Serbia: Lavrov wraps up meeting in Belgrade; strong bilateral ties confirmed

Serbia: Lavrov wraps up meeting in Belgrade; strong bilateral ties confirmed

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov wrapped up his official visit to Serbia after leaving Belgrade’s Nikola Tesla Airport for Moscow late last night, accompanied by his Serbian counterpart Nikola Selakovic.

The Russian official kicked off his visit by laying a wreath at the Soviet soldiers’ memorial killed in the liberation of Belgrade by Nazi troops in 1944, accompanied by the Serbian President. Alongside the Serbian President, they attended the Touch Ceremony of the Torch that arrived from the Eternal Flame Monument in Kremlin. Lavrov said in a speech at the ceremony that Russia had been an ally of Serbia in the past, and would continue to defend its national interests in the future. Afterwards, the Serbian President and the Russian Foreign Minister also visited the newly built Church of St. Sava, where they laid a wreath at the tomb of Patriarch Irinej in a crypt inside the Church. Lavrov stated he was impressed by the fresco at the Temple created by Russian Federation-funded Russian illustrators, while reading a letter from President Vladimir Putin.

Lavrov was then received by the President of the Serbian National Assembly and then by his Serbian counterpart, with whom they signed the Consultation Plan between the Russian and Serbian Ministries of Foreign Affairs for 2021 and 2022.

In a joint news conference with Lavrov, Selakovic thanked Russia for regularly reporting on Kosovo and Metohija to the UN Security Council, for respecting Resolution 1244 and for implementing the UNMIK report.

The head of Serbian diplomacy pointed out that Russia is defending Serbian interests in other international and European organizations of which Serbia is a member. He stressed that Russian support is of great importance for the protection of the rights of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija, the ownership of the Serbian Orthodox Church, but also for the use of the Serbian language and the Cyrillic alphabet.

Bilateral relations, regional issues and issues of economic and energy cooperation were discussed at the meeting between Aleksandar Vucic and Sergey Lavrov. It was concluded that political relations between the two countries are very good and it was agreed that  cooperation shall intensify.

Serbia will continue its policy of military neutrality and will not align itself with those countries that have imposed economic sanctions on Russia, the Serbian President assured the Russian Foreign Minister in talks yesterday in Belgrade.

At the joint press conference, Aleksandar Vucic thanked Russia, and in particular President Vladimir Putin, for Moscow’s consistency in supporting Serbian national interests in the Kosovo issue, adding that his country would not pursue policies against Russian interests.

On the subject of energy, he said that Serbia would not succumb to pressure for alternative sources of gas supply, describing all other bids for Azeri or other gas as unprofitable, while announcing the opening of the Balkan Stream pipeline, an extension of the Turkish Stream via Bulgaria that will transport Russian gas.

Referring to the Kosovo issue at the press conference, Sergey Lavrov  reiterated that Moscow will support any decision of Serbia and called on the EU not to be so lenient with Pristina, claiming that it systematically violates the agreements signed in the past, among others the 2013 agreement on the establishment of the Community of Serb Municipalities (SZO).

Lavrov also made special reference to military-defense co-operation with Serbia and stressed that Moscow attaches great importance to the region, while agreeing with Vucic’s assessment that developments do not inspire optimism. /ibna