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18 May 2017

Nikolic may continue supervising Belarus-Serbia relations after his presidential term expires

MINSK, 18 May (BelTA) – Serbia President Tomislav Nikolic may continue supervising the Belarusian-Serbian cooperation after his presidential term expires. He made the statement during the meeting with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk on 18 May, BelTA has learned.

“I have known Aleksandar Vucic (Serbia president-elect since 2 April 2017. – BelTA’s note) for 25 years. He is committed to the same policy. Therefore, nothing will change in our relations. I have agreed with him, the Russian president, the Chinese president that I will coordinate the cooperation with the Russian Federation and China,” Tomislav Nikolic assured.

He remarked that the same role can be formalized in relation to Belarus. “We have advanced our relations to such a high level that they will never worsen,” Tomislav Nikolic is convinced.

The Serbian president thanked for the Order of Friendship of Peoples and emphasized a special attitude of the Belarusian leader to his country. “You visited Serbia during the NATO bombings. I was in opposition back then, but I did not forget and will never forget it. Because this gesture of yours is in fact, the gesture of the Belarusian nation which, just like the Serbian nation, sustained the biggest losses in World War Two,” he said.

“I also was in opposition when I attended your inauguration after the presidential election (the Serbian president was possibly referring to the 2010 presidential election in Belarus). And many people in Serbia did not understand it,” Tomislav Nikolic noted.

The Serbian president said that he tried to eradicate negative attitude to Belarus in certain aspects when he visited the country immediately after his election. “This way I wanted to show my attitude to Europe’s sanctions against Belarus. When Ms. Ashton (High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton from 1 December 2009 till 1 November 2014. – BelTA’s note) asked me why I was going to Belarus I told her that it would be better for them to visit Belarus more often,” the Serbian president stressed.

“Back then we enhanced our economic cooperation and agreed to advance it to a much higher level,” he added.

In 2009-2015, the trade between the two countries went up 4.7 times to exceed $250 million. In January-March 2017, the bilateral trade made up $54.5 million, up 25.6% as against the same period of 2016. Belarus’ export to Serbia increased by 59.6% to $28.4 million.

On 2 April, Serbia held the presidential election. Aleksandar Vucic, current prime minister and leader of the Serbian Progressive Party, won the election. The inauguration ceremony is scheduled for 31 May 2017. The tenure of Tomislav Nikolic who did not run for the second term will end the same day.

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