Nikolic explains decision to "help" in Turkey-Russia crisis
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic says he decided to convey to Russian officials Turkey's desire to restore good relations with Moscow.Source: Sputnik
Nikolic told Sputnik on Wednesday that Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davtoglu during his visit to Belgrade asked him to act as "liaison" for the sake of normalization of Turkey's relations with Russia.
"I did not influence that, that was a plea of the prime minister of Turkey, who asked to be received by me. When I observed that it was not good that this conflict had occurred, that Russia needs Turkey as Turkey needs Russia, that there will be long-term consequences, and that we (Serbia) are traditionally always with Russia, the Turkish prime minister said: 'I know you you are a great friend of Russia. I know you are also a friend of Turkey and I ask you to be a liaison between us so that we could reestablish good relations'," Nikolic said.
The president added that he also told Davutoglu Serbia is too small a country to mediate between "big powers" - but that he was then told "Turkey considers Serbia a big country and a big backbone and stability factor in the Balkans."
"I decided to convey to our friends in Russia their (Turkey's) desire. That was all. I did not accept to mediate, I just heard his proposal, which I think is good," emphasized the Serbian president.
Nikolic stated he would be glad if the two countries started talking, and noted that this "already happened once, precisely in Belgrade" - in an apparent reference to the meeting between Russian and Turkish foreign ministers during an OSCE event in the Serbian capital earlier this month.
"I am glad that Serbia is a country that many trust to able to put them at the same table with the people they are not on good terms with," Nikolic said.
When the Sputnik reporter who interviewed him said that he "accepted an impossible mission, because it is difficult to persuade Russia about something that has already been proven not to be untrue," the president said:
"Davutoglu politely asked me to try to establish contact. I would certainly not mediate had he told me that he wants to wage war, but when he said he wants to make peace - I think it is my duty to convey it to the Russian side."