President of Serbia Boris Tadic (translated from Russian): Ladies and gentlemen,
Our meeting with President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev is taking place on this date marking our common victory in liberating Belgrade from the Nazi invaders. It gives me great pleasure to see President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev in Belgrade, in Serbia, on this particular day.
We have used this occasion to examine a whole range of areas in our bilateral relations, and we came to the conclusion that these relations have been expanding for many years.
We have full understanding on political issues in all areas in which our two countries are engaged. Above all, I thanked President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev for Russia’s strong and committed support for Serbia’s territorial integrity with regard to Kosovo, and reaffirmed that Serbia will not change its policy on Kosovo.
Serbia remains committed to the principles of international law and to using diplomatic and political means to preserve its territorial integrity. We will wait patiently for a fair decision from the international tribunal, and then we will be ready to start negotiating with the Albanians on the region’s future autonomy. But Serbia will never directly or indirectly recognise Kosovo’s independence. This is the basic principle of our policy.
Ladies and gentlemen, we share more in our history than the common struggle against Nazism. We also share cultural ties, centuries-old contacts between our peoples. Just recently we found a document, the first official act on cooperation between our peoples. The document is dated 1509. In other words, five centuries have passed since official relations between our countries began.
Today, we are building up our economic relations with Russia. This is hugely important for Serbia, for developing our economy and for our country in general. Russia’s President and Prime Minister have shown understanding of our economic needs, and we are grateful for this.
We are taking part in the South Stream project together. This project has strategic importance not just for Serbia or Russia but for the whole of Europe, because energy is a key issue for the European continent’s development.
We also discussed cooperation in many other areas. One particularly important area is building the humanitarian basis for taking action in disaster situations, for example, fighting forest fires or other major natural disasters, which, unfortunately, are all too frequent. We want to set up a disaster response centre with our Russian partners in the town of Nis. We consider this extremely important.
Our cooperation in this area has already proved its worth. Russian pilots did a good job helping to fight the forest fires in southern Europe two years ago. Were it not for this action, our region of Europe could have faced an environmental catastrophe.
Our governments signed an agreement on this centre today, and we are grateful to Russia, as we think the construction of this centre in Nis has fundamental importance for the safety of everyone living in this region, and not only for Serbia.
We also outlined plans in many other areas of economic cooperation. This includes investing in infrastructure and building railways. These were our wishes. We highlighted the fact that building transport corridors across Serbia is important not only for our own citizens and economy but for all of our neighbours too, for all European countries, and for Russia too, of course.
We want to complete this network of modern and highly efficient transport corridors. The opportunity also exists for building new port capacity on the Danube.
The Danube has great importance for Europe. Russia also has its interests here, and Serbia does too. We discussed investment over the coming 5–10 years. I am very pleased that all of our initiatives have met with a positive response.
Ladies and gentlemen, Russia is a vital partner today and a major player in international politics, not just because it is such a large country, but also because historically it has always taken part in all global events. I share the President of Russia’s view that we have come to a new stage in building international relations. International constitutions have tremendous importance now, perhaps more than ever before, all the more so as the global financial crisis has affected all of us.
We all agreed after the UN General Assembly’s last session that a new stage in the development of international relations has begun, and we hope that this will meet our people’s greatest expectations and will give all of the international organisations, including the United Nations, greater influence.
The world cannot resolve problems today without involving all important players and countries in this process. Russia is one of the most important countries in the world today and is unquestionably a major player in all areas of international affairs, from economic issues to security.
We have examined very attentively the proposals the Russian President made on European security, and we are very happy with them. Serbia’s policy is that we are open to all future initiatives in this area, because security is a vital matter for all of us, for all governments and countries in Europe.
I want to stress too that we also share the view that the economic crisis and the events that have affected the entire world and the Serbian and Russian economies too also pose a challenge in terms of security. We therefore need to establish a new global economic system and put in place the new economic institutions that will take preventive action to ensure that global economic crises do not happen again, because they can have disastrous consequences for everyone who lives on this planet, and for our economies too, of course.
Our meeting today really was an event of historic significance. This was the first meeting between the Serbian and Russian presidents on Serbian soil. Our bilateral relations have always been distinguished by an exceptional level of mutual understanding. We have always stood together at critical moments in our history. I therefore want to say how very happy I am to receive today in Serbia, in Belgrade, President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, and I am sure that everyone in Serbia feels the same way.
Once more, thank you very much for coming to Serbia.
President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Ladies and gentlemen, media representatives,
Of course first and foremost I should thank President of Serbia Boris Tadic for his invitation to visit on this special day, the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade from the Nazis. Like a number of other important dates, this date will always unite our peoples. We fought together against Nazism and worked together to create independent countries.
