Vladimir Putin: The Yugoslav President and I have issued a joint political statement. I think you will have an opportunity to see it. It gives me great satisfaction to say that we had a very good and extremely outspoken discussion on the entire range of Russian-Yugoslav relations. We welcome the Yugoslav President’s visit to Russia. Yugoslavia is among Russia’s closest partners in the Balkans, and not only because of tradition. Russia has always been on Yugoslavia’s side – both in the years when life was fairly comfortable and in the hardest of times. We intend to continue developing bilateral relations in every sphere.
We have discussed effort coordination on the international scene. Russia welcomes Yugoslavia’s return to all leading international organisations, including the UN and the OSCE, and will promote this return in every possible way. International efforts to guarantee close compliance with all agreements to preserve the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia are of tremendous importance today. We firmly believe it is necessary to abolish as soon as possible all limits on cooperation with Yugoslavia in every field, be it military-technological or economic partnership. It is the duty of the international community to do everything for Yugoslavia’s economic rehabilitation, and Russia is ready to do its part. President Kostunica and I have reached an agreement for Russia urgently to resume gas and other energy supplies interrupted this year. Our experts have started drafting the terms on which such exports will resume.
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Russia is a multi-ethnic country of many religions and denominations. Christians and Muslims have lived here side by side for centuries, and regarded Russia as their home. In the years of trials and tribulations, when the people had to rise in arms and defend their country, all fought for it as their Motherland, irrespective of faith. Today’s meeting of the Church Primates is important for maintaining special bilateral relations. The meeting of the Primates [of the Russian and Serbian Orthodox Churches] is a landmark in our relations, and we sincerely welcome it. Such contacts show why the overwhelming majority of the Russian population has always supported the Yugoslav nation, as it is doing now, however complicated the situation in your country may be.
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The Balkans, I think, remain a problem-laden region, but the latest developments in Yugoslavia give us hope that confrontation and clashes of interests are giving way to democratic procedures and promising settlement.
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We have spent something like an hour and a half with experts and delegation members, and I had a one-to-one talk with President Kostunica. That was, I stress, a very practical and professional discussion, and we were frank with each other. I would also like to say that Mr Kostunica and I have much in common in our opinions of the developments in the Balkans and the world, of the progress of bilateral relations and either country’s multi-lateral contacts, and our countries’ place in the world.
I am very satisfied with our talks, and I think we can, and will, develop our relations on the sound foundation of professionalism and democracy, and on the basis that brought our nations together centuries ago and on which our present-day relations rest. That is a lasting foundation. Both countries stand to gain a great deal from this partnership in the current situation. Russia is able to help Yugoslavia and complement its efforts. Yugoslavia, too, can help Russia in some fields. I am certain that if we take that road, we will succeed.