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Serbia to remain Russia’s ally — top diplomat

June 01, 14:03 UTC+3 ST.PETERSBURG

Serbia is looking to enhance cooperation with Russia in the energy and trade areas

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© Oksana Toskic/TASS

ST.PETERSBURG, June 1. /TASS/. Serbia will never slap sanctions on Russia and will remain militarily neutral, Foreign Minister and Acting Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF-2017).

"Russia and Serbia are traditional friends and allies. We will continue moving in the same direction," Dacic said.

"Serbia will never impose sanctions against Russia, this is not only political but a moral issue for us," Dacic stressed. "We will remain friends forever," he added. "Serbia won’t change its policy of military neutrality," the foreign minister said.

The top diplomat went on to say that Serbia’s decision not to back the anti-Russia sanctions is a moral choice, and Belgrade will uphold this position.

"Serbia is one of a few, or even the only, European country that did not join the sanctions against Russia," Dacic said. "This is neither a political, nor an economic issue for us, but a moral one. We have unique relations and we will uphold this position in the future."

 Serbia hopes to become a member of the European Union but it has no intention to conduct an anti-Russian policy, he added. 

"Serbia is a sovereign state and it cares for the interests of its people. We are not as developed as Norway or Switzerland, which do not need EU membership. It is in our interests to become part of the European Union for the sake of giving our people a better life."

"On the other hand, we will not let any political matters intervene with our strategic interests, such as the status of the autonomous territory of Kosovo and Metohija," Dacic said.

Belgrade is determined to stick to a "policy of military neutrality."

"We wish to become a member of the European Union without turning our back on Russia or conducting an anti-Russian policy. We will never do that. This question is not a political one to us. It is a matter of morality."

About interaction with the Eurasian Economic Union’s member-states Dacic said that Serbia hoped to better political and economic relations with the EAEU members - Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

The country is looking to enhance cooperation with Russia in the energy and trade areas, he went on. 

"Serbia wants to step up cooperation with Russia in the energy industry, to boost trade as well as to increase the list of goods, and finalize the implementation of current and launch new infrastructure projects," he said.

Serbia plans to bring the trade turnover with Russia to $4 bln per annum.

"I think we have a huge and untapped potential and we need to expand economic ties boosting the trade turnover," he said.

According to Dacic, last year’s trade turnover between the countries amounted to around $2.3 bln. "Our target is to reach $4 bln," he added.

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