MOSCOW, May 15. /TASS/. Moscow hopes to strengthen energy dialogue with Serbia, including the sphere of Russian gas supplies, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with the Serbian Politika newspaper published on the ministry’s website on Friday.
"We are satisfied by the development of the Russian-Serbian trade and economic ties," Lavrov said. "The trade turnover is growing and its structure is being improved," he said.
Russia and Serbia have been successfully cooperating in the modernization of the Petroleum Industry of Serbia oil and gas company with the leading role of Russia’s oil producer Gazprom Neft and also the reconstruction of Serbia’s rail infrastructure by the Russian Railways company, he said.
"Unfortunately, we failed to implement plans on the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline’s leg on Serbia’s territory due to the unconstructive stance of Brussels that has blocked this project," Lavrov said.
"At the same time, we expect that our energy dialogue will be consistently expanded, including the sphere of Russian gas supplies," the foreign minister told the newspaper.
Lavrov travels to Serbia on Friday to meet President Tomislav Nicolic, Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, and First Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic.
Lavrov noted that trade and investment cooperation between Russia and Serbia should not be dependent on external factors, including the process of Belgrade’s rapprochement with the European Union.
Lavrov voiced respect for "the position of the Serbian friends who decided to be guided by their national interests and refused to join the unilateral illegitimate restrictions imposed by the European Union."
"Today Serbia is among Russia’s major partners in southeastern Europe," Russia’s top diplomat said. "Negotiations on new Russian investments in the Serbian economy are well under way. We hope that we will soon be able to reach agreements on mutually advantageous cooperation models and large-scale projects, which will contribute to the economic development of Serbia, to raising citizens’ living standards and improving their quality of life."
Lavrov expressed hope that "Russian investors would continue to be granted favorable conditions for doing business." "Our time-tested trade and investment cooperation must not depend on the influence of external factors, including the process of Belgrade’s rapprochement with the European Union," he said. "We hope that our Serbian partners will be guided by similar logic."