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Putin, Serbian PM to hold talks on economic ties, Balkans’ stability

March 27, 2017, 1:14 UTC+3 BELGRADE

The two sides will pay attention to the situation in the Balkans

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BELGRADE, March 27. /TASS/. Ways of deepening economic cooperation and cooperation in machine building will top the agenda of a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. According to the press service of the Serbian Cabinet, Vucic also plans to discuss ways of intensifying cooperation between Serbia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).

Besides, the two sides will pay attention to the situation in the Balkans where the situation tends to aggravate recently.

Economic cooperation

Despite the traditional ties between the two countries, Russia currently ranks third among Serbia’s trading partners with a modest figure of just 7% of the total trade turnover. Russia exports mainly oil and gas receiving in return fruits and vegetables. According to the 2016 data, the trade turnover between the two countries amounted to €2.3 bln decreasing in comparison with the similar period in the past due to a decline in oil process and the ruble exchange rate.

The upcoming meeting pursues the goal of searching for new ways of economic cooperation. Vucic said ahead of his visit to Moscow that joint machine building ventures and partnership in pharmaceuticals will help boost cooperation. "I think I will discuss with Putin the arrival of a company manufacturing various types of machines to Serbia, which would produce 51% of the components in our country and then sell them to the European and Turkish markets without customs fees," the premier said. He pointed to excellent political relations between the two countries, adding that " the Russian president is mainly focusing on economic issues and has already come up with several ideas, including on boosting joint pharmaceutical cooperation."

Vucic also put forward a proposal to deepen Serbia’s relations not only with Russia but also with the EAEU as a whole. The Serbia-EAEU summit due to be held in Belgrade in the summer or autumn of this year is to contribute as much as possible to the implementation of this initiative.

Situation in the Balkans

The two sides are expected to synchronize watches on international issues, discuss pan-European problems and raise the issue of the situation in the Balkan region, which has been dubbed "Europe’s powder keg." In recent months, there has been a sharp increase in tensions there - from Macedonia and Romania to Bosnia and Herzebovina. The situation in Montenegro is exacerbated by its own government, which is seeking NATO membership contrary to the will of the people. The unrecognized republic of Kosovo, where the situation escalated again in January is no exception. The Serbian authorities have recognized that the region is on the brink of a full-scale war.

Military-technical cooperation

On the issues due to be discussed at the upcoming meeting will be military-technical cooperation, witness the fact that Serbian Defense Minister, Zoran Djordjevic, was included in that country’s delegation. "We will hold private talks and then will continue work with the delegations. It is planned to discuss partnership in the defense industry, military-technical cooperation, culture and tourism," Vucic said.

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