Serbian president likens Russia to "mother"

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic thanked Russia on Thursday "on behalf of our little Serbia" for the country's assistance.

Source: B92, Beta, Tanjug, TASS
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During his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who is in Belgrade for the OSCE Ministerial Council, Nikolic stressed Serbia would not join the sanctions imposed on Russia.

"I wish you success at the conference in Belgrade, and that you speak to those with whom you are currently not talking enough, because only something good can come out of that," Nikolic said.

He expressed gratitude on behalf of Serbia to Russia and in particular its president, Vladimir Putin, for fighting against global terrorism, expressing his regret over the Russian victims, but also noting that the battle's goal was great, and that Serbia was "ready to offer every possible assistance to anyone who is opposing this evil."

"We will certainly cooperate with Russia more intensively than until now, because we wish to show we are against sanctions and to show our friends from Europe that to be in the EU does not mean to be against Russia, and that to be a friend of Russia does not mean to be against the EU," Nikolic said.

He stressed that the two countries cooperate well politically and that he hopes Serbia had not caused Russia too much trouble as it was helping solve "important problems."

"A person has friends around the world, but most often recalls their mother - Serbia is like that too, when it most needs help it thinks of the Russian Federation and that help has not been missing or withheld from us, through history," he said.

The president also said that Serbia "will implement everything it agrees to, but it will never recognize Kosovo."

"You should not support us if one day we betray it, and also we will not impose sanctions on Russia, because we suffered from sanctions for much too long to be introducing them against someone else," Nikolic said and added:

"Here your role is very big, major, although many do not want to acknowledge it, you are influencing this to be a gathering on European peace and security."

According to the president, the Su-24 of the Russian Aerospace Forces was shot down last month in Syria "because of the mistake of somebody in Turkey." But, Nikolic observed, "Russia is great - and can find the right way out of any problem."

The Serbian president believes that the anti-IS fight so far "has not been resolute, but rather selective, and not always aimed against the terrorists, but often against the officially elected representatives in the country (Syria)."

"Whom the people elect deserves to lead the state. No imposition on the people against their free will can be carried out," said Nikolic.

Speaking about the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, he said it was "often not easy - because we are talking to the arrogant, and to the people who have the support of a large part of the western civilization" - but added he appreciated the fact that Serbia had Russia's support.

"We will continue to talk, nothing will be achieved by conflict," said the Serbian president.

Nikolic also asked Lavrov to relay his greetings to Russian President Vladimir Putin and and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

During the meeting, Lavrov said that Russia is ready to continue developing relations with Serbia and increase cooperation in all fields.

Lavrov added he hoped that the cooperation between Serbia and Russia will be even greater in both "the economy and in the international arena."

"We evaluate highly your personal contribution to efforts geared toward strengthening partnership between Russia and Serbia. We are ready to step up and expand cooperation, including in the spheres of economy and European security," Lavrov said, according to TASS.

Moscow is grateful to Belgrade for "expressing solidarity" with Russia after the incident with Turkey’s downing the Russian bomber in Syria, Lavrov said.

Russia and Serbia share the position that all problems in Europe should be addressed via dialogue, without imposing any unilateral approaches, he said.

"We were inspired by your personal participation in the Victory Parade on May 9," the Russian minister noted, adding that a Serbian military unit that was "marching along the country’s main square" represented "a symbol of the unity of our peoples."

"We have always been and will always be allies," Lavrov stressed, TASS reported.

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