Nikolić invites Russian investors to Serbia

MOSCOW -- Tomislav Nikolić invited on Wednesday potential investors from Russia to come to Serbia, whicih he said was "an increasingly attractive investment destination."

(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)

The Serbian president told them they could expect "a stable economic environment."

"Come to Serbia. Let our friendship and my word guarantee safe business for you in Serbia. We, on our part, will do everything to make you feel good in Serbia and for your investments to be safe and successful," he said opening an investment conference in Moscow.

Nikolić stressed that he wished to encourage investors to do business in Serbia and, by developing their operations there, strengthen the economic, political and cultural cooperation and friendly ties between the two countries.

The economic cooperation with Russia is very developed, but there are realistic possibilities and great potential for better cooperation and more investments, especially in economy, road infrastructure, energy and tourism.

"The goal of the investment conference in Moscow is to present you with more than 80 of the most important investment projects in agriculture, industry, energy, construction and tourism," Nikolić noted.

"By becoming partners or buying companies owned by the government, you get the ability to actively participate moderate and create Serbia's business environment," he pointed out.

Since the start of the 1990s to this day, 60 contracts between Serbia and Russia have been signed, he remarked, adding that the Strategic Partnership Declaration was signed in Sochi in May 2013, and that the two countries also had a free trade agreement.

Serbia's export to Russia reached USD 867 million last year, while import was at USD 2.078 billion, according to the president.

From January to August this yaer, export stood at USD 683 million and import at USD 1.097 billion, Nikolić stated.

"There is intensive credit and financial cooperation. Russia has approved a loan to Serbia to support its budget, worth USD 200 million, a USD 800 million loan to modernize the railway infrastructure and a USD 500 million loan to support the budget," he summed up.

The construction of the gas pipeline South Stream is of particular significance when it comes to economic cooperation, he said, adding that the construction of the Serbian leg of the pipeline was expected to start by the end of 2013.

He pointed to the centuries-long friendship between Serbia and Russia, which were on the same sides at crucial historic moments, and their cultural, historic, language and religious closeness.

The two countries did not have the best understanding from 1990 to 2000, particularly after the political changes in Serbia in 2000, as the Serbian leadership believed that it had to chose between Russia and the EU, the West and the East, the president said.

This made a temporary gap between us and our leaders. But, no one will manage to cause a disagreement between the peoples - Serbs and Russians, Nikolić said.

"We have decided to pursue the policy which I have advocated: both the East and the West, both Russia and the EU. We clearly told this to Moscow and everything changed. Only one sincere and brotherly statement by President Putin was enough, I am quoting: What is good for Serbia is also good for Russia," Nikolić said.

The conference was also addressed by Andrey Khripunov, official of the Russian Chamber of Commerce in Serbia, stressing that there is little room in the Chamber for all interested Russian investors.

The investment conference is organized by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Trade Industrial Chamber of the Russian Federation, and the projects which will be presented at the event amount to nearly EUR 7 billion.

According to the organizers, the majority of the projects are in the area of energy, infrastructure, agriculture, industry and tourism, with the most important ones in the energy sector totaling EUR 4.5 billion.

Around 100 Russian companies have announced their arrival, the PKS said.

The participants will be addressed by Serbian Minister of Natural Resources, Mining and Spatial Planning Milan Bačević, officials of the Chambers Željko Sertić and Sergei Katyrin, Deputy Director General of NIS Gazprom Neft Evgeny Kudinov and President of the Sberbank Executive Committee Valery Ovsyanikov.

It is planned to sign a letter of intent between companies Majevica Holding from Bačka Palanka and TESE from Voronezh and an agreement on joint investment and cooperation between Spektar from Čačak and Metromed from Omsk.

Nikolić confers with Gazprom Neft director

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić conferred with Gazprom Neft Director Alexander Dyukov in Moscow on Wednesday.

The meeting was organised on the margins of the investment conference during which Serbia will present almost 80 projects to potential Russian investors, to the total value of EUR 7 billion.

This is the first time that Serbia is presenting its potentials abroad in this way. Gazprom Neft is the majority owner of the Petroleum Industry of Serbia (NIS).