Russian President Vladimir Putin is on a Working Visit to SerbiaDiplomacy | January 17, 2019, Thursday // 09:57| views
Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting his Serbian counterpart on Thursday, when they will sign a series of agreements and memorandums, highlighting the warmth between the two Slavic allies, reported BalkanInsight.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said his visit to Serbia, starting Thursday, would focus on military cooperation and upgrading Serbia's defence. Agreements due to be signed will include one on the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.
"For years, we have been helping to boost Serbia’s defence capabilities by supplying weapons and military equipment, helping to service and modernize them,” the Serbian dailies Politika and Vecernje novosti reported Putin as saying ahead of his visit.
Putin added that Russia will continue to develop military-technical cooperation with Serbia, and accused the US of trying to destabilize the region.
Besides the agreement on the peaceful use of atomic energy, expected agreements will address digital technological development and innovation in the electricity sector.
The two presidents will also sign an agreement on cooperation in the research into and use of cosmic space for peaceful purposes.
Earlier reports said Putin’s visit would see an agreement signed on a free-trade zone agreement between the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union, EAEU, and Serbia.
But Putin told the Serbian media he now expected this agreement to be signed by the end of this year, when it would “open up breakthrough opportunities for increasing the efficiency and practical benefits of joint efforts in the economic domain”.
The Kremlin leader accused the United States of “destabilizing the Balkans by imposing its dominant role in the region”.
Besides senior state officials, Putin will be welcomed in Belgrade by a gathering of citizens, organized by pro-Russian NGOs and Vucic’s ruling Serbian Progressive Party.
A survey conducted by the newspaper Politika in March 2018 put Putin at the top of a list of the most trusted foreign politicians, with the support of 58 per cent of respondents.
Russia and Serbia historically have warm relations based on Slavic ethnic ties and common membership of the Orthodox Church.
Most Serbs view Moscow as one of their biggest allies, especially in the battle to prevent international recognition of the independence of the former province of Kosovo.
Russia was among the first countries to condemn Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008, and it has since voted against the membership of Kosovo in international institutions in line with Belgrade’s policies.
In turn, Serbia has refused to join Western sanctions on Russia for its perceived role in fomenting conflict in Ukraine, despite reminders from Brussels stating that Serbia – as an EU candidate country – needs to align its foreign policy with that of the union.
Ahead of Thursday’s visit, Serbian media reported that around 5,000 Serbian police will take care of the Russian President's secutity. Putin is bringing 30 Russian officers with him.