BELGRADE, October 16. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic on Thursday reiterated Russia’s principled stance on the Kosovo issue.
“You mentioned the Russian stance on the Kosovo issue. Russia has a principled stance, which is based not only on our friendship and proximity, but also on international law and justice,” Putin said.
Nikolic expressed gratitude to Russia for its support to Serbia in this matter, calling this support “precious.”
“Your support in the preservation of territorial integrity and independence of Serbia, especially on the Kosovo issue, is highly precious for us today,” the Serbian president said.
“Serbia also regards Russia as its big ally, and Serbia will not put at risk its moral principles by some negative attitude to Russia. We simply have no choice and we cannot act differently,” Nikolic said.
As Putin arrived at the Serbia Palace building in Belgrade, he walked in front of an honor guard and orchestra that played the national anthems of Russia and the Republic of Serbia.
After the official ceremony, the Russian leader and Nikolic entered the building to hold a round of bilateral talks. Shortly after the negotiations, Putin is due to meet with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.
Putin will be an honorary guest at a military parade in which the famous Russian aerobatics display team Strizhi (Swifts) will take part. The grand military parade, the 24th since 1945, has been moved forward four days to accommodate the Russian president’s schedule.
Belgrade marks the 70th anniversary of its liberation from the German-fascist invaders during a joint operation of the Red Army and the National and Liberation Army of Yugoslavia, during which 4,350 Soviet soldiers were killed and another 14,500 were wounded.
A rally in support of Russia and Serbia was held in downtown Belgrade on Thursday as Russian President Vladimir Putin pays an official visit to the Serbian capital.
Several dozen activists carried posters reading “President Putin, Save Serbia From NATO Occupation” and shouted “Russia” and “Serbia.”
The demonstrators took to the streets with Russian flags, signs of the Kharkiv and Odessa Republics, and the portraits of Putin and also Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia, a monument to whom is to be erected in Belgrade.
People gathered at a memorial cemetery which is the last resting place for Soviet and Yugoslav soldiers, who were killed during the liberation of Belgrade from the German-fascist invaders in 1944.
The event started several minutes after Putin and his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic attended a wreath laying ceremony at the monument to the perished soldiers.
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic has awarded Russian President Vladimir Putin the Order of the Republic of Serbia, 1st Class.
“Dear brother Vladimir, the Serbian people is proud that you carry the highest Serbian order,” Nikolic said in Russian.
Putin thanked his counterpart for the award. “I don’t think I’ve done anything to deserve the award,” he said, adding that he considers it more like a token of respect for Russia and the Russian people.
“I want to assure you that Russia, like it was in former times, will always perceive Serbia as the closest ally, the closest relative,” the Russian leader said, adding that he will do everything possible for bilateral relations to develop progressively and meet the interests of both nations.