President Vladimir Putin: Dear Mr President and Mr Prime Minister! Ladies and gentlemen!
Today, we have witnessed and participated in the opening of an important new chapter in Russian-Serbian cooperation. There has been an agreement signed by the governments of our countries concerning cooperation in the oil and gas sector, as well as a protocol on the basic terms governing Gazprom Neft’s acquisition of 51 percent of the shares in Naftna Industrija Srbije. These contracts are essential for extending our bilateral cooperation. In fact, these contracts formalize the strategic partnership in the energy sector between our two countries.
With the signing of these agreements, Serbia has become a key transit hub in a system designed to supply Russian energy to the south of Europe. This means that we now have a long-term, reliable and highly efficient system that, most importantly, significantly strengthens energy security for Serbia and the entire European continent. The joint visit to Moscow by Serbia’s leaders, President Boris Tadic and Prime MinisterVojislav Kostunica, confirms the importance of today’s event. Their decision to attend the ceremony for the signing of these contracts indicates their sincere desire for the continual strengthening of relations with Russia in all areas.
Let me stress once again that the Serbian people can be certain of having a reliable friend and partner in Russia. During our exchange of views today, we reiterated that Russia is categorically against any unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo. This would risk doing serious damage to the whole system of international law, and have negative consequences for the Balkans and for stability in other regions of the world.
By the way, we note that Russia's position on this issue has received support from some European politicians who, despite the political domination of bloc discipline (especially, of course, within NATO), have shown considerable political courage and demonstrated independent judgement. In the best traditions of European political culture they are seeking to extend the principles of democracy and justice to the international sphere. The best proof of this is the resolution adopted on 22 January by PACE (the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe), which calls for negotiations between Pristina and Belgrade to continue and thus in fact confirms Russia’s position on this matter.
And, finally, I want to stress once again: the strategic importance of the contracts signed today is immense. I want to thank our Serb colleagues for working as a team with us in preparing for this very important event in the development of our bilateral relations. Thank you very much for your attention.
Serbian President Boris Tadic (as translated from a Russian translation): Mr President, Mr Medvedev, Mr Kostunica! Ladies and gentlemen!
I must say that I am very glad that we have had the opportunity today to sign an agreement on strategic partnership in the field of energy between the government of Serbia and the government of Russia, and also to decide on a framework agreement that will determine further investment and economic activity for Gazprom Neft in other areas. This agreement is of great strategic importance for Serbia and its citizens, our economy, our industry and the entire country's development. This is an opportunity for citizens to obtain energy for heating, and an opportunity for Serbian companies and Serbian industry generally to work in more advantageous conditions and to have a stable source of natural gas for many decades.
In addition, Serbia now occupies a pre-eminent strategic position in south-east Europe because the gas will go through it to other countries on the southern flank of the European Union. Serbia is thus serving the interests of both Russia and the European Union, since the pipeline route will pass through our country. We are very pleased that in strategic, historical and economic terms Serbia now occupies a brand new position at the beginning of the 21st century.
Serbia has deep historical ties with Russia. The bonds between the Russian and Serbian people are very strong. In addition, we share extensive economic and strategic interests. The signing of these contracts is tangible evidence of these common interests.
Mr. President! I would like to thank you once again for Russia's principled position on the future status of Kosovo and Metohija, which has already been the subject of negotiations for several years. Because of Russia’s position on issues of international law in the UN Security Council, and its position on the preservation of international law (the territorial integrity of all member states of the UN), this question is now the focus of international politics. Serbia will never abandon its legitimate rights in Kosovo and Metohija. Serbia will never cease to defend its territorial integrity through a policy of peace, diplomacy and mutual understanding. Serbia is ready to compromise on the future status of Kosovo and Metohija, but Serbia has consistently held the position that the UN Security Council should oversee the whole process by which the status of Kosovo and Metohija will be determined. This applies to their future status, and to all missions that might be sent to Kosovo and Metohija for the purposes of peacekeeping operations.
In any event, I would like to reiterate our strategic interests: for three years we have talked about the preparation of an agreement on cooperation in the oil and gas field. I am very happy that we were finally able to sign this agreement in the interests of the citizens of Russia and Serbia, for our companies and the development of our economies. Thank you again. Premier Kostunica and I would like to reiterate on behalf of the Republic of Serbia that this is a very important issue for our country.
Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica (as translated from a Russian translation): Dear President Putin and distinguished guests!
Today is really a very important day for Serbia and for relations between Russia and Serbia. With the signing of agreements on cooperation in the oil and gas field, we are in fact building strategic cooperation between the Russian Federation and Serbia. As far as Serbia is concerned, this cooperation will simultaneously help strengthen our economy as a whole, facilitate the flow of investment and lead to the creation of new jobs. Today's agreement will improve the prosperity of all Serbia’s citizens.
During today's conversations, I talked about the mood of Serbia’s citizens, the reactions of ordinary people: they are very encouraged by the signing of this agreement. Moreover, I want to use this opportunity to emphasise once again that the Russian Federation and Serbia have to this point maintained a joint policy — that is the best way to describe it – concerning the defense of the territorial integrity of Serbia, including Kosovo and Metohija. This policy is designed to maintain international order and the basic principles of international law, the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
In defending Kosovo as part of Serbia, Russia and Serbia have rallied to the defense of the very basis of international law, security and stability in the world. The principled, fraternal support of Russia is of the greatest importance for Serbia. And at today's talks, I had the opportunity to thank Russia for its support. But of course this is also an opportunity to show that, in addition to Russia and Serbia, there are many other countries in the world that advocate the respect for international rights, even though there are some who are opposed to this.
Serbia is currently threatened by a unilateral declaration of independence on the part of Kosovo, and support for or recognition of this illegal pseudo-state within Serbia on the part of some countries. In this regard the European Union is about to engage in some particularly dangerous actions. They are talking about sending a civil mission to Kosovo. This would be a direct violation of the Security Council resolution, and constitute much more than the unilateral recognition of independence. In fact, this would amount to direct participation in the creation of extra-judicial, illegitimate, illegal state.
Today, we pointed out that cooperation between Russia and Serbia in the negotiations on the status of Kosovo should continue, despite being rejected by the Americans and some European nations. For Serbia, it is very important that Russia has always recognized Serbia’s current, internationally recognized borders: Kosovo is part of Serbia, an integral part. Thank you.
First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitrii Medvedev: Mr Prime Minister, dear colleagues!
I would like to join those who have been emphasizing that today something very important has occurred, by means of which the very close political relations that bind our two countries together will be converted into economic results. We can only be delighted by this. The mutually beneficial investments, which will be implemented with the signing of the relevant protocol and agreements, will serve the interests of our countries and provide for the interests of our peoples, but ultimately they are aimed at strengthening energy security in Europe.
And I would like to thank with all my heart those who participated in the preparation of these agreements, the government experts from both countries as well as company managers and experts who have been involved in this splendid new initiative in our economic relations.
Thank you, and I hope that many new successes lie ahead.