Russian newspapers analyze Lavrov visit

MOSCOW -- Serbian leaders assured Russian FM Sergei Lavrov during his visit earlier in the week that Belgrade "does not have to choose between the EU and Russia."

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

This is according to the Moscow-based newspaper Kommersant.

Noting that Lavrov visited "one of a few European countries that have kept good relations with Moscow after the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis," Kommersant added that the Russian minister received assurances that the realization of the South Stream pipeline "corresponds with the national interests of Serbia."

The paper adds that Lavrov's visit to Belgrade sparked huge media interest. The minister made his first statements for the press as soon his plane touched down in Belgrade, said the article, and when he, a while later, laid wreaths at a monument to Soviet liberators of Belgrade, dozens of Belgraders welcomed him, waving Russian flags.

Kommersant writes that "activists of the local patriotic organization Zavetnici" presented Lavrov with a T-shirt reading, "Serbia and Russia - brothers forever."

"Russia is our second homeland, and Serbia should join Eurasian integrations," an activist was quoted as saying.

"The Serbian authorities, however, have a more pragmatic position," writes the daily, and adds: "Belgrade, which a few years ago received candidate status for EU membership, does not reject the course of European integrations. Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić provided answers to a question that everyone was interested in - the position of Serbia on South Stream."

Kommersant indicates that Dačić said the pipeline was "in Serbia's national interests, and that Lavrov supported this view."

"Russian investments in Serbia are not limited to South Stream - they amount to about a billion dollars, and Belgrade is counting on their significant increase. But many foreign investors, including Russian, face serious problems in Serbia, all the way to obvious discrimination," the newspaper said.

It adds that the Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić "promised that the practice of gross violations of the rights of foreign shareholders will be discontinued."

"Now, when Vučić has virtually all the power in Serbia, he has every chance to realize his promise," observed the daily.

Other newspapers, including Rossiyskaya Gazeta and Nezavisimaya Gazeta, noted in their reports that Serbia "had not rejected South Stream."