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BELGRADE, October 16 /TASS/. Talks with Serbian leadership have confirmed the two countries determination to develop multifaceted bilateral ties, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday after meeting Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.
“The main outcome is that we confirmed mutual intention to develop multi-faceted Russian-Serbian cooperation. We noted that our relations were developing quite well, even very well so to speak, against the background of problems facing global economy,” Putin said.
Issues of Russian-Serbian cooperation in the areas of petrochemicals and debts in the energy sector were in the focus of discussion between Russian and Serbian Presidents Vladimir Putin and Tomislav Nikolic in Belgrade on Thursday.
“Today, we will have a possibility to mention and to try to solve those problems we have created in the energy sector, to look at how we can settle the problem of debts and look at how Russia can help us, especially in the area of petrochemicals,” Nikolic said at a meeting with Putin. He noted that in the first six months of the current year, mutual trade had increased considerably.
The energy sector is one of areas of cooperation between Russia and Serbia. Serbia has some debts, including to Russia’s gas giant Gazprom. In June, an informed source told TASS that Serbia’s past-due debt for Russian gas had exceeded 180 million US dollars. The source said that the issue of outstanding debts had been negotiated at a ministerial level in summer. On Wednesday, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told journalists that his country could repay debts to Gazprom by giving it a share in the company Petrohemija.
Following talks in Belgrade Russia and Serbia signed a memorandum of understanding in the sphere of energy effectiveness, energy saving and renewable sources of power. The chief of the Russian Energy Ministry’s energy agency, Anatoly Tikhonov, and Serbia’s Minister of Mining and Energy, Alexander Antic, put their signatures to the document.
Besides, Russian Federal Customs Service Andrey Belyaninov and Serbian Customs Administration Director Milos Tomic signed a protocol on exchanges of data characterising the customs value of goods being moved between the two countries.
Russia and Serbia have signed an inter-governmental agreement on military-technical co-operation upon results of the talks which Russian President Vladimir Putin had in the Serbian capital on Thursday.
The accord was signed by Director of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Alexander Fomin and Serbian Defense Minister Bratislav Gasic.
Meanwhile, the two countries have concluded an inter-governmental agreement on mutual protection of classified information. This document was signed by Head of the service of operational information and international relations of the Russian Federal Security Service Sergey Beseda and Director of the Office of the Serbian government’s Council on National Security and Classified Information Protection Goran Matic.
Head of the Russian Federal Migration Service Konstantin Romodanovsky and Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic have signed an inter-governmental accord on readmission and an executive protocol on procedure of fulfilling this deal.
Over the next three years, the aggregate volume of investment between Russia and Serbia may grow to $10 billion, Russian President Vladimir Putin said after talks with Serbia’s leadership.
“I believe that over the next three years, the overall volume of investment will reach 6 or even up to 10 billion dollars,” Putin said.
“The talk is not only about state but private investment,” he explained. “Investment here is mutually beneficial, and it is not only energy but also mechanical engineering and development of infrastructure.”
In connection with that, the Russian president recalled that “Russia provided a $800 million loan to the Serbian side for development of a railroad system.”
“The first part, worth $104-105 million, is nearing implementation. And we are ready to continue the work,” Putin said.
Director General of Russian Railways International Sergey Pavlov and Goran Maksic, Director of Infrastructure Directorate at Serbian Railways, signed a treaty on reconstruction of three sections of Trans-European Corridor X.
Besides, Pavlov and Director of the Directorate for Transport at Serbian Railways, Negoslav Teofilovic, signed an agreement on the supply of 27 diesel suburban trains.
Corridor X is a major freight corridor connecting the Western Balkan countries.
Vladimir Putin said that Serbia could increase its annual agricultural exports to Russia from $150 million to $500 million. “If we implement the agreements which we reached during today’s talks, these /agricultural/ exports may reach 500 million dollars in a relatively short period of time,” Putin told journalists after the Russian-Serbian negotiations.
The president said that Serbia’s agricultural exports to Russia had already increased to $130-150 million.
“Free niches have appeared (in the Russian market) after Russia imposed restrictions on agricultural imports from countries that either joined or initiated sanctions against Russia. In short, misfortunes tell us what fortune is,” Putin told journalists smilingly.
“I believe it’s a chance for producers in countries that want to develop relations with Russia,” the Russian president said.
He noted significant growth of Russian investments in Serbian economy that had already reached 3 billion dollars.
“Naftna Industrija Srbije (NIS), the flagship of our cooperation, is gathering pace. The Russian side has invested $2 billion and is ready to invest another billion dollars in this company,” Putin said, noting that NIS has turned from a loss-making enterprise into Serbia’s major taxpayer providing 14% of Serbian budget revenues.
Putin is visiting Belgrade as part of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Serb capital’s liberation from fascist occupiers.