Moscow’s Reassurance to Serbia on South Stream

Written by | Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated the position that his country “respects and supports” the European integration of Serbia, a candidate for EU membership, while issuing another warning against new dividing lines in Europe. During his visit to Belgrade on 16 June, Mr. Lavrov also pleaded for the Gazprom-favored South Stream gas pipeline to be completed. Expressing the hopes that Serbia would not sever its traditionally close ties with Russia, the Russian Foreign Minister then stated that Moscow has “respect for the negotiations which Serbia is conducting in connection with association with the EU”, but that it was “absolutely unacceptable that new lines of separation are created in Europe.”
Serbian President Tomislav Nikoli? told the Russian foreign minister that Serbia would not want to ojeopardize good relations with Russia, while Prime Minister Vu?i? stressed at a separate meeting with Lavrov that “the goal of Serbia is to become a member of the EU, but keep good relations with Russia at the same time”. The Serbian officials thanked for Moscow’s support on the issue of Kosovo, while expressing the view that in the absence of support from Russia, “Serbia would nowadays be in a situation of almost complete defeat regarding Kosovo.” Russia and Serbia, as well as EU members Greece, Romania, Cyprus, Slovakia and Spain, do not recognize Kosovo, a former Serbian province, as an independent state.
On the issue of the South Stream gas pipeline, Mr. Lavrov said that Russia plans to go ahead with its construction as planned, despite the suspension of work in Bulgaria, while stating that he has “no doubt that this stoppage is temporary. South Stream is a unique systemic solution for supplying Southeast Europe with gas.” Serbian leaders, on their part, assured the Russian Foreign Minister that his country is one of Serbia’s most important political partners besides Germany and Italy, and that all economic projects under way will be continued. To that end, Da?i? stated that “It is the interest of Serbia for these economic projects to continue. Our national and state interest is that the South Stream is built, that the Serbian oil Industry is the best company in the region.” Earlier, it was announced that the construction of the Serbian segment of the South Stream gas pipeline could start in July 2014.

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