Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Belgrade and Moscow have established a strategic partnership which includes a confidential dialogue.
He told a news conference with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic that the consistent development of the strategic partnership is being confirmed with this week’s inter-governmental committee meeting which he said would take concrete steps to promote cooperation. “I want to stress the strategic character of our relations. I passed on the warm greetings and best wishes from President Vladimir Putin, We are committed to continuing the dialogue at the highest level and have considered possible contacts between the two presidents and will discuss that meeting,” he said.
Lavrov said that Russia advocates a solution for Kosovo based on UN Security Council resolution 1244 which would be reached in a direct dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina with the approval of the UN Security Council. “We will accept any solution which suits the Serbian people. The European Union has special responsibility for the dialogue because it was empowered by the UN Security Council,” he said and added that all agreements reached earlier have to be implemented.
Replying to a question about Russia’s alleged interference in the Western Balkans, Lavrov said that Moscow’s relations with Serbia and other countries in the region are based on mutual benefits and a balance of interest. “We have known for some time that the EU says it has the right to this region and that no one else has anything to do here… but it is implementing a policy which is far from constructive,” he said. “Accusations that Russia is allegedly violating international law in the Western Balkans are groundless,” he said.
Speaking after the meeting with Lavrov, Vucic expressed hope that he would meet with Putin by the end of the year. He said that Lavrov gave him unspecified important advice in what he said was the most open and honest meeting and that he thanked him for Moscow’s support for Serbia’s territorial integrity. According to Vucic, they discussed the Petrohemija plant in the town of Pancevo and the energy crisis in Europe. “The introduction of taxes on power produced from non-renewable sources was done hastily,” he said adding that the reasons were political and not economic with no one willing to admit to a mistake.
Vucic rejected claims that Moscow was pressuring Belgrade over the energy industry, claiming that Serbia was pressuring Russia to get the best possible price for natural gas. “I have Lavrov’s promise that he will ask Putin to grant Serbia the best prices,” he said.