Chairperson of the Council of the Federation addresses a Plenary Session of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia

Valentina Matvienko suggested considering a proposal to the UN and other international organisations that memorials to those who fought against Nazism be recognised as a World War Two Global Memorial and a register of such monuments be compiled.

Russia-Serbia relations are an example of true friendship and brotherhood, mutual respect, trust and all-embracing equal cooperation, Chairperson of the Council of the Federation Valentina Matvienko said. Visiting Serbia as the head of a delegation from the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, she addressed a Plenary Session of the National Assembly. “This is the way our relations have been for hundreds of years and this is the way they are today. The credit for this certainly goes to the Presidents of our countries, to our parliaments and governments, and to the leading political forces of both countries.„

There were many times when our peoples had to defend their freedom and independence, their national identity, the right to choose their development path independently. And always, at all times, we, Russians and Serbs, supported each other, Valentina Matvienko stressed.

She reminded her audience that this year was special for Russia as the centennial of Russian revolutions. “We know very well that Russia, Serbia and the world at large treat the events of those years differently. Russian citizens will always gratefully remember Serbs giving shelter to nearly 70,000 of our compatriots when they were forced to leave their homeland. The Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia led by the Metropolitan of Kiev Anthony came to stay in the city of Sremski Karlovci at the invitation of Serbian Patriarch Dimitrije.„

Hundreds of generals, admirals and officers of the Russian army are buried in the “Russian Necropolis„, a unique memorial in Belgrade restored on the initiative of Senators Konstantin Kosachev, Valery Ryazansky and Anatoly Lisitsyn.

“Seventy-three years ago, we defeated the Nazi invaders and liberated Belgrade together. We have consistently supported the people of Serbia on the Kosovo issue largely provoked by foreign aggression and the NATO countries’ brazen interference in the affairs of the-then Yugoslavia. As I speak, I wish to assure you that Serbia may count on the support of Russia and our people henceforth, too.„

Today, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Serbia have relations of strategic partnership spanning all areas of cooperation, Valentina Matvienko stressed.

“Political dialogue is developing actively. Summits and high-level meetings are held regularly. The two countries’ governments collaborate closely. Mutually advantageous trade and economic cooperation exhibits positive dynamics. At year-end 2016, our trade turnover had increased by 1.3%, at the end of the first six months of 2017, by 16%. Investment cooperation is also becoming stronger, primarily in energy and transport.„

The Chairperson of the Council of the Federation reminded her audience that, since 2000, a Russia-Serbia bilateral free trade agreement had been in effect. This agreement is meting the expectations pinned on it and creating favourable conditions for further economic cooperation.

“Life demands that our cooperation formats and mechanisms be updated. Currently, Serbia and the Eurasian Economic Commission are engaged in talks on aligning the trade regime as part of the Great Eurasian initiative proposed by Russia’s President. Successful conclusion of the talks will allow Serbia to transition to a qualitatively new level of cooperation with the EAEU and will provide expanded markets for Serbian goods.„

There is great potential in inter-regional cooperation, the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation noted. “Russian and Serbian regions have close economic and humanitarian bilateral ties. The Council of the Federation has accumulated good experience of holding inter-regional forums with our foreign partners under the auspices of the parliaments. I suggest that you, dear Colleagues, support the idea of holding Russia–Serbia inter-regional forums, thereby allowing the mutually advantageous cooperation between Russian and Serbian regions to be taken to a new level. We could hold annual regional forums under the auspices of our countries’ parliaments.„

The linguistic, spiritual, cultural affinity between the Russian and Serbian peoples is our common historical legacy. Without any doubt, the unity that has formed over centuries should be cherished and strengthened, Valentina Matvienko stressed. “Today, protecting our common memory is becoming an ever more pressing task. Memorials to the victims and heroes of World War II are being destroyed more often in today’s Europe. In Ukraine and in Poland, destroying memorials to the liberators has essentially become part of government policy. I think we could be making the case for having the victory of Nazism in World War II recognised as a global legacy and consequently having the memorials and monuments to those who fought Nazism in all the countries recognized as the World War II Global Memorial. Creating an international register of monuments to those who fought Nazism could help in implementing this idea.„ Valentina Matvienko proposed submitting such a proposal to the UN, UNESCO and other international organizations. “This will allow us to draw the global community’s attention to the actions of those countries who wish to remove or rewrite the crucial pages of the history of the 21st century written in the blood of our ancestors.„

Out of respect for our past, we need to take steps to preserve our unity in the future, said the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation.

“I think that we, parliamentarians, need to pay more attention to developing our humanitarian ties, in particular, to expanding student exchanges, creating conditions for studying the Russian language, developing academic and cultural ties. Russian parliamentarians are ready to work on bolstering humanitarian ties. Let us exchange ideas and together outline prospective mechanisms and formats for expanding bilateral cooperation in the area.„

Against the background of growing tension in international relations, parliamentarians are called upon to play an important role in advancing a constructive and primarily non-confrontational agenda for the international community. The 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly held in October 2017 in St. Petersburg bears convincing testimony to that, Valentina Matvienko noted. She thanked Maja Gojković, President of National Assembly, and all members of the Serbian delegation for actively participating in the Assembly’s events.

“The last IPU Assembly clearly demonstrated that our big parliamentary family in the main shares common approaches to building international cooperation. These include the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of sovereign states, resisting aggressive exports of alien values, and the unacceptability of imposing the certain model of democracy as allegedly a universal one, because every state should create its state system independently relying on the general democratic principles, yet taking into account historical specifics and today’s reality.„

Facing Serbia today with the “artificial„ choice between the West and Russia is impermissible, the Chairperson of the Council of the Federation emphasized. “Russia has always advocated the right of sovereign states to cooperate with any partners. Today, Serbia remains one of the few countries in Europe that advocate the same position. I wish to emphasize specifically that we value highly the stance taken by Serbia, which, despite pressure from third countries, speaks firmly against the illegal anti-Russian sanctions.„

Valentina Matvienko availed herself of the opportunity to congratulate her colleagues with Serbia’s national team getting into the FIFA 2018 finals to be held in Russia next summer. “I think that tickets to the important matches of the upcoming Championship could be a good prize for winners of Russian language competitions in Serbia. I am sure there are many true football fans and football players among Serbia’s members of parliament, too.„

The Chairperson of the Council of the Federation invited the team of Serbian parliamentarians to take part in the traditional Hero City Cup football tournament held annually under the auspices of the Council of the Federation before 9 May, Victory Day.

Valentina Matvienko also invited Serbian MPs headed by Maja Gojković to attend the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum in St. Petersburg.