Russian and Serbian presidents discuss S. Stream

Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation late on Sunday with his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic, it has been announced.

Source: Tanjug, Večernje novosti
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Putin informed him in detail about the South Stream pipeline, that Russia last week announced was scrapped, and about a new pipeline planned to go through Turkey.

The conversation was initiated by the Russian leader, and passed in "a very cordial and friendly atmosphere, lasting more than 40 minutes," said Nikolic's press service.

It added that the Serbian president "explained how the suspention of South Stream would impact the energy stability of Serbia and expressed hope that the decision was not final after all."

"The repercussions of such a decision would be far-reaching and would negatively impact on our entire economy," he stressed.

Nikolic informed Putin "about the amount of gas needed by Serbia and suggested it would be good to introduce a tolling system."

Nikolic "expressed Serbia's commitment to the friendship with Russia and said that friends never punish one another, especially during a time of crisis," said in the statement.

The two presidents also discussed other issues, including the Petrohemija project, while Nikolic asked for gas to be supplied to the chemical industry Serbia at affordable prices.

"We find the support over the formation of the Russian investment fund, whose resources would be devoted to agriculture production and pharmaceutical industry oriented towards the Russian market, very important," the president said.

Putin was quoted as saying that he was "pleased that the exchange of goods significantly increased in the past period," and expressed his willingness to accept the initiative of the president of Serbia to expand the list of products to be exported duty-free to the Russian Federation.

"As far as the automotive industry, there is agreement in principle and that decision will be made soon," said the president of the Russian Federation.

Putin also thanked Nikolic, expressing his deep attachment to him both as a personal friend, and the president of the people for whom the Russian leader said he had "extraordinary fondness," Nikolic's office said.

Prior to the conversation, the Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti reported that Nikolic wanted to hear from Putin whether South Stream was definitely abandoned or if there was still hope that an agreement would be reached during the December 9 meeting in Bulgaria.

Another planned topic was to "consider the possibilities of Moscow providing the wind in the sails of Serbia in the energy sense, because our country had high hopes for the construction of South Stream."

Nikolic yesterday told the daily that he thought it was also possible to agree on a revision of the current energy agreement between Serbia and Russia.

He said that a conversation should be had with Kremlin officials "without anger and that Serbia cannot be the only one to bear the consequences of the changed circumstances with regard to the construction of the pipeline."

Putin yesterday also spoke about South Stream with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev will on Monday discuss the same topic.

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