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Putin, Vucic hash over Russia-Serbia cooperation

The Serbian prsident underlined that his country believes that Putin’s visit was historical and of utmost importance for the development of Russia-Serbia relations

BEIJING, April 26. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic expressed his intention to discuss both bilateral and regional issues.

"I welcome the opportunity to meet with you on the sidelines of today’s event, talk about our bilateral relations and the situation in the region," Putin said in the beginning of the meeting with Vucic in the framework of the Belt and Road Forum.

The Russian leader recalled his January visit to Belgrade pointing out that it stimulated the bilateral ties. Putin also emphasized that by the end of 2018 the trade volume had increased by 2%. "Our relations are developing in such a sensitive area as military-technical and military cooperation," he said.

Vucic, in turn, underlined that his country believes that Putin’s visit was historical and of utmost importance for the development of Russia-Serbia relations. "This visit was a visit from the soul as it touched souls of all Serbians," he said.

He also thanked Putin for the support that Russia gives to Serbia, in particular, in the issue of preserving its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

The Serbian President wished Putin a "happy and blessed Easter and prosperity and luck for the brotherly Russian nation."

Leaders discuss TurkStream

The Russian and Serbian Presidents discussed the construction of the TurkStream gas pipeline, the Serbian Blic newspaper reported on Friday citing a source close to the talks. "Putin and Vucic talked about the energy cooperation and the pipeline. The Serbian President showed his Russian counterpart the first pictures from the construction site of the pipeline through Serbia. They spoke about the military-technical cooperation and the works that the Russian Railways company is doing on the Stara Pazova - Novi Sad railway section," the newspaper quotes its source as saying.

Earlier, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic announced that Serbian had begun the construction of the Serbian part of the TurkStream line ahead of the completion of works on the Bulgarian section. On March 5, the Serbian Energy Agency greenlighted the construction works, which were set to begin in April. The joint venture of the Russian energy giant Gazprom and Srbijagas, Gastrans d.o.o. Novi Sad, will administer the construction of the pipeline running from the Bulgarian border to the Hungary.

Earlier, General Manager of Srbijagas Dusan Bajatovic pointed out that the project is scheduled to be completed by December 15. The Serbian section of TurkStream will begin supplying natural gas before the end of April 2020.

Key issue

The TurkStream pipeline extension to Serbia was one of the key issues discussed at the negotiations between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vucic on January 17. The Russian leader pointed out that Moscow is ready for such a project and can invest around $1.4 billion to develop the Serbian infrastructure for the construction of the pipeline through the country.

The Serbian section of TurkStream is intended to begin near the town of Zajecar near the Bulgarian border and cross the border with Hungary near the town of Horgos. The pipeline’s input capacity is expected to be around 13.88 mln cubic meters of gas per day, while the output capacity - around 10 mln cubic meters.

TurkStream is a gas pipeline that is being constructed under the Black Sea to the European part of Turkey and further on to the border with Greece, bypassing Ukraine. The first line is intended for the Turkish market, the second branch is going to supply the countries of Southern and Southeastern Europe. Gazprom considers Greece, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary as potential markets.