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Serbia PM hopes to discuss economic ties with Putin

October 15, 2014, 8:26 UTC+3 BELGRADE
Serbia seeks to attract Russian investment, first of all in the agricultural processing sector, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic says
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Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic

© EPA/KOCA SULEJMANOVIC

BELGRADE, October 15. /TASS/. Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic hopes to discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin concrete issues of economic cooperation at their forthcoming meeting in the Serbian capital. The Serbian prime minister gave an exclusive interview to TASS First Deputy Director-General Mikhail Gusman on the eve of the Russian leader’s visit to Serbia’s capital Belgrade.

Vucic expects that “important guests from the West and the East, primarily Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin” will come to attend celebrations on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Belgrade’s liberation from the Nazis, Vucic said.

“I believe that Vladimir Vladimirovich (Putin) appreciated at our previous meeting that we prefer concrete issues at talks,” the prime minister said. “I hope that this time we will discuss a sufficient number of concrete issues. This is primarily economic cooperation, further development of our relations in energy and agriculture,” Vucic added.

Belgrade’s liberation became possible thanks to “massive support by the Red Army,” Vucic said. “This event is one of our most remarkable historic victories,” he said. “I am proud of the fact that we will celebrate this anniversary in the special way this year. We will celebrate the final victory over fascism in Serbia. We expect these anti-fascist traditions of Serbian people to develop. We want to show that we are grateful to our ancestors who liberated us from fascism. In the future, we should not allow such threat to our victory to arise," the prime minister stressed.

Serbia to attract Russian investment

Serbia seeks to attract Russian investment, first of all in the agricultural processing sector, Vucic said. “I have already said that Russia is a big market, which needs a lot of fruit, vegetables and meat,” the prime minister emphasized.

“We want to attract Russian investors, in the first place in the sector of processing these products, to see small plants set up here to process raw materials and export products not only to Russia, but also to countries of the European Union, the Eurasian Union and Turkey,” he said. “This is what Serbia offers,” he added.

Aleksandar Vucic said official privatization offers have been sent to 502 Serbian enterprises. “We expect participation of Russian investors in privatization of certain enterprises,” he added.

“Russia is interested in the highest quality products that meet the highest standards. We want to attract the best investors,” the prime minister said.

Energy cooperation and South Stream construction

Energy is among the most promising trends in Russian-Serbian cooperation, Vucic said. “We have many issues which should be resolved in the energy industry,” Vucic said. “You are aware that (Russian energy giant) Gazprom is a majority owner of Serbian energy major Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS). We should consider the future of our relations on this issue, so that we will settle everything as partners,” he added.

“We should discuss how and where we proceed in the South Stream issue,” the premier noted. "We have come to terms quickly and easily with Russia," he said. “But not everything depends on Serbia,” Vucic added. “South Stream cannot begin on the border between Serbia and Bulgaria and end on the border between Serbia and Hungary. This should pass through Bulgaria, Hungary, Austria and all other countries. As for Serbia, we have done our part, all the rest depends from others,” Vucic stressed.

The prime minister noted that he found the treaty on building the gas pipeline “good for Serbia.”

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