March 28, 2017 - Fort Russ News -
Izvestiya, translated by J. Arnoldski -
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić held negotiations in the Kremlin yesterday, where they discussed bilateral relations and the situation on the Balkan Peninsula. The Russian leader also wished the head of the Serbian government good luck in the upcoming presidential elections, remarking that Moscow will cooperate with any force that Serbia’s voters support.
Vladimir Putin appealed to Vucic as the main candidate for president: “We know that presidential elections are set to be held very soon in Serbia. We are confident that the elections being held in current conditions, in today’s Serbia, will be of the highest level. We wish the current government success. But no matter how the political situation develops, we have no doubt that relations between our countries will develop just as positively, in the spirit of friendship which has formed and which characterizes our relations in recent years.”
The Russian President also remarked that trade turnover between the two countries has begun to grow thanks to the efforts of the Serbian government under Vucic’s leadership.
“We’ve observed a slight increase in trade turnover in the past year of around 2%. Thanks to the efforts of your government, this result was achieved mainly thanks to the growth of exports from Serbia to Russia. And there are leaders here - the growth of agricultural product exports from Serbia is somewhere around 40%,” Putin summarized.
Putin proposed his Serbian colleague that they discuss the situation in the region which, according to the Russian leader’s appraisal, has somewhat deteriorated.
The Serbian Prime Minister preferred to speak in Russian about problems in the Balkans, saying:
“I would like to say that we need to thank you - you personally and the Russian Federation - for supporting the Republic of Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. And, like you already said, I hope and I am sure that we will have sufficient opportunities to increase our trade and economic relations. And together we’ll also discuss the situation in the region. I think that this is very important for us and for Russia too. It is very important to say that, as you know, we remain committed to our national independence, freedom, and military neutrality.”
One of the most important areas of cooperation between Moscow and Belgrade is military-technical cooperation, which has intensified amidst the backdrop of the Croatian army’s build-up. An agreement has already been reached on transferring to Serbian air forces six MiG-29 fighters, and several dozen units of armored vehicles, such as T-72 tanks and BRDM-2’s, are also planned to be sent to Serbia. Serbian officers have also expressed interest in buying modern air defenses from the Russian Federation.
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