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Vucic speaks ahead of important meeting with Putin in Sochi: We will address key issues for Serbia

This is the 17th meeting between the presidents of Serbia and Russia

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Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic arrived in Sochi last night, where he will today meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ahead of the important meeting with the Russian president, Vucic spoke to TV Pink, pointing out that the city he was in was completely different than the one he was in six years ago.

"Everything has blossomed, the city has prospered. Then, in 2013, during our first official meeting, we spoke about our debt left over by the previous (Serbian) government. Putin, in a polite way, was angry talking about the debts. I said we were paying them off - and today we are talking about our cooperation that is good. I am proud of our relationship," said Vucic, pointing out that on Wednesday, the discussion will be about politics and economy.

"I want to hear what the Russian position is towards the US and Europe," said Vucic.

President Vucic said he would talk with Putin about Kosovo, but also the situation in the region.

"There's a lot I can learn from him. We will address key issues for our country," said Vucic, adding that Serbia is doing everything it can, when it comes to the gas pipeline.

"We are doing everything we can that is up to us. We must not shut down our manufacturing. We want to expand, not lower our gas and our industry. We will be solving this, too, tomorrow at lunch with Putin," said Vucic.

President Vucic said that creating a system, as far as the military is concerned, is a future step.

"Creating a system that will create a stronger and better army is the next goal. We are inferior to nobody. We used to be, but today we are far from inferior. If you look at our fighters and planes, you will see it's not the same army it was five years ago. It is better," said Vucic, noting that Serbia's goal is to continue to have good relations with Russia.

"I came here as an honorable person, convinced of Russia's friendship with us. My conscience is infinitely clear on every issue. I am the president of Serbia, I love Russia, Germany, France, America, but I love Serbia the most," said Vucic.

The Serbian president will hold talks with the Russian leader in his Sochi residence today, which will be their 17th meeting, the third in a year.

The two presidents, according to Tanjug, will first have a face-to-face meeting and then continue talks with delegations over a working lunch, which Putin is organizing in honor of the Serbian president.

Situation in Kosovo and Metohija one of the topics

The main topics are expected to be bilateral cooperation between the two countries, the current situation in Kosovo and Metohija and the way to resolve the issue, and as Vucic's visit comes shortly after the "Russian spy" affair, that will certainly be one of the topics of conversation between the two presidents.

Upon his arrival in Sochi, Aleksandar Vucic told RTS that he would discuss with Vladimir Putin all the key issues - from Kosovo and Metohija, the situation in the Western Balkans region, to how Putin views the political situation in Europe, Eurasia and around the world.

"I hope to have a good meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It's an extremely important meeting for Serbia because we will discuss all the key issues such as Kosovo and Metohija, the region, bilateral cooperation, see what President Putin's view is of the overall political situation in Europe, Eurasia and the whole world," said Vucic.

He stressed that it is crucial for Serbia to discuss bilateral cooperation and improvement of trade.

"Let's see how and in what way we can improve our trade," stated the president.

Vucic said that last year's trade amounted to $3.6 billion, and that in the first 10 months of this year it will exceed the level from last year, primarily because Serbia imports energy, due to its economic and industrial growth.

He added that an important part of the talks will be devoted to cooperation in the field of improvement of the railway network in Serbia.

Commenting on the fact that the visit to Russia comes after the "Russian spy" affair, Vucic said he closed that issue in conversation with Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Botsan Kharchenko.

"We told the truth, our conscience is clear and we are confident that we will continue to develop the best relations with Russia. If they hold anything against us, I would love to hear it, I have no problem with that," said Vucic.

When reminded that Russian helicopters Mi 35s had arrived in Serbia on the eve of his departure to Russia, Vucic reiterated that these aircraft that are among the best in the world.

"I see it as an additional gesture of friendship and an extended hand to Serbia before visiting Sochi," said Vucic.

"Brothers forever" in downtown Sochi

A large video beam has been put up in the center of Sochi ahead of the meeting between the two presidents - as a gift from our diaspora in Vucic's honor. Along with the message, "Brothers forever," the display shows the flags of Serbia and Russia as well as photographs of Vucic and Putin.

The Serbian delegation includes Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin as well as Director of the Office for Kosovo and Metohija Marko Djuric.

Serbian Ambassador to Russia Miroslav Lazanski greeted them last night.



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