"What Serbia will gain, and what it will lose"
Russia remains a reliable partner of Serbia, Ambassador Aleksandar Chepurin said ahead of the visit of the head of the Russian state to Serbia.Source: Tanjug
Chepurin, paraphrasing filmmaker Emir Kusturica, remarked that Vladimir Putin's word "stands like a fortress."
The upcoming meeting in Belgrade between the presidents of Russia and Serbia - their third in just nine months - will be "a confirmation of mutual trust and understanding, but also an opportunity to point out the need of the two countries to protect national interests in accordance with their needs, instead of satisfying the interests of the West," the ambassador said.
Chepurin also stated that Kosovo will be high on the agenda when Aleksandar Vucic and Vladimir Putin meet.
"We have a very high degree of mutual understanding, which is contributed to by the constant exchange of opinions and information based on trust in the bilateral format, as well as the close coordination of efforts in international structures. Russia will remain a reliable partner of Serbia," he told Tanjug in an interview.
The Russian ambassador says that both Russia and Serbia have before them "the grand task of economic and social renewal, as well as the task of defining a policy of effective protection of their own national interests."
"Protecting the interests of our countries, Russia and Serbia, instead of satisfying the interests of the West - that's basically the philosophy of both the Russian and the Serbian leadership," he stressed.
The visit of Vladimir Putin to Serbia is planned in response to the invitation of Aleksandar Vucic, but also in line with the regular contacts between our leaders, added Chepurin, and announced that current issues in bilateral relations will be discussed during the talks in order to find possibilities for expanding cooperation.
"It is planned to sign a significant number of documents in order to improve the partnership of Russia and Serbia in several directions of priority for the 21st century," he announced, convinced that Russian-Serbian relations will continue to develop positively in the future in all areas, including political contacts, economy, issues security and defense, culture ... that fully corresponds with the interests of the two countries and nations," he said.
"In their New Year messages, Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov stressed Russia's readiness to develop cooperation with Serbia in the spirit of the strategic partnership. The Russian president's visit will give a good impetus for the coming years," Chepurin said.
Asked how he views the hints that the talks between Belgrade and Pristina would continue with the involvement of great powers, including Russia, he said Moscow has been taking part in resolving the Kosovo issue from the very start - at the UN Security Council sessions.
The UN Security Council, which reviews the UN secretary-general's reports on the situation in the province every three months, is an important platform for considering this problem, Chepurin said.
"We consider counterproductive and unacceptable the moves of Pristina's sponsors who undermine the regular schedule and format of these sessions, which has already led to a significant weakening of international control over the situation in Kosovo, and its dangerous straining," Chepurin said.
He said that Russia will continue to staunchly support Belgrade in protecting its national interests, sovereignty and territorial integrity in accordance with international law and UN Security Council Resolution 1244, which aims to achieve a political solution through negotiations.
Asked if he thinks the solution to the Kosovo problem is at hand, as US President Trump believes - or is in fact far off, as Serbian President Vucic says - Chepurin replied that he is convinced that such a solution is still far away.
He pointed out that, regardless of the appeals of the Serbian leadership to find a compromise, the attempts to impose the recognition of the so-called "Republic of Kosovo" on Belgrade have not stopped.
"As for Russia, we will continue to support Serbia in seeking a political solution. Russia is ready to support an option that will be acceptable to Serbia and the Serbian people," said Chepurin.
When it comes to taxes on goods from central Serbia imposed by Pristina a month ago, the Russian ambassador said that Moscow still hopes that common sense will ultimately prevail, and that Pristina and its sponsors will at least return to the previous state of affairs.
"The feeling that everything is allowed, the shift in tendencies in international relations in favor of Belgrade, the debacle in international organizations, more and more countries withdrawing their decision to recognize Kosovo - all these are the reasons for the retaliatory moves of Pristina," the diplomat warned.
And revanchism "never has any good consequences," he added.
"Because, for every poison, an antidote is found sooner or later. And that's why it's better for Pristina to have dialogue with Belgrade," said Chepurin.
As for the news that Lithuania is once again blocking the process of Serbia's EU accession due to Serbia's foreign policy towards Russia, Chepurin believes that the role of marginal factors in the process of European integration should not be overestimated.
He added that Moscow has always openly warned that there are no reasons for anti-Russian sanctions (which Serbia has not joined) and that they are causing great damage to cooperation on the continent.
"The EU has painted itself into a corner. The attempts to involve Serbia as well are absurd. The more European countries are able to lead an independent policy, the more visible an exit will be from this situation," said Chepurin.
The Russian ambassador noted that the EU, although preserving certain attractiveness, is no longer "the cream of the crop" and is now facing multiple crises - which Russia is not in the least happy about.
Asked if he expects EU's pressure on Serbia to impose sanctions on Russia to continue, regardless of how far or near Serbia's membership in the organization may be, the ambassador said it was difficult to predict how this would be aligned with the dynamics of Serbia moving towards EU membership.
"The deadlines for EU's possible enlargement are not clear and they are always moving. Of course, it is important to pay attention to what Serbia would gain, and what it would lose," Chepurin concluded.