Selakovic: With Lavrov about cooperation, but also Kosovo and Metohija and visit by President Putin

15. Apr 2021.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia Nikola Selakovic has left today for a two-day official visit to the Russian Federation, where he will discuss the promotion of cooperation between the two countries with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.

In addition to deepening bilateral cooperation and continuing political consultations, the Minister said in a joint interview with Tanjug and the Russian agency RIA that general issues related to Kosovo and Metohija would be on the table, as well as Russia's continued support to Serbia's clear political position concerning negotiations about Kosovo and Metohija.

Selakovic pointed out that these talks were also a preparation for the visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to Belgrade, that is Serbia, and stated that he was convinced that the visit would be realized this year, while noting that the consolidation of treaty situation between the two countries and two Ministries would be discussed in Moscow.

He reminded that around 140 different bilateral agreements between the two countries were currently in force and that dozens of different treaties are currently being drafted, which would certainly be the subject of talks in Moscow.

He emphasized that for a Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia every opportunity to meet with the Russian counterpart was very important.

"Russia is not only a strategic partner of Serbia, but also a friend for many centuries, brotherly state and brotherly people to the Serbian people and the state of Serbia. Russia strongly supports the policy of our territorial integrity and sovereignty when it comes to Kosovo and Metohija, it is our ally in international organizations and fora, but it is also a major economic partner of Serbia", the Minister stated.

Selakovic pointed to the fact that cooperation on regional issues would be another topic of discussions in Moscow.

"Russia is an active factor on the Balkan Peninsula and is not only present in Serbia, but is vitally interested in peace and progress of the entire region. We will also talk about the continuation of economic cooperation, which is an extremely important link in the relations between our two countries", he said and added that the economic cooperation had long gone beyond the limits of trade in goods in the field of energy and was now prominent in other spheres of joint action as well.

When asked about the pressures on Serbia due to its friendly relations with Russia, Selakovic replied that Serbia was a country committed to the European integration path, but that on the other hand it jealously preserved, promoted and built its friendly relations with other countries, especially those with whom the friendship lasted for an extremely long time and represented a tradition and a given category in our foreign policy. "It is absolutely true that the Russian Federation is one such state", he emphasized.

He said that at a series of meetings and events Serbia was faced with the topic of ties between Serbia and Russia being raised and assessed that it was clear that these were in fact pressures when this was discussed or attempted to be discussed in a way that would imply a change in our position.

"If Serbia is constantly scolded for not fully following the EU's foreign policy when it comes to Russia, then it is clear to you what this is aimed at. When you look at the core of the matter, Serbia is the only country in this part of Europe that has not imposed sanctions on Russia", he recalled and stated that this was something that would not change.

Asked whether additional relaxation was planned in terms of travel to the two countries, Selakovic said that Serbia was talking about it with all its partners and that this would certainly be one of the topics of conversations in Moscow as well.

"We have already reached one such agreement with the friendly Greece, which will make going on summer vacation possible. I am convinced that we will expand the circle of those countries. It is of great interest that we start to establish as soon as possible the level of transport, which is not only part of exchange of commodities and capital, but also people between the two countries", he emphasized.

Regarding the decrease in the volume of trade in goods, Selakovic said that the pandemic disrupted economic flows in the whole world.

"It is well-known that our two governments have formed a committee on economic and trade cooperation, which holds meetings regularly, and will certainly make analyses and determine in which segment the reduction took place. This has not only happened with Russia, but with all other countries, too", he said.

Selakovic said that it was a fact that there was definitely room for enhancing cooperation both in terms of imports from Russia and exports from Serbia to Russia, and pointed out that, with the exception of 2020 that was not a good point of reference, it was apparent that the increase in exports to Russia and a trend of growth in the trade in goods were consistent in previous years, which would be further worked on.

"There is almost no area of cooperation in which there are no prospects for the development of trade in goods. We will continue to deepen the cooperation", he added.

We are, he added, two countries that are strategic partners, but in addition to that strategic partnership, our relations are characterized by the fact that we have a free trade regime, and the situation that the Eurasian Union market is open to Serbia, all the way to the field of military and technical cooperation.

When asked by RIA about holding joint military exercises of the Serbian and Russian armies, Selakovic stressed that Serbia remained faithful and committed to its status of a militarily neutral state that did not see its future in military alliances and pacts, which enabled it to participate in and carry out joint activities, including exercises with states that are signatories to various treaties.

"We are a militarily neutral state that builds its relations with all peace-loving countries in the world and with all those who wish Serbia well, and the Russian Federation is certainly at the very top of the list of those countries, and we will further develop and improve such cooperation with them", he added.

Asked whether there was progress in the implementation of the agreement on the construction of a nuclear research center, which Serbia and Russia signed two years ago, he said that the project still stands and added that the pandemic had stopped many aspects of life, including the development of such a project.

That project, he said, will not only benefit Serbia, but researchers and scientists from the entire region, and at the moment, no one knows when it will be realized, due to the pandemic.

Answering the question of RIA about the cooperation between Serbia and Russia regarding the Sputnik V vaccine, but also the assistance during the pandemic, Selakovic reminded that Russia, owing to the contact between President Vucic and President Putin, was helping our country from the very beginning of the pandemic.

"That cooperation has also continued from the moment the vaccine was developed. Serbia is the best example in Europe, owing to the seriousness of the President and the Government it managed to organize a good procurement of vaccines and then also organize the vaccination of our population in an exceptional way", he emphasized.

Selakovic pointed out that owing to both the help that came from China and Russia, and the contacts that were maintained with western pharmaceutical companies and the leaderships of certain countries, Serbia was the first country to offer its citizens the opportunity to choose a vaccine.

"One of the best news we heard in March was that in cooperation with Russian friends, we will establish the production of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine at our Torlak Institute. This is something that will absolutely set Serbia apart from other countries in the region", he said.

"Serbia has shown what solidarity and responsibility meant in the difficult times of the pandemic. We will continue to behave in the same way. The production of vaccines with Russian friends is one of the big steps into the future", he emphasized and added that for Serbia the issue of vaccines was not a question of geopolitics, but of humaneness, and above all a question of preserving the health of the population.


Source: Tanjug