Serbia can count on Russia's "full support" over Kosovo
Sergei Lavrov, who will be in Belgrade on Friday, will discuss bilateral ties with Serbia’s leaders, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman has announced.Source: RIA Novosti, Sputnik
"Talks with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, and First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic will give them a chance to 'check their watches on the main aspects of bilateral and international agendas," Aleksandr Lukashevich said.
The Russian foreign minister and his Serbian hosts will also "assess the dynamics of realizing agreements reached earlier, and outline the further development of relations," Sputnik quoted Lukashevich as telling RIA Novosti.
The spokesman added that Lavrov's upcoming visit will allow him to "exchange opinions with Serbia's leadership on a broad range of bilateral issues, including in the light of the outcome of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Serbia on October 16, 2014."
Lukashevich said that in 2014, trade turnover between Russia and Serbia saw a 7.6-percent increase compared to the 2013 figure, and that Russian exports to Serbia grew by almost 20 percent.
"In light of the restrictions on agricultural imports from the EU member states imposed by Russia as a response to the Western sanctions, the situation proved favorable to increase shipment of respective goods from Serbia," Lukashevich said.
According to the spokesman, Russia's total investments in Serbia, including the capital that arrived via third countries, reached USD 3.9 billion compared to 2014, while Serbian leaders "accepted with understanding" the decision to abandon the South Stream project.
"We are convinced that energy sector cooperation with Belgrade will continue successfully, when it comes to deliveries of Russian gas to Serbia via the existing routes, as well as in view of the initiative to open a large gas hub on the Turkey-Greece border to bring further supplies to South-Eastern Europe," Lukashevich said.
He added that Lavrov and Dacic - as the OSCE chairperson-in-office - will also have "intensive dialogue on issues from the jurisdiction of that organization."
"We welcome the aspiration of our Serbian colleagues to approach OSCE's issues in a measured and objective manner, respecting the positions of all member-states. We count on coordination of efforts with Serbia during the remainder of its chairmanship," the Russian MFA official said.
He added that OSCE's additional efforts were necessary to stabilize the situation in the Balkans, "above all in view of the current compilation of the situation in Macedonia."
According to Lukashevich, the cooperation between Moscow and Belgrade in international affairs is advancing, despite Brussels' anti-Russia policy.
"Belgrade does not see its aim for the European Union membership as an obstacle for further strengthening of its ties with Russia or coordinating with us its approach toward global and European issues. Serbia did not join the anti-Russia sanctions of the European Union and took a restrained stance regarding the situation in Ukraine," Lukashevich said.
He added added that the issues of peace and stability in Balkan region and especially the settlement in Kosovo will have a special place in the Russian-Serbian dialogue.
"Serbia can still fully count on Russia's support in the issues of protecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity with regard to Kosovo," he stated.
The Russian MFA spokesman also noted that Russian and Serbian presidents met twice this year, first in Yerevan, and then in Moscow, and added:
"The participation in the (Victory Day) ceremonies of the Serbian leader, whose people showed heroism and self-sacrifice in the fight against the Nazi evil, confirmed the friendly character of relations between our countries. There is also symbolism in the marching of a Serbian Guard sub-echelon on Red Square during the May 9 parade."