BELGRADE, September 24 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Minister of Emergency Situations Vladimir Puchkov on Tuesday will visit the Serbian city of Nis, where the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian Centre is located. Russian Ambassador in Belgrade Alexander Chepurin said that Puchkov will discuss with Serbian Prime Minister and Interior Minister Ivica Dacic the results of the development of the centre, which had been officially launched in April 2012.
“In particular, it is planned to discuss plans for its registration as an international organization that will make a significant contribution to the emergency response operations in Serbia and neighboring countries,” the Russian ambassador said.
Chepurin denied some Western media reports alleging that the centre is “a camouflaged Russian military base.” “That’s ridiculous,” said the ambassador, noting that the purpose of the centre is quite obvious to all. “Its task is to fight wildfires, organize search and rescue operations, clearing of minefields, delivery of humanitarian aid and rescue training in the region,” he stressed.
According to Chepurin, in the near future, the centre would become an important factor in cooperation between Russia and Serbia, as well as other countries in the Balkan region in fighting humanitarian crises. The Russian government has already invested in its development more than $2 million, and by 2016 will provide another $41 million.
The ambassador said that the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations’ staff members, working in Serbia, during the Humanitarian Centre’s operation have extinguished forest fires on thousands of hectares, cleared 3.7 million square meters of land, destroying 12.3 thousand explosive devices left in the ground after the NATO bombing in 1999. Humanitarian aid for Kosovo Serbs was also delivered through the centre in 2011.
During the visit, Puchkov and Dacic are planned to make a flight on Russia’s amphibious aircraft Be-200, based in Nis, which will demonstrate the technique of fighting wildfires.