Preparations for Medvedev’s Belgrade visit underway

Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić is in Moscow making final preparations for Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s Belgrade visit.

Jeremić, who is on a working visit, will be meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and officials of Medvedev’s administration.

Before heading for Moscow, Jeremić said that Belgrade officials expect that Medvedev’s visit will confirm the united political front of the two countries, and the opening up of new possibilities for cooperation.

In an interview for Moscow daily Kommersant ahead of his trip to Russia, Jeremić said that the fight for the preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity is the most important priority of the Serbian government, adding that Serbia had opted for a diplomatic path and that it has enormous support of Russia, mainly within the UN Security Council.

“We expect that this support will continue to be as strong and that Moscow will have the most active part in our efforts to prevent unilateral recognitions of the declaration of independence by Kosovo,” the minister stated, “expressing his gratitude for Russia’s efforts in that area”, Tanjug reports.

Jeremić also reminded that this will be the first visit of a Russian president to Serbia and that is why Serbia experiences the event as historic.

“The ties between the Russian and Serbian peoples over the past numerous years include closeness, understanding, mutual support, fraternal relations. Regardless of the fact that Serbia’s accession to the EU is its strategic priority, Russia was and still is our best friend,” he was quoted as saying.

According to Jeremić, the fact that President Medvedev will visit Belgrade on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade from the fascist occupation gives this visit a special importance.

He confirmed that the issue of renaming some Belgrade streets after Soviet military leaders will also be on the agenda.

“Serbian leadership supports that. The liberators of Belgrade are our country’s heroes and it is quite natural to have symbols that will remind the future generations on those achievements,” the minister stated.

Jeremić also said that former Red Army and General Zhdanov boulevards should be given their old names, and that “legal procedures to that end will soon commence”.

Important for both countries

In Belgrade, Politika newspaper editor Slobodan Samardžija says that Serbia and Russia have no open political issues, but adds that there are problems in the economic cooperation between the two countries.

Samardžija reminded that Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Konuzin mentioned this as well.

“The problem is that what is agreed on is not realized, it takes a long time and there are many obstacles. These obstacles should be discussed between Mr. Jeremić and the Russian officials he will be meeting with,” said the Politika editor.

“What Mr. Konuzin said, was the fact that in Serbia, according to him, there are strong lobbies in the government as well, that are putting the breaks on cooperation with Russia for some reason which can be interpreted as a desire of those people to cooperate with someone else,” Samardžija said.

He added that Medvedev’s visit will be significant for both Serbia and Russia.

“That is a recognition of our policies, which have been very active recently. It is also important for Russia to show that it is interested in this region and that it is not giving up on it,” he said.

“Our region is important for Russia, not only for peace in the Balkans, because in the end, we are not very near Russia, but because this peace makes sure that everything else is functioning – the oil, the gas pipelines, and everything else – the complete cooperation between Russia and the west,” he said.

Medvedev’s visit is scheduled for October 20. He will be in Belgrade for the celebration of the 65h anniversary of Belgrade’s liberation during World War II.

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