Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has told national television he plans to discuss Russian gas supplies to Serbian consumers, railway projects and boosting trade between Moscow and Belgrade at a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
"I hope this will be a good meeting, this is an important meeting for Serbia, we will discuss all important issues, the Kosovo issue, and I will listen to President Putin’s stance on the situation in Europe and the world. It’s important for us that we will continue talks on bilateral cooperation after signing a trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union, our trade in 2018 reached $3.6 bln and over 10 months of this year that level should be surpassed. We are buying more oil and gas, but I think we have opportunities in other areas for boosting cooperation," Vucic told RTS TV channel.
At the meeting, the sides will discuss the projects carried out by the Russian Railways in Serbia. According to the presidents, roads in Serbia have been actively reconstructed and some 1.5 bln euros will be allocated for these projects in the near future, while another 100 mln euros will be spent on a dispatch center, TASS reports.
Russian gas supplies will be a key issue on the agenda of talks, he noted. "We don’t know what can happen in relations between Russia and Ukraine but our entire country could be under threat, this issue is vital for us as the whole production can be stopped," Vucic said, noting that Russian gas was supplied to Serbia through Ukraine and Hungary.
Touching on military and technical cooperation, the Serbian leader congratulated his fellow citizens on the arrival of four Russian Mi-35M helicopters to Serbia ahead of schedule. "Now our helicopter fleet is some 4 or 5 times bigger than just five years ago," he said thanking Russia for delivering the vehicles ahead of schedule. "We view this as a sign of friendship," he stressed.
Vucic also praised a special relationship between the Russian and Serbian people. "Russians are good friends for us, we believe in this friendship. These are brotherly relations, which we should safeguard and develop and understand each other even better."
After his talks with Putin, Vucic plans to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "This is not the way of balancing, this is our own path and strong policy of an intelligent country. We want to cultivate brotherly relations with Russia and we don’t want any ban on this. I’m satisfied how we are doing this, we have friends everywhere," he said, noting that Belgrade would also foster relations with China, while staying on the European track.
Serbian diaspora’s surprise
Earlier, representatives of the Serbian diaspora in Russia told TASS about a surprise prepared in Sochi on occasion of Vucic’s visit. A digital billboard was installed in the city center late on Monday with a welcome address for the two presidents. On Tuesday, the video was broadcast on all billboards in the city. It features Russian and Serbian flags, a message ‘brothers forever’ and a joint photo of the Russian and Serbian leaders. Vucic said he saw several such billboards, saying he was touched by this present.
During his joint press conference with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Belgrade on October 19, Vucic said he would hold talks with Putin in Sochi on December 4. According to the Serbian president, this would be his 17th meeting with the Russian leader.