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Serbia's PM says she respects decades-old Serbian-Russian ties, friendship

July 05, 21:31 UTC+3 BELGRADE

Ana Brnabic stated her position during a conversation with Russian Ambassador Alexander Chepurin

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BELGRADE, July 5. /TASS/. Serbia's Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said on Wednesday she respects the decades-old Serbian-Russian ties and believes that Moscow is an important partner for Belgrade.

She stated her position during a conversation with Russian Ambassador Alexander Chepurin, the press service of the cabinet of ministers said.

"Prime Minister Ana Brnabic told Alexander Chepurin Russia was an important partner for Serbia," the press service said. "She stressed her respect for the long-standing ties and friendship with Russia and expressed the hope cooperation with Moscow in the field of research would expand at the inter-university level."

Chepurin stressed Russia's interest in Serbia's continuing development and the willingness to invest in Serbian economy. He also conveyed congratulations from Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on the occasion of Brnabic's appointment to the office of the prime minister.

Prior to the meeting with Chepurin, Brnabic received US Ambassador Kyle Scot, who told her Serbia had full support on the part of the US in its drive towards the EU membership and readiness to assist it in every possible way.

Scott also said he had trust in Brnabic's future work in the capacity of prime minister.

On Tuesday, Brnabic told Bloomberg Serbia would give preference to the EU if it had to tackle a choice between ties with Russia and the prospects for EU membership.

"The EU is where we’re going, that’s clear," she said.

"We do have emotional ties with Russia because of tradition, culture and religion," Brnabic went on. "There are many people in Serbia who completely perceive Russia as our big brother, our protector.’’

She indicated however that "(…) our strategic path is the EU.’’

When the reporter asked Brnabic, a UK-trained pro-Western politician, if Serbia would continue rejecting sanctions against Russia in the future, too, she said she could not promise it.

Following this statement, which is rather scandalous for Serbia, Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic had to come up with a statement, in which he said Serbia was not going to change its foreign policy and would not let anyone put itself in the face ‘either Russia or the EU’ choice.

"We have managed over the past five years to withstand all the pressures we were subjected to and to stay on the European track without spoiling relations the traditional friends, Russia and China in the first place," Dacic’s statement said. "The essence of a wise policy consists in not letting others put us in front of the choice between either Russia or the EU."

"It is clear we’re moving down the European path but our relations with Russia, whose support has crucial significance for Serbia’s territorial integrity, are also clear," he said.

In her earlier statements, she denied a possibility of anti-Russian sanctions and spoke out for friendly relations with Russia.

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