By Miloš Mitrović – Belgrade
Serbian defense minister Nebojša Rodić and his Russian counterpart Sergey Shoygu have signed the Agreement on defense cooperation between their respective countries. On Wednesday, Rodić and Shojgu have announced at the meeting in Belgrade that this agreement was a basis for the further three documents which are to be signed; the agreement on military-technical cooperation is the most important.
Serbian president Tomislav Nikolić also met Shoygu and delivered him the Order of the Serbian flag of the first degree. During his meeting with Aleksandar Vučić, Serbian deputy PM, Shoygu emphasized that “Russia is supporting the politics of the Serbian government and the territorial integrity of Serbia as well”. Russia is one of the strongest opponents of unilaterally declared independence of Kosovo.
“Vučić has stressed that Serbia was complied both with its constitution and declaration on military neutrality which had been adopted by the Parliament”, government press-release stated. In contrast to visits of the defense ministers of other states, which have been welcomed at the Topčider military compound, Shoygu was welcomed at the Palace “Serbia”, as state presidents, daily Politika reported on Thursday. In an unprecedented manner, military exercise had been organized on this occasion.
Serbian defense minister Nebojša Rodić recalled that Shoygu`s visit has been the first one of the Russian defense minister in 14 years. Rodić said that “defense cooperation between Russia and Serbia is strengthening on the new grounds which is logical continuation of the strategic bilateral partnership”.
From his side, Shoygu recalled that the relations between Russia and Serbia “got the new feature” alluding to Russian president Vladimir Putin`s decision to provide trainings of Serbian officers in Russia. He also stressed that mutual military exercises have been agreed, including those with air forces and air defense forces as well.
Improving contacts between General Staff of the two countries and cooperation in defense industry has also been agreed during Shoygu`s visit to Belgrade. With regard to the previous defense cooperation Shoygu said “it was at immodest level”.
However, Serbian officials did not gave any details about future cooperation. Vučić`s cabinet stated that “modernization of the Serbian army has been agreed”; loan-based purchase of the Russian planes MIG 35, which had been announced several time during this year, was not mentioned. In August, Politika reported that Serbia would purchase Russian air defense system based on the Russian loan as well. Nonetheless, the information has not been confirmed nor commented since then.