Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency Milorad Dodik and Serbian Patriarch Irinej also attended the reception.
* * *
President of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic (retranslated): President Putin, Chairman Dodik, Prime Minister Brnabic, President of the National Assembly Gojkovic, esteemed guests, Your Holiness,
I am honoured to welcome all of you in Serbia, and I would like to express my delight at the visit of President Putin.
Mr President, my toast will be very short. Thank you for everything you have done for Serbia.
I said before that we would never forget what you did for Serbia in 2015. I believe you can feel the love and respect of the Serbian people today, and you will have more proof of this in the evening. The police have told me that 125,000 people have gathered in Belgrade’s central streets, which has never happened over the past 30 years. This is the result of your dedicated work and the respect you have shown for our small country, Serbia.
Our gratitude, friendship and the sincere fraternal feelings we have for the Russian people will last forever. Our friendship has taken a public expression today thanks to you, Mr President.
There is a huge difference between you and those who were before you. This is why we feel even more grateful to Russia and why we respect Russia and the Russian people even more than in the past years.
Mr President, I wish all the best to you and your people. I wish health, every success and happiness to you. I would like to say that Serbia will forever remain a free and independent country and a friend of Russia.
Here is to health!
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, friends, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you once again for this warm welcome and for the invitation to visit your country.
I have said this at the news conference, but I would like to say again that Serbia and Russia are connected by centuries-long friendship and close spiritual ties.
Serbia has always demonstrated, both in good times and in hard times, its strong will and independence, and it has always treasured its sovereignty. Today we have every opportunity not only to overcome our difficulties and trials, but also to do so with dignity, to attain the results we strive for and to gain the upper hand.
Mr President, you have recently shown strong will not only in foreign affairs but also in your domestic policy and in economic matters. I believe that Serbia had a surplus budget for a second year running. It is a very good indicator of your success.
I hope that Russian-Serbian cooperation will not only contribute to our relations but also to the development of our states.
I would like to wish every success to you and to all your colleagues and prosperity to the Serbian people. I raise this toast to your health and the health of everyone here, as well as to the strengthening of Russian-Serbian friendship.