all projects conducted by our two countries bilaterally as well as within the 16+1 cooperation model of China and Central and East European Countries and the Belt and Road initiative, a great strategic project," she said.
"I am satisfied that such a friendship group was established too at the National People's Congress of China," she said.
"It is natural for the National People's Congress of China and the National Assembly of Serbia to give their contributions to advance our historically good bilateral relations," Gojkovic said.
Gojkovic said that during her upcoming meeting with Zhang Dejiang, they will talk about all kinds of concrete cooperation in order to provide support to the comprehensive strategic partnership established in 2016 during President Xi's visit to Serbia.
"We feel that this high-level visit of the chairman of the Standing Committee of NPC will take the cooperation even further and open yet another door for our relations," she said.
"We will talk about how we can improve our relations and how our committees can cooperate through parliamentary friendship groups through new, more concrete forms," Gojkovic revealed.
"I will propose to my counterpart that we establish a joint committee of our two parliaments that would meet once per year to discuss all forms of cooperation between our countries in the economic, as well as the cultural sphere, and we will discuss what parliaments can do to contribute even more and better," she said.
"It is of extreme importance that I will have the opportunity in my mandate, in just a couple of days, to welcome the chairman of the Standing Committee of NPC, Mr Zhang," Gojkovic said.
"This is truly a special signal of our friendship," she concluded.