PM speaks to Russian media, reiterates "no sanctions"

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić has told Russia's Itar-Tass news agency that Serbia has not, and will not impose sanctions against Russia.

Source: Tanjug, ITAR-TASS

"Serbia is a free country. It is on the European path, but nobody can order Serbia to destroy its relations with the Russian Federation. And Serbia has shown that it is a country that must be respected," Vučić said.

During the interview he gave to the deputy general director of Itar-Tass, Mikhail Gusman, the prime minister spoke in Serbian, but also said "several sentences" in Russian.

"The Serbian and Russian people are very close and we have a lot of projects. We need to do a lot together in the future and I want to say that Serbia - a free and independent country, that Serbia is on the European path, but Serbia has not introduced and will not introduce any sanctions against Russia," Vučić reiterated.

He also stated that in his meeting Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) Patriarch Irinej "the first or second question was, 'what are relations with Russia like now'," and that Irinej said that "the Church does not consider it necessary to impose sanctions on Russia."

"I told him: the Church is not making decisions in Serbia, but thank you for your opinion. And it is very important to know what the Church thinks," Vučić was quoted as saying.

He then described himself as "a man who is trying to rationally manage the government of Serbia, does what is best for Serbia, always and at every moment."

"I do not hide from our Russian partners that we are on the European path," Vučić said, adding at the same time that he never suffered any pressure "from the Russian leadership."

"And I said this, as you know, also in the West, because I don not have two different stories. I say the same to you, and in the West. I says the same in Belgrade. And in the West I say, yes, we are on the European path, but we have introduced, and will not introduce sanctions against Russia," Vučić said.

He noted that a large part of the Serbian people are "incredibly connected" to the Russian people with historical, cultural, religious, and other various ties.

"And everything that has hit hard the Russian and Ukrainian people, what is happening now in southeastern Ukraine, is felt and suffered by the Serbian people, together with all Slav peoples," according to the prime minister.

Speaking about the ties between Russians and Serbians, he said that "a resident of the Serb Republic (in Bosnia) once told him that Serbia will never understand how people in the RS love Serbia."

"And another told me that Russians would never realize how much a part of Serbs love Russia. And these are the traditions of our people. And, although my job is not tradition, but rational work, of course, I cannot pretend that I do not know what tradition and good historical ties mean," he said.

Itar-Tass announced that the full text of the interview would be published in the Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily and shown in the Rossiya 24 TV news channel.

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