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MOSCOW, June 30. /TASS/. Moscow appreciates the fact that Serbia has not joined the European sanctions imposed on Russia, Chairman of Russia’s State Duma (lower house of parliament) Sergei Naryshkin said on Thursday at a meeting with Serbian parliament speaker Maja Gojkovic who takes part in the General Assembly of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) underway in Moscow.
"We attach great importance to deepening multifaceted cooperation with our Serbian partners," Naryshkin said. "We highly appreciate Belgrade’s principled stance on the anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the European Union."
He noted that Moscow is aware of the huge pressure exerted on Belgrade by Washington and Brussels over the issue.
"It is important that Serbia’s political leadership and the people understand that such a stance on the European sanctions, that is, refusal to join these steps, fully conforms with the national interests of this country and its people," Naryshkin said.
Naryshkin said Moscow has never called on Belgrade to choose between Russia and the European Union.
"We have always respected Serbia’s plans regarding the integration with the European Union," he said.
"Russia has never urged your country to choose between Russia and the EU, the way the EU did with regard to Ukraine. The sad result of what is going on in Ukraine is the result of this position of the European Union," Naryshkin added.
"For us, of course, it is important that Serbia’s rapprochement with the European Union, its integration into the European Union does not disrupt and hinder the development of our bilateral relations," he said.
Naryshkin also noted good cooperation between Serbia and Russia on various inter-parliamentary platforms. "In this sense, it is even symbolic that the Russian delegation will hand over to you the powers as the PABSEC president today," he added.
Earlier on Thursday Russia has handed over presidency in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) to Serbia.
"Russia’s PABSEC presidency ends today. In accordance with the principle of rotation, the presidency is transferred to the Serbian parliament," Naryshkin said.
According to the approved calendar, the 48th plenary session of the PABSEC General Assembly will be held in Belgrade from November 29 to December 1, he added.