Putin Promises Jobs, Boost in Trade, Investment to Serbia
Exports and Russian investment could give a strong push to the Serbian economy, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said in a press conference with Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic.
"We are ready to invest" in energy, machine building, railway and agriculture, Serbian B92 radio quoted Putin as telling reporters while in Belgrade on Thursday.
Investment could be doubled and reach USD 6-10 B in just three years while Europe is enforcing sanctions on Moscow and Russia is banning its food production in response.
Stressing South Stream "cannot be realized unilaterally," the President told Vucic, who had earlier made clear the pipeline "cannot start and end in Serbia," referring to Bulgaria's move to freeze the pipeline at the request of Brussels in June.
In Putin's view, the project "is beneficial for European consumers".
The Russian President also made clear Moscow's stance on the integrity of Serbia and against the independence of Kosovo will not change.
Serbian PM Vucic for his part reiterated Belgrade will not impose sanctions on Moscow.
He also announced "a certain quota" of cars manufactured in Fiat's factory in Serbia's Kragujevac will be exported to Russia.
"South Stream cannot be realized unilaterally, if our partners are still in two minds about it. This is like love, it can be happy only if there are two participants of this wonderful process, who both want to develop relations," he said.
Putin also met his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic, with the two attending a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of Belgrade's liberation from the Nazi army in WWII.
The parade was initially scheduled for October 20, was moved 4 days ahead to coincide with the high-profile visit.
About 20 000 spectators gathered for the parade, with some chanting Putin's name, B92 reports.
This was the Russian President's third official visit to Belgrade, with the former two held in 2001 and 2011.
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