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Belarusian, Serbian presidents to discuss closer trade and economic cooperation

June 12, 2014, 2:58 UTC+3 MINSK

The Belarusian president will also meet with Patriarch Irinej of Serbia

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MINSK, June 12 /ITAR-TASS/. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will hold talks with his Serbian counterpart Tomoslav Nikolic on Thursday within the framework of his official visit to Serbia.

“On July 12, Alexander Lukashenko will have tete-a-tete talks with his counterpart Tomslav Nikolic, and later the talks will be continues in an extended format,” the press service of the Belarusian president reported.

The top-priority area in the Belarusian-Serbian relations is further development of closer trade and economic cooperation, which has been on the rise after the signing of the bilateral free trade agreement in 2009.

The Belarusian president will also meet with Patriarch Irinej of Serbia. A Belarusian-Serbian business forum will be held during Lukashenko’s visit.

Ahead of his visit to Serbia, the Belarusian president said in an interview with Serbian media that the two countries had a task of establishing a trade and economic basis for more dynamic development of bilateral cooperation. “We should outline three or four good areas of cooperation, and only in the sphere of trade - it would be too simple,” he said. “Having signed concrete contracts in these areas, we will build our relations. Today, it is three or four areas, tomorrow there will be five or six, and so on.”

“I think that Serbia should move eastwards more boldly. I understand your concerns, I understand your aspirations for the European Union membership - it may take place tomorrow. But people want to live normally today,” he said, adding that Serbia “should find a reasonable component” in its relations with both the West and the East. “Can it be harmful for the West if Serbia has trade relations with Belarus and Russia, if we have traditionally normal friendly relations? I hope the European Union understands that we have big traditions, that our peoples want cooperation, including trade and economic cooperation,” he stressed.

At the same time, the Belarusian leader said he was aware that Serbia was practically living in the European Union. “You are surrounded by the European community. There is nothing wring if you build normal relations with them that wouldn’t be harmful for us, Russia, Ukraine and other states,” he said.

In 2013, trade turnover between Belarus and Serbia nearly reached 200 million U.S. dollars.

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