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Selakovic: Selfless and principled support of Russia to Serbia

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia Nikola Selakovic met today in Moscow with Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov and on that occasion thanked Russia for its support to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Serbia.

"I took the opportunity to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia and Minister Lavrov personally for their selfless, continuous, principled support to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Serbia, as well as for providing support in resolving the issue of Kosovo and Metohija by peaceful and diplomatic means, for which Belgrade is ready and on the basis of which it has built and strengthened its credibility so far", the Minister said.

The Serbian Foreign Minister pointed out that the high-level meeting with Minister Lavrov as well as other meetings between officials of the Republic of Serbia and the Russian Federation at the high and top levels were a good indicator and testimony of sincere, open and friendly relations between the two countries that fostered a long tradition of such relations.

The Minister pointed out that the meeting with his Russian counterpart was not only an opportunity to exchange opinions and views on important issues but also a meeting that would contribute to the preparation of a potential visit by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin to Serbia this year.

Selakovic emphasized that Serbia did not impose sanctions on the Russian Federation and that it remained on that very clear position.

"Serbia's position does not change. Although we are a country committed to its European path and EU membership, our friendship and centuries-long brotherhood with the Russian people and the Russian Federation do not change. You had the opportunity to see that we talk openly and honestly with each other, trying to see how we can help each other and I will quote our President Aleksandar Vucic who has repeatedly said - that Serbia will not impose sanctions on brotherly and friendly Russia", the Serbian Foreign Minister stressed and added that the issue of relations with Russia was always on the agenda with western partners, but that Serbia had a very clear position that would not change.

The Minister added that Serbia was the only country in that part of Europe that remained firm and consistent in that commitment and that position, despite the pressures that existed.

Selakovic also said that he informed Minister Lavrov that today marked exactly 2,921 days since the Brussels Agreement was concluded, which defined three obligations for Belgrade and one for Pristina, that Belgrade had fulfilled its obligations, while Pristina neither started implementing nor was implementing its only obligation - the formation of the Community of Serb Municipalities.

The Minister also thanked Russia for its support in international forums and organizations, when it comes to cooperation so far to thwart Pristina's attempts to join certain international organizations, and once again expressed deep gratitude for Russia's assistance to Serbia amid the Covid-19 situation, when as early as a year ago, Russian CBRN defence units came to Serbia and helped disinfect our health centers in Serbia.

"After that, we also had the opportunity to experience that help and support through the delivery of Russian Sputnik V vaccines, and now through the beginning of the experimental phase of production of that vaccine at the Torlak Institute in Belgrade. This significantly contributes to the further successful conduct of Serbia and the management of the crisis caused by the pandemic, where Serbia has recorded a significant number of vaccinated persons", the Minister said.

Speaking about economic cooperation and exchange between the two countries, Selakovic pointed out that they were considerably reduced due to the pandemic in the previous year, and emphasized that he talked to Lavrov about encouraging the continuation of that cooperation on a larger scale and returning to the pre-pandemic level.

To that end, the ratification of the agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union is of interest to the Serbian economy, Minister Selakovic said and underlined that all that remained was for Armenia to ratify that agreement, so that it could begin to be implemented.

The Head of Serbian diplomacy also welcomed the initiative for signing the strategic Russian-Serbian program of economic cooperation for the period 2020-2026, convinced that the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg will be held in June, which will be another good opportunity for business representatives and the leaderships of the two countries to discuss these issues.

The energy field certainly deserved full attention when it comes to relations between Russia and Serbia, Selakovic pointed out, adding that successful cooperation was reflected in the construction of the Balkan Stream gas pipeline, which began operating on 1 January this year from Serbia's border with Bulgaria to Serbia's border with Hungary.

"We expect further that Hungary connects to that gas pipeline, and what marked and marks our successful cooperation in the field of energy is the business done by the Oil Industry of Serbia (NIS), as a subsidiary of Gazprom Neft. I would like to mention a very valuable investment of USD 330 million in the construction and completion of a plant for deep oil refining, which also certainly contributes to such a successful business of NIS. Let me also point out the exceptional experience with the Russian Railways, which are working on the section from Stara Pazova to Novi Sad, on the most complicated part of the construction of the high-speed railway - the Chortanovci tunnel and the viaduct, which we can see is going faster than planned", the Minister said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov said that Russia was ready to and would continue to help the preservation of Serbia's territorial integrity, emphasizing that the basis of foreign policy cooperation between the two countries was adherence to the principles of international law and UN principles, including non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states and peaceful resolution of disputes.

He added that they agreed to continue the coordination in international organizations.

Lavrov said that he discussed with his Serbian counterpart all directions of joint cooperation and partnership, bilateral relations, but also regional and international issues.

"Regardless of the limitations due to the Covid-19 epidemic, our strategic cooperation continues to develop dynamically in all areas", Lavrov said, adding that Russia would continue to provide assistance to Serbia in neutralizing illegal attempts of Pristina to join international organizations.

Lavrov pointed out that he confirmed readiness for Russia to continue helping Serbian friends, to defend Belgrade's legitimate right to Kosovo and Metohija.

"We will continue to keep the focus in the UNSC on this issue and full respect for Resolution 1244 which envisages reaching an agreement on the status of Kosovo and Metohija between Belgrade and Pristina, and that agreement should be approved by the Security Council", Lavrov said.

As he emphasized, he was convinced that the balanced line of Belgrade contributed to peace and stability in a very complicated part of the European continent, and pointed out that he discussed with Selakovic the situation in Southeast Europe and support for activities and steps taken by the Serbian leadership in building good and constructive relations with all countries in the region.

He added that they paid attention to the joint fight against Covid-19 and vaccination of the population, stating that Serbia occupied one of the top spots in Europe owing also to the use of the Russian vaccin, and noted that they attached great attention to economic cooperation and increasing trade in goods while adding that cooperation in the implementation of major energy projects was crucial.

Selakovic and Lavrov stated that it was necessary to continue the cooperation in order to preserve people's lives and health, to which launching the production of the Russian vaccine in Belgrade would also contribute.

PHOTO: MFA Serbia / MFA Russia

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