President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to Moscow, and to congratulate you in person on being elected President of Serbia. I wish you to implement everything that was stated in your election programme and to fulfil the Serbian people’s expectations.
There are many challenges and they are tough. I hope that the cooperation between Serbia and Russia will help us reach the goals our country has set and tackle the problems facing the Serbian leadership.
You are well aware of our position on complex, sensitive international issues. We firmly believe that UN resolutions must be implemented, particularly Resolution 1244.
In terms of economic cooperation, I can state with satisfaction that trade between our countries increased by almost 50% in the past year. Russian investments in the Serbian economy amount to $1.4 billion. Overall, that is a good indicator.
In 2010 Russia issued a $200 million-loan to Serbia and now we are ready to release the second tranche of $800 million. These funds will be spent on infrastructure projects and the Russian side is ready to take part in them. We expect our Serbian partners to submit concrete proposals on the feasibility of the suggested ventures in Serbia. Mr President, I would like to ask you to issue instructions on this matter to the relevant newly created managerial and executive bodies.
Most importantly, you know that Serbia is not only our traditional, highly valued partner in the Balkans; we see Serbs as our spiritual brothers. That is what lies at the heart of our relationship now and in the future. Welcome.
President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic (re-translated): Thank you, Mr President.
I would like to offer my congratulations on the United Russia party congress. The Serbian Progressive Party, whose leader I am, has a cooperation agreement with United Russia. We have just finished the campaign and have won the elections. I am proud that I am the leader of the political party that has ties with United Russia. I am proud that my administration’s policies will be consistent with the interests of both Serbia and Russia.
We are grateful for Russia’s support to Serbia, especially with regard to Serbia’s sovereignty in Kosovo and Metohija. I am confident that cooperation between Serbia and Russia will develop very dynamically. I assure you that Serbia is Russia’s strong partner in the Balkans. I can tell you what I said openly during the election campaign to the citizens of Serbia. I said: “I am certain that I will win the presidential election. I would lose only if I was running against Vladimir Putin.” You are genuinely loved in Serbia, and you have earned that love with the way you govern Russia.
Serbia is moving towards joining the EU. It is a long path with an uncertain outcome. We will build our nation in accordance with the rules of the European Union. I have not heard that one of the conditions is that we must recognise the independence of Kosovo and Metohija. That is something we could not do, even if it means that we have to break off the talks. In line with the National Assembly resolution, Serbia is obliged to observe military neutrality, so NATO will never be in Serbia. I openly said all that to the Serbian people during the campaign and they voted for me.
I am aware of Russia’s loan to Serbia: we received $200 million in support. It was a very simple project. I assure you that we will do everything necessary to ensure that Serbia uses the funds supplied by Russia to implement beneficial projects.
When we were preparing for the elections, we developed many projects and will submit our joint investment proposals to Russia. States and nations are bound by economic interests but Serbia and Russia are joined by much more than that. The faster the quality of life improves in Russia, the faster it will improve in Serbia. Therefore, I wish you great success in the reforms you have started.
I would like us to agree on a date for a new visit to be scheduled after my inauguration, after I take office as President of Serbia. I will do everything I can to quickly form a new Government, which will be tasked with establishing close cooperation with the Russian Government.
Thank you for everything you have done for Serbia until now and everything you will do in the future.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you, Mr President.
I have an unusual request for you. The outgoing Serbian President Boris Tadic is your political opponent. Nevertheless, he and I have worked together for many years as partners. I would like to ask you to convey to him my gratitude for our joint work and my best wishes.
We look forward to the formation of the executive authorities in Serbia, and have no doubt that we will establish effective cooperation. Naturally, you will be a welcome guest in Russia after your inauguration, at any time you like. I want to assure you that the Russian leadership and the Russian public are fully aware of your attitude towards Russia, and we appreciate it.
Tomislav Nikolic: Thank you.