MOSCOW, September 11 (Itar-Tass) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday will meet in Sochi with Serbia’s President Tomislav Nikolic who will pay a working visit to Russia. The Kremlin press service reported that “special attention will be paid to the issues of trade and economic cooperation” and “promising new projects that are being worked out in the energy, transport, infrastructure, credit and finance spheres.” It is noteworthy that this is a second meeting between Putin and Nikolic this year.
The sides have developed the closest cooperation in the energy sector where the key role is played by Russia’s Gazprom Neft, which holds a 51 percent stake in Petroleum Industry of Serbia – NIS (Naftna Industrija Srbije) company, and LUKOIL. Serbia also participates in the South Stream project in which the agreements on the preparation for the construction of the Serbian section are being fulfilled on schedule.
The Kremlin noted that “Russian businesses are actively involved in the development of Serbian non-ferrous metallurgy, engineering, tourism, banking enterprises, and promising new projects in the energy, transport, infrastructure, credit and finance spheres are being worked out.”
According to the Russian side, the bilateral trade volume last year increased by 42 percent, compared with 2010 and amounted to more than 2 billion US dollars, the sides are implementing a number of mutually beneficial investment projects.
A unique project – the deployment in the city of Nis of a Russian-Serbian humanitarian centre, which is designed to deal with such humanitarian issues as disaster management and forest fires has been implemented through the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry (EMERCOM). The humanitarian centre has already proved its relevance, and its capabilities have been used not only in Serbia, but also in neighbouring countries.
The Russian Emergencies Ministry also provides assistance to the Serbian partners in demining the country. Since the beginning of the year, more than 600 thousand square metres in Serbia have been cleared of explosives with the participation of Russian experts.
Cultural-humanitarian and spiritual ties occupy a special place in Russian-Serbian relations. Thanks to Russian funding in the amount of 2 million US dollars through UNESCO the restoration of cultural and religious heritage monuments in Kosovo and Metohija that were damaged by the Kosovo- Albanian extremists is carried out. At the request of the Serbian side Russia takes part in the interior decoration design of the Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sava in Belgrade.
In the international arena, Russia and Serbia have similar or identical positions on most key issues. “One of the priority issues of the joint work is European security with an emphasis on the Balkan region,” the Kremlin noted. “In particular, the sides develop constructive cooperation on the Kosovo issue."