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Serbia, Russia focus on Balkans on sidelines of UN General Assembly

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic | Youtube snapshot

On the sidelines of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, the situation in the Balkans was in focus of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

Vucic spoke in favor of further development of relations between the two countries at all levels. "Russia is Serbia’s true friend. We are making no secret of it. I think we will be able to improve cooperation at various levels, including in the economic sphere which has been seeing improvement year after year," the Serbian president noted.

He also expressed gratitude to Moscow for its support to Belgrade in various international formats and organizations. "Your country has always defended Serbia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Our people value it," he stressed.

 Serbia has no plans to join NATO and wants to keep military neutrality, Vucic said.

"There have been various rumors, including in the Russian mass media… I would like to reassure you that Serbia has no plans to join either NATO or any other military organizations," Vucic stressed. "We keep our military neutrality."

"This is our policy, it stays and will stay unchanged," he added.

For his part, Lavrov said “We hail any opportunity to hear your opinion about the developments in the regions, to coordinate our further steps on matters of concern for us and in the interests of stability in the Balkans and development of the countries of the region in conformity with the will of their peoples.”

"The sides exchanged view on the current situation in the Balkans," the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "They noted that they have similar approaches on a number of key issues of the regional and international agenda."

According to the ministry, "The sides agreed that bilateral cooperation is at a high level and political contacts are developing dynamically. They stressed mutual interest in the implementation of joint investment projects.”

It further added that "The two sides reassured commitment to continue close coordination of steps on the Kosovo problem."