Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov is currently on an official visit to Serbia where he has been received by top Serbian officials, including the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.
Serbia will retain close ties with Russia even as it works toward European Union membership, and it won’t join the bloc’s sanctions on Moscow, President Aleksandar Vucic said in Belgrade after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister.
Russia values Serbia’s commitment to remain militarily neutral, Lavrov said at the same conference in Belgrade. “We are convinced that such a commitment is the most important for the stability in the Balkans and the European continent as a whole,” he said. “Also, the countries of the region must not be forced to make false choice between the West and the East, that is Russia.”
Russia is Serbia’s fourth biggest export market after Germany, Italy and Bosnia Herzegovina. But its 881.3 million euros ($1.1 billion) in imports are dwarfed by the almost 10 billion euros in goods that Serbs sell to the EU.
The two countries will continue to bolster political, trade and military ties even as global challenges persist, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and Lavrov wrote in a joint opinion piece published in Belgrade newspaper Politika Tuesday.
“Belgrade and Moscow oppose the damaging practice of ‘you are either with us or against us,’ which has led to an increase in distrust and instability in Europe,” they wrote.
While in Serbia, the Russian minister will also unveil a mosaic installed in the dome of St. Sava’s Temple, the work of Moscow-based artist Nikolai Mukhin.
The 4-million euro project was financed by Russia’s energy giant Gazprom. St. Sava’s Temple is the largest Orthodox church in Serbia and in Europe.
Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that during his visit, Lavrov would meet with President Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and his Serbian counterpart, Ivica Dacic.
The visit marks the 180th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between Serbia and Russia.
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