Kenyan and Serbian Speakers sign MOU setting a hallmark for their new Parliamentary Relationship
Kenya and the Republic of Serbia have today marked a new chapter in the history of their Parliamentary Diplomacy, by signing a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at establishing bilateral cooperation between their Legislatures.
In a meeting this morning between the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Justin Muturi and the visiting Speaker of the National Assembly of Serbia, H.E. Ms. Maja Gojkovic, the two leaders agreed to the establishment and development of cooperation at the highest Parliamentary level between Parliamentary Committees and friendship groups. They also agreed to explore cooperation in capacity development for their respective Members and staff. This enhanced relations are as a result of the cordial relations that their states have enjoyed in the last 56 years.
Speaker Muturi on whose invitation Ms. Gojkovic is in the country, was quick to note that Speaker Gojkovic is the first high level government representative from the Republic of Serbia to visit Kenya since the two countries established relations soon after independence. Serbia was among the first countries to establish relations with Nairobi, soon after Kenya attained independence.
Addressing the delegation in respect to political instability affecting some parts of Serbia, following a declaration of self-independence by some territories in the country, Speaker Muturi noted that Kenya has unwavering support towards the question of the Sovereign Territory of the Republic of Serbia, adding that Kenya's Foreign Policy does not support Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Earlier on, Speaker Gojkovic had briefed him on the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, as well as on the unilateral acts of Pristina, all allied to the formation of Kosovo, and these regions’ consequent introduction of a 100 per cent tax on goods from central Serbia.
He reiterated that Kenya is a strong proponent of adherence to international law and hence respects international mechanisms on dispute resolution under the auspices of the United Nations. “As a country, because of our belief in the adherence to UN policies, we cannot recognize regions that have unilaterally declared self-independence," he declared.
He was referring to the self-declaration of Kosovo, a region in Serbia that has declared independence, but which is yet to acquire international recognition by the larger international community. “In regards to the situation in Kosovo, we are aware of the various instruments available at the international level such as Resolution 1244 of the United Nations Security Council. We hope that the discussions taking place in Brussels will bear fruit”, he continued. He added that the ascension of Kosovo to the Membership of the UNESCO should not be construed to be as a result of her universal recognition.
On her part, the Serbian Speaker, Gojković noted that this was a historic visit, especially because it was the first parliamentary visit in the history of the two countries after decades of cordial bilateral relations. Gojković pointed out that the two countries have not only developed historical relations, but that they have also formulated solid friendships. She thanked Kenya for standing shoulder to shoulder with Serbia while making decisions in international fora in regard to the interests of Serbia.
Gojkovic particularly thanked Kenya for her firm stance in regards to non-recognition of the unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo and Metohija and for respecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia.
The two Speakers also signed a memorandum of understanding on the sidelines of their bilateral talks, which seeks to institutionalize the cooperation of the two legislatures. Speaker Gojković noted that the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation had opened up new pages of common history.
"This is a positive prerequisite for strengthening co-operation between our Parliamentary committees, especially those dealing with Foreign Affairs, Defense, Agriculture, Education, Health, Culture, Friendship groups. We also look forward to the exchange of experiences in legislative processes and in matters relating to the oversight role of parliaments over the other arms of government”, She said.
The two Speakers further observed that they share a common goal and thus agreed to encourage their MPs and governments to work towards the improvement of their cooperation in all fields. This is in line with the set objectives by States to achieve and succeed relations built during the period of joint activities in the Non-Aligned Movement.
As a stimulus for the development of cooperation between the two countries, Speaker Gojkovic said that the Parliament of Serbia had already formed a friendship group with Kenya, and invited Speaker Muturi, to do so too. Speaker Gojkovic also extended an invitation to Speaker Muturi for a reciprocal visit and to also attend the 141st Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in October 2019, which Belgrade is hosting.
Present together with the Speaker during the bilateral talks were the Leader of the Majority Party, Aden Duale, his Deputy, Hon. Jimmy Angwenyi, the visiting Speaker’s escort of Honour, Hon. Jessica Mbalu, MPs, Hon. Kanini Kega and Hon. Richard Tong’i. The 10- Member delegation that was later introduced in the National Assembly afternoon sitting, comprises of two MPs and staff from the Parliament of Serbia.
Speaking later on when she called on the Speaker of the Senate, Rt. Hon Kenneth Lusaka at Parliament Buildings Office, H.E. Gojkovic noted that Kenya’s position on Kosovo was testament to the two countries’ deep friendship, diplomatic ties and alliance. She lauded Kenya for not recognizing the independence of Kosovo ever since its unilateral declaration of independence.
On his part, Speaker Lusaka emphasized Kenya’s position on Kosovo stating that the country considers Kosovo’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence a violation of the basic principles of international law. “Kenya advocates for peaceful settlement of disputes within the principles of international law and upholds the principle of sovereignty and territorial integrity of other states while strongly condemning acts of secession,” said the Senate Speaker.
Speaker Lusaka’s remarks on respect for territorial integrity come hot on the heels of diplomatic tensions between Kenya and Somalia over oil and gas blocks in disputed territorial waters.
The Senate Speaker, who is a Member of the Fifth World Conference of Speakers under the auspices of the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU), took the opportunity to seek Serbia’s support at the IPU, on Kenya’s bid to host the Conference in 2020.