Mr Speaker, I rise to contribute to the Statement that has been delivered very competently and refreshingly by the Hon Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Mr Speaker, today is an auspicious day in the history of the great nation, Serbia. They have gone through a lot of their own contextual historical changes since the days of Yugoslavia and the struggle of member-state within the Union to seek their own self-determination, which led to the breakup of the Yugoslavian Union.
However, it must be said that through all these years, Serbia has remained strong and they have indicated that they intend for Ghana to get back to its glorious days of stronger cooperation and establish a more formidable bond like the one that used to exist in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Mr Speaker, indeed, when the idea of the Non-Aligned Movement was mooted, it was the two leaders of these two countries, President Tito of Yugoslavia at the time and President Kwame Nkrumah who agreed that the Non-Aligned Movement should be formed. President Nkrumah was in Belgrade, Serbia, when the Non- Aligned Movement was inaugurated and had its first meeting.
Mr Speaker, we also recall how it was virtually like a holiday, when news got to Serbia that President Nkrumah had passed on. That is how President Nkrumah is fondly remembered in Serbia.
Mr Speaker, I must point out that you have brought to bear, your own parliamentary diplomatic skills, which certainly, as a distinguished Am- bassador and a Diplomat, would bring the two Parliaments of Serbia and Ghana together. It is highly commendable. Perhaps many people
do not know that due to your ingenuity and diplomatic dexterity, you have been able to secure scholarships for our young students in this country. As I speak, the first batch of students in Engineering, Pharmacy and Medicine are in school in Serbia. We have been to Serbia and the accounts from the students are very positive - they really enjoy their stay in Serbia.
Another good news is that, Mr Speaker has also secured a second stream of scholarships. It appears that the two relations between the two Parliaments is one that would concrete results. It is not just diplomacy at the abstract level, but Mr Speaker has been able to ensure that it translates into really concrete benefits for our constituents and our people and that should be highlighted and commended.
Mr Speaker, I would also want to commend you for efforts that have been made to initiate a Parliamentary Friendship Association, which is headed by my good Friend, Hon Okoe Boye -- another dynamic young man who does very well. Yesterday, I met with him and we had a very good discussion about the progress. I want to encourage the Protocol Department of the Parliamentary Service to support Dr Okoe Boye because he has a few challenges to move the Association
forward. It would be good that this particular diplomatic relations, which has been renewed by no less a person than Mr Speaker himself, must be supported by all of us.
Mr Speaker, I also want to commend the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, for the steps they have taken to begin with the processes of reopening our Embassy in Belgrade. We had an Embassy in Belgrade until 2012, when Kosovo was recognised because of developments at the time. Unfortunately, it was not taken too well, so our Embassy was relocated from Belgrade to Istanbul in Turkey. It is time to reopen the Embassy, now that a positive decision has been taken - the Kosovo recognition has been withdrawn, so there is really no barrier any longer for us not to have an Embassy there.
Mr Speaker, as I appeal for steps to be expedited for our Embassy to be reopened in Belgrade, I would want to also use the opportunity to call on our counterparts in Serbia to also open a Mission in Accra. The last time we had to secure visas, we had to go all the way to Abuja in Nigeria. It is time that this close bond that we have forged we establish Missions in both countries, as a symbol of the new friendship that exists between the two countries.
Mr Speaker, I must also touch on the business to business aspect. Serbia does very well when it comes to ICT and security projects and they are in many parts of Africa - they are really friends of Africa. Countries like Egypt, South Africa and Nigeria have found them very good business partners, so there is no reason we cannot also open our doors.
Mr Speaker, in this year of return, as we seek to attract a lot of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), I wish to call on many more Serbian businesses to look to Ghana as a favourable business destination. I know that there are a number of businesses they could work on and I hope they would be successful. We know that Serbian companies played a role in the construction of the Accra International Conference Center, the Press Centre and the Takoradi Ports, so they have a reputation in Ghana and if we support them, there is more that both countries could achieve. It would be a win win situation for all of us.
Mr Speaker, we congratulate Serbia on their national day and we wish them a very happy day celebrations. I am sure that if there were a Mission in Ghana, there would have been an event this evening and we would have attended to show our solidarity physically.
Mr Speaker, permit me, since we are in a happy celebratory mood, celebrating the national day of Serbia, to also wish former President John Dramani Mahama, the incoming President for 7th January, 2021, a happy birthday since it coincides with the national day of Serbia. It is quite fortuitous.
Mr Speaker, thank you very much and I appreciate your kindness.