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Putin congratulates Nicolic on election as Serbian president

May 26, 2012, 18:33 UTC+3

President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Tomislav Nicolic on his election as Serbia’s president

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MOSCOW, May 26 (Itar-Tass) — President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Tomislav Nicolic on his election as Serbia’s president.

“I want to wish you that all tasks set in your programme will be successfully fulfilled,” Putin said in his meeting with Nicolic on Saturday.

Putin noted that the new Serbian government would have many tasks and that they were not easy. The Russian president said he is hopeful that cooperation between Russia and Serbia would help implement the purposes, which had been determined by both countries.

The meeting focused on pressing international issues. Speaking about the status of Kosovo, Putin said, “You know our position. We believe that it is necessary to comply with the U.N. decision, in particular Resolution 1244.”

On economic cooperation, Putin said relations between both countries developed positively. Last year trade turnover increased by 1.5 times. Russia’s investments in the Serbian economy reached 1.400 billion U.S. dollars. “This is a good figure and we can do more,” the Russian head of state said.

Putin said Russia considered Serbia its traditional partner. “Serbs are our spiritual friends. This is the base of our relations in the forthcoming years,” the Russian president said.

For his part, the Serbian president-elect thanked Russia for support, especially “for sovereignty of Serbia, Kosovo and Metojia”. “I’m convinced that cooperation between Serbia and Russia will develop very quickly. I assure you that Russia is Serbia’s partner on the Balkans,” Nicolic stressed.

He told Putin during the pre-election campaign he said openly that he don’t doubt to win the presidential elections. “I couldn’t win the elections only if Vladimir Putin was my opponent,” the Serbian president said joking.

He recalled that Putin was very popular in Serbia. According to Nicolic, Serbia is moving towards rapprochement with the EU. However, Nicolic said he had never heard the recognition of the independence of Kosovo and Metojia was the necessary condition for this. “We couldn’t do this even if we had to suspend all talks,” the Serbian president-elect stressed, adding, “Serbia will not join NATO.”

In conclusion Putin addressed Nicolic with “an unusual request”. The Russian president said he knew that Serbian former president Boris Tadic was Nicolic’s political opponent. But he asked Nicolic to thank Tadic for the joint work and wish him every success.

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