When we discussed this subject in restricted format, in my view Mr President made a very perceptive remark. He said that regardless of who the leaders of the Russian Federation or Serbia are, this date will always serve as a symbol of the union that binds us together. Let us hope that those who come after, our posterity, will always share this vision.
The Great Victory is indeed our common heritage. Today we will be laying wreaths at a monument in the Cemetery of the Liberators of Belgrade, and paying our respects to the soldiers of the Yugoslav People's Liberation Army and the Soviet Army who died for the freedom and independence of our countries and for the liberation of Europe. I am sure that these pages of history will remain forever in the memories of our grateful descendants.
The one who speaks second in these events always has a harder job than the host, because almost all the topics we touched on today Mr President has already described brilliantly. He spoke of the international issues that we discussed and talked about the long-term projects that link the Russian Federation and Serbia. Nevertheless, I would like to reiterate that we did indeed enjoy a full-fledged and very productive discussion and managed to assess relations between our countries. They are expanding and in recent years a great deal has been done, for which I would like to thank the President of Serbia in particular. This includes the creation of new projects that have bound our countries very tightly together; decisions were taken that required political will and an accurate assessment of the situation. I believe that we are on the right path and that the big projects on which we are cooperating reflect our historical relationship and the atmosphere of friendship and trust that has traditionally linked our peoples. This applies to virtually all aspects of our cooperation.
The President has described our major agreements as the standard bearers of our cooperation. I won't go into a whole bunch of detail on this. But I will say that we are participating in the modernisation of NIS-Petroleum Industry of Serbia, which rightfully claims to be a regional leader in the field of energy. This is a very large project. We are also involved in the transnational pipeline project South Stream which is now entering a very active phase, and the renovation of the Banatski Dvor underground gas storage depot, all of which are examples of the strategic nature of our relationship. And we believe that our countries' economic development and ultimately Europe's energy security on which we are working so actively, so indefatigably, you might say, will depend on the success of these projects.
You know that Russia has always been a major energy-producing country. We specifically put forward a number of new ideas in this field because European security is not only based on respect for international principles, the principles of international law, but also requires the regulation of energy issues. And one of Russia's recent initiatives is devoted to precisely this subject. We are open to talking about the current energy security architecture with all countries and with our close partners in Serbia.
We talked about transportation projects, including railways, and about the possibilities of developing alternative energies. All these questions must remain on our agenda because I'm sure that if two presidents talk about these issues, they have a chance of being implemented and will be in demand in the future.
Our relations in the cultural and educational spheres have great potential. The current exchanges between our countries and our peoples are being strengthened. By the way, these have been facilitated by the legislative framework that has been put together in the area of visa support. In the autumn of next year the Days of Russian Spiritual Culture will be held in Serbia, and in 2011 we will have the Days of Serbia in Russia. Of course we must continue to encourage comprehensive cultural exchanges and all the more so because, as Mr President correctly said, our relations are centuries-old. The spiritual sphere is obviously one area where our countries are especially close and we must strengthen not only the economic component of our relationship but its spiritual aspects as well. In my view this is very important.
Our countries' assessments of the situation in Europe and throughout the world are very much in accord. Mr President and I met during the General Assembly of the United Nations, but we only managed to shake hands and to exchange a few warm words. Nevertheless, today we continued this discussion and talked about a new configuration for international security. It is not just recently that the world became multi-polar – it always was, even, incidentally, during the confrontation between the western and eastern blocs, because life does not easily divide up into blocs. But now it is not only multi-polar, but virtually all countries have come to recognise this, including the leading international players. This is important because it shows that we really are aware of the difficulties associated with international development today.
We have similar approaches for assessing the international situation and issues of European security. Mr President has spoken about Russia's initiative in the field of European security. Of course we are keen to promote this initiative together with our Serbian partners, we are ready to explain what it means. Today I again told Mr President that this initiative is designed for all European states, irrespective of their affiliation. I am sure that for a very long time there will be countries in Europe that do not belong to NATO or some other organisations. But this does not mean that there should not be a single platform for them to discuss the most topical European issues. And we can create such a platform by virtue of our concerted efforts.
Let me single out for special mention the very delicate, very sensitive issue of Kosovo and Metohija. Russia will continue to support Serbia on this issue of defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity. This support is based on the principles of international law.
We also respect other solutions that Serbia has put forward, including its decision to develop its European integration. I am confident that we can build a relationship that will be based on partnership and mutual respect and, at the same time, that our nations will grow within the structures that we have chosen for ourselves.
I would like to thank Mr President for his very engaging and constructive approach to all the issues we discussed. And I am sure that this very first visit of a President of the Russian Federation in this new format of the historical existence of our two countries will be successful. Let me again thank our Serbian friends for their invitation. We are particularly pleased to be here on this day with you. And I am sure that the continuation of today's talks will be beneficial for our countries.