Beginning of Russian-Serbian talks
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, I am very happy to see you.
We have not seen each other for a long time – we met in Moscow in June, I believe, of 2020. A lot of issues have piled up, but despite the problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic, our relations have not only been maintained at all levels but have developed across the board.
Of course, this primarily concerns the economy. While our trade declined by 17-odd percent in 2020, a pandemic year, this year it has grown by over 20 percent during the first nine months alone. This means that we will not only overcome the 2020 recession but will also increase the volume of trade.
Relations between our governments are developing as well, and we expect the Prime Minister of Serbia to visit Moscow in December. The Intergovernmental Commission is working regularly and I receive reports on its performance.
Relations continue in the humanitarian sphere. Serbian students are enrolled in various Russian universities, specialising in various disciplines. We are grateful to you for supporting the Russian language at Serbian schools. Generally, the developments in this sphere are quite positive.
I know that you are particularly concerned over certain issues. This is related to the upcoming expiry of Serbia’s natural gas delivery contract. I think that we will come to an agreement on that. We will instruct our relevant companies to finalise this work; at any rate, we will find a solution that will undoubtedly be acceptable to our Serbian friends. Soon – next spring, in April – you will have elections. I would like to thank you for your attention, the personal attention that you pay to the development of Russian-Serbian relations. I hope that Serbian voters will also appreciate this.
I wish you success at these elections.
President of the Republic of Serbia Aleksandar Vucic: Thank you, Mr President, my dear friend.
I am very happy to see you. Despite, as you have said, the coronavirus pandemic, you have found the time for our meeting, and this is a very important, the most important meeting for me.
I believe relations between Serbia and Russia are now at the highest level in history and are moving forward in all areas. As you know, we are strategic partners and Serbia considers this its privilege.
I would like to convey many thanks to you for your support of our country, its territorial integrity and sovereignty. As you already know, we are seeing a growth of provocations and tension in the region, especially in Kosovo and Metohija. I would like to thank you again for your support at international organisations as well.
Of course, we have done a great deal together. We are still looking forward to seeing you in the Temple of Saint Sava in Belgrade, which we built together.
And, of course, I would like to thank you very much for gas deliveries. You have already noted that this is a vital issue for us. We built this pipeline together from the Bulgarian border to the border with Hungary. Thank you very much again for your attention and your work, your help in Serbia’s development. I wish you and your people all the best.
In conclusion, I would like to express my condolences to you in connection with the tragedy in Kuzbass. I sympathise with you and the families of the victims.
I wish you and Russia all the best. I would like to repeat that I think our relations are the best in history. This is a fact.
Thank you once again for the warm reception and your hospitality.
Vladimir Putin: I would like to thank you for your condolences over the tragedy in Kuzbass.
It really is a great tragedy, people have died. To be honest with you, I have done more than issue the necessary instructions to the agencies that deal with saving people and helping those injured and the victims’ families. My thoughts are with them.
I have spoken several times with Kemerovo Region Governor [Sergei Tsivilyov] and the heads of rescue services. They are doing everything in their power but, unfortunately, the situation is not improving, and they are now risking their own lives. The necessary decisions are being taken on the spot. We hope that as many lives as possible will be saved.
When people pass away, it is always a major tragedy for their families and dear ones. Let us wait until the end of the rescue operation.
As for our relations, I would like to point out one thing. We have mentioned the coronavirus twice, but I am pleased to say that we have not simply delivered Sputnik V to Serbia but also launched its production in Belgrade, which is extremely important for Serbia and the neighbouring countries, where you can send the vaccine that has been produced at your enterprise. So, it is a very positive element of our cooperation, which points to mutual trust and profound cooperation between us.
I have not yet mentioned the military component of our interaction. We regularly conduct joint exercises, and we are also promoting interaction between our security agencies, defence ministries and general staffs. This is certainly benefitting our countries. Your military professionals undergo training at our universities.
A few words about our efforts and joint activities on the international stage, including as regards a settlement in Kosovo. As you are aware, our position of principle is not vulnerable to current political factors. We support your position on Kosovo. I hope that a solution will eventually be found that will meet the interests of all people living in the region.
Aleksandar Vucic: Thank you for your kind words.
Our military-technical cooperation has certainly reached a very high level. We are grateful to you for the wonderful presents, which we have received, and for the standards of our cooperation.
I believe that we will sign many more agreements in various spheres. I believe that our intergovernmental commission is working at the highest and best possible level and that we will see the best possible results in the future.
I would like to thank you once again.