By Milos Mitrovic – Belgrade
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and United States Vice President Joseph Biden had a telephone conversation on Monday evening, media in Belgrade reported today. According to Tanjug, serbian state owned news agency, Biden has underlined the appreciation and the support, which his country pays to reforms in Serbia.
Phone conversations between Serbian and American officials are not common. Biden’s call to Vucic came ahead of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin visit to Belgrade on October 16. Last month, American ambassador in Serbia Michael Kirby asked “why Putin should come to Serbia”; however, after number of reactions, including that of Russian ambassador Aleksandar Cepurin, Kirby said that Serbia has the sovereign right to invite foreign officials.
During the visit, Putin will attend the manifestations marking the 70th anniversary of Belgrade’s liberation from Nazi Germany. Soviet Red Army played a crucial role in the liberation of the city.
The visit coincides with the tensions between Russia and West over Ukraine crisis. Serbia did not join European Union’s sanctions against Russia and, according to Vucic, “will never do”.
Biden and Vucic have tackled bilateral political and economic relations between Serbia and the United States “during the lengthy and friendly discussion”, Vucic’s cabinet stated.
Serbian national television (RTS) reported that Biden has expressed his hope that Serbia will “remain the stabilisation factor in the whole Western Balkan region”. Vucic told Biden that Serbia is dedicated to its European path and that tough economic reforms would be conducted in accordance with the will of the citizens of Serbia.
Vucic did not reveal whether he and Biden discussed Putin’s visit and Serbia’s participation in Russian energy project South Stream. Prime Minister’s cabinet stated that Vucic and Biden have “exchanged their thoughts on global political and economic trends”.
The White House announced that Vice President Biden has “congratulated” Vucic on his dedication to economic reforms and improvement of business climate in Serbia. According to Washington, Vucic and Biden have also tackled “regional political dynamics in South Eastern Europe”.
On Sunday, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland has appealed to European countries which participate in South Stream to “stop dirty business” in connection with the project. She stressed that the gas pipeline would increase European dependence on Russian energy sources.
Although Nuland has focused her attention only to EU member states, especially Hungary, it’s obvious that the West is not delighted with Belgrade’s good relations with Moscow.
In August, EU issued document against Vucic government’s plans to encourage Serbian companies to cooperate with Russia at the expense of the companies from EU member states, which have reduced their activity in Russia following the sanctions against Moscow. Vucic reacted by saying that Serbia will follow the EU demands.