Nikolić, Putin meet in Moscow

MOSCOW -- Newly elected president Tomislav Nikolić assured Russia's President Vladmir Putin Saturday that cooperation between the two countries would be “progressive“.

Tomislav Nikolić and Vladimir Putin (Tanjug)
Tomislav Nikolić and Vladimir Putin (Tanjug)

Putin said that the new Serbian president could count on Moscow's support in the implementation of his policy.

The two officials met on the margins of the at the 13th United Russia Congress in Moscow on Saturday.

Nikolić thanked Putin for Russia’s support to Serbia on the international scene, especially when it comes to preservation of Kosovo within Serbia.

“I assure you that the cooperation between Serbia and Russia will be progressive. I assure you that Serbia is Russia’s partner in the Balkans,” he told the Russian president.

“Serbia is on the road toward the EU. It’s a long and uncertain journey. We will organize the country in accordance with the EU rules,” the newly elected Serbian president said and added that he so far had not heard that Serbia had to recognize Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence.

“We cannot do it, even if it means we have to stop the negotiations that very moment,” Nikolić stressed.

He also pointed out that Serbia was military neutral according the resolution passed by the Serbian parliament.

“Serbia will not join NATO,” he said.

Putin noted that the economic cooperation between Russia and Serbia had grown in the previous year.

“But it can be even better,” the Russian leader stated.

The two officials then continued the meeting behind closed doors.

The delegates chose Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as the party leader at the Saturday congress.

Putin stressed after he was elected president that according to the Constitution he was not obligated to resign from the party but that he would do so “in the spirit of what is happening in Russia’s political life”.

Nikolić also resigned from the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and he is no longer its leader.

Considering that he is not visiting Russia as the Serbian president, his meeting with Putin is unofficial.

More than 3,000 participants, including 671 delegates, 1,600 guests, representatives of 30 delegations and more than 1,000 accredited reporters, will take part in the congress.

Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) deputy leader Nenad Popović will also attend the United Russia congress.