BELGRADE, March 30. /TASS/. China has provided much more assistance to Serbia in countering the coronavirus pandemic than the European Union even though Belgrade is moving towards EU integration, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said in an interview with TV Prva on Sunday.
"If you are asking who helped us most, it was China and not Europe. We expect greater assistance from Europe. We are on the European path but we are not either deaf or blind, we will protect Serbian interests and cooperate with China, Russia, the United States and everyone because this is where Serbia’s interests are," he noted, stressing that Serbia had great expectations for Europe, while now Serbs rely more on themselves now.
Answering the question on Russia’s aid, Vucic said, "We expect help from Russia as well, but Russia, our sincere friend, also has its own problems now."
On Thursday, Serbia’s government asked Russia’s assistance in fighting against the novel coronavirus. Belgrade asked for concrete assistance under the intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in emergency and humanitarian response. Commenting on Belgrade’s request, Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov pledged that "a request from such an important, allied, brotherly country as Serbia will not stay unanswered."
Serbia currently has 741 cases of coronavirus, while 13 people died and 55 are in ICU and have to rely on ventilators. Earlier, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced full shut down of borders. A state of emergency and a curfew were introduced in the country for 90 days. General elections were called off, while intercity busses and trains were cancelled.
In late December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in more than 160 countries, including Russia.
The WHO on March 11 declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. As of now, more than 710,000 people have been infected around the world and over 33,000 have died.