Russian and Serbian presidents meet in Moscow

MOSCOW -- Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić conferred with his host, Russian President Vladimir Putin, in Moscow on Wednesday.

(Photo courtesy of the Rusian Presidential Press and Information Office)
(Photo courtesy of the Rusian Presidential Press and Information Office)

Relations between Serbia and Russia are developing well - "but there are problems on the Serbian side that need to be solved," Nikolić stated.

Putin responded by saying that "problems should not be dramatized," and that they would be resolved in the manner in which this is done among friends.

"The meeting between the two presidents did not specify which problems in economic relations between Serbia and Russia they were referring to," said reports from Moscow, quoting Nikolić as further saying that they "sometimes arose because of a lack of resourcefulness, and sometimes because the government members are not sufficiently careful when making their decisions."

Nikolić noted that one problem was the debt of Srbijagas, Serbia's natural gas public enterprise.

This company is taking part in the implementation of the energy agreement between the two countries, that includes the sale of Serbia's oil company NIS to Gazprom, and joint participation in the building of the South Stream pipeline and an underground storage facility in Banatski Dvor.

Putin noted that NIS had paid EUR 690 million to the Serbian state budget from January until September of this year.

Nikolić noted that this amounted to ten percent of the budget, and added that "this silences the big opponents of that investment."

He added that the government in the past adopted decisions "that must be changed" - because they do not correspond with that had been agreed with the Russian partners.

According to earlier announcements, the agenda of the talks covered an entire series of issues, from bilateral relations and the South Stream pipeline to Russian investments and other issues.

This was the fifth meeting between Nikolić and Putin since Nikolić was elected president in May 2012.

Relations between the two countries marked by traditionally friendly ties and the Declaration on Strategic Partnership was signed in May as a confirmation of the strong mutual support, Tanjug reported.

While in Moscow, Nikolić also attend a business conference, entitled "Serbia's Investment Potential," hosted by the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday.

Besides Nikolić, Minister of Natural Resources, Mining and Spatial Planning Milan Bačević, President of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce Željko Sertić and head of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sergei Katyrin addressed the meeting.

Deputy head of Gazpromneft Evgeny Kudinov and CEO of Sberbank Srbija Valery Ovsyannikov also spoke at the event.