Dacic: “Developing cooperation in trade and economy, university and cultural cooperation between Serbia and Canada is most important”

First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia Ivica Dacic, on the last day of his visit to Canada, met with his counterpart, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs of Canada Stephane Dion.

The Canadian Minister expressed his satisfaction with the visit paid by Minister Dacic, highlighting the friendly relations between the two countries. He underscored that both sides recognized a potential for their further promotion, through developing cooperation in trade and economy, university and cultural cooperation in the future. The Minister also pointed out that the existing bilateral agreements between the two countries were a good basis for further cooperation.

Given that the two Ministers signed a Declaration of Intent regarding the Air Transport Agreement, both sides expressed hope for its early conclusion, by the end of this year or in the first half of 2017. Furthermore, it was noted that the signing of an Air Transport Agreement would promote the ties between the two countries.

In the meeting, an open exchange of views took place concerning both bilateral and current international issues. The interlocutors discussed Serbia’s 2015 OSCE Chairmanship, Serbia’s role in the region, European integration, the two countries’ relations with NATO and the Russian Federation.

Minister Dion was pleased to accept the invitation to visit Serbia. Mutual willingness was confirmed to improve political dialogue, the Canadian side expressing its understanding for the Republic of Serbia’s arguments regarding the visa restrictions currently imposed by Canadaagainst Serbia.

The Canadian side expressed readiness to extend its full support to our country in the implementation of reform processes on its European path.

Minister Dacic yesterday took part in the inaugural meeting of the Friendship Group for Cooperation with Serbia in the Parliament of Canada, the Chair of which is Senator Larry Campbell, and the Deputy Chair MP Bob Bratina, who is of Serbian descent. The Parliamentary Friendship Group comprises 16 members coming from both houses of Canadian Parliament.

The group’s Chair, Senator Campbell, expressed his satisfaction with the visit paid by the Head of Serbian diplomacy and with his participation in the first inaugural meeting of the Group, on which occasion it was reconvened in the new Parliament, considering that Canadian regular federal parliamentary elections were held on 19 October 2015.

The Parliamentary Friendship Group expressed readiness to actively engage in the promotion of the Republic of Serbia and creation of its positive image in Canadian society. At the same time, readiness was expressed for support in the context of further promotion of parliamentary cooperation between the two countries and identifying mutual interests to contribute to the overall promotion of relations.

Minister Dacic expressed his satisfaction with the visit to Canada, the first in 14 years, in the year when the two countries were marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The Minister pointed to the importance of establishing a regular dialogue that would contribute to a better mutual understanding and, in this context, invited members of the Group to visit Serbia. Establishment of a direct and regular cooperation between the friendship groups of both countries’ parliaments would contribute to deepening the existing cooperation and defining concrete forms of future cooperation.

Minister Dacic underlined that the relations with Canada were highly important to Serbia, adding that a regular political dialogue would contribute to a better understanding with the aim of raising the friendly relations between the two countries to a higher level.

Yesterday, Minister Dacic also met with Mr. Andrew Leslie, Chief Government Whip in the Parliament of Canada. On this occasion, the Minister expressed his gratitude for Mr. Leslie’s personal engagement and speaking out during the crisis in the territory of the former SFRY, contributing to the international community being informed more objectively about the developments in the field, which was of particular importance for Serbia.

The Head of Serbian diplomacy informed Mr. Leslie of the problems the citizens of Serbia were facing when applying for a Canadian visa. He pointed to the Serbian diaspora in Canada being numerous as well as to the rigidness of Canada’s visa policy in this context. The Minister noted in particular the importance of invalidating Article 35 of Canada’s Immigration Act 1999.

Building on the friendly relations between Mr. Andrew Leslie and representatives of the Serbian community living in Canada, Minister Dacic invited him to visit Serbia. The Chief Government Whip was pleased to accept the invitation, stressing that he would personally make a case for overcoming the barriers imposed on Serbia under the Canadian visa regime.