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MOSCOW, February 03. /ITAR-TASS/. Relations between Russia and Serbia should not be strained by the force of external factors, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the Serbian Politika daily on Monday.
“It is important for Russia that Belgrade’s rapprochement with the European Union and the start of official negotiations over Serbia’s accession to the EU will not damage our partnership in the implementation of large-scale economic and infrastructure projects, including those in the energy sphere,” he said. “We are convinced that our Serbian friends have the same understanding.”
“Relations between our two states cannot only be described as very good.” Lavrov said. “They have reached the level of strategic partnership, encompassing all spheres of interaction - politics, trade, economy, culture, science and education - and serving the interests of our people.”
“Russia and Serbia are closely linked through deep feelings of friendship, mutual understanding and confidence alongside centuries-old traditions of our nations’ affinity and remembrance of brotherhood in arms, mainly in the fight against fascism during World War II,” Lavrov said.
“This provides a strong foundation for the development of our bilateral cooperation and for greater interaction on a wide range of current issues of the international agenda.”
At the same time, “the high level of the links that we have reached does not fully correspond to the needs and possibilities of the two countries”, the minister added.
“There is significant potential in Russian-Serbian relations in the fields of trade and economy,” Lavrov said, citing as successful investment cooperation the entry of a Russian investor into Serbian NIS oil company capital. This had made it possible for the oil company not only to stop losing money but also to generate most of the money for the Serbian budget.
Lavrov said Moscow hoped that “Russian investors will be offered the most favorable terms in the future”.
“The flow of Russian capital and major credit agreements contribute to Serbia’s economic development and improve the living standards of Serbian citizens,” he added.