Official visit of Serbia President Tomislav Nikolic to Belarus

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There are no problems in Belarus-Serbia relations, which are not getting resolved. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement as he met with his Serbian counterpart Tomislav Nikolic on 19 November.

Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked Tomislav Nikolic for support during the previous presidential election and the latest presidential election. Aleksandr Lukashenko also thanked the Serbian nation for recent advancement in Belarus-Serbia relations.

Speaking about trade and economic relations, the Belarus President reminded that the two governments had been instructed to raise the mutual trade up to $0.5 billion. In 2014 the countries managed to reach $250 million. “This year the trade turnover has risen as well. I think in the near future or at least in this five-year term we will reach the trade figure you and me have set. I will be very glad and I think you will be, too, if we have to revise the figure upwards,” stressed the Belarus President.

Speaking about political relations, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that there are no problems either. “We understand the political system in Serbia. If some parties express an opinion different from yours and ours, it is not an aggressive opinion, it is an opinion of some people. In an overwhelming majority of cases we have very positive progress in this regard,” noted the Belarusian head of state. In his opinion, Serbia President Tomislav Nikolic should be credited with the accomplishment. “We have always supported you and will support you just like you do in international organizations. We have promised that during your presidency in the OSCE we will do our best so that you would never say that we were passive in that period,” added the Belarusian leader.

He reminded that the Serbian minister of foreign affairs visited Belarus a short while ago. A very constructive conversation took place, many matters were discussed, primarily those concerning Ukraine. “We honor everything your colleagues have asked of us not only because it has to be done, that we have to do what we promised to you, but also because Ukraine is a very close and dear country for us. We would like peace to always be there,” said the Belarus President.

“In other words, in relations between our nations there are absolutely no problems, which are not getting resolved,” stressed Aleksandr Lukashenko. He remarked he appreciates the personal friendship relations with Tomislav Nikolic. In his opinion, they mean a great deal for the relations between Belarus and Serbia.

Tomislav Nikolic said that Serbia is experiencing difficulties. "It is very difficult to move forward under the burden of the problems that the country has created for itself. Belarus’ support is very valuable for us,” he said and thanked the Belarusian side. Serbia also appreciates Belarus’ political support, taking account of the principles of international law which it adheres in foreign policy. "When Serbia asks you to help protect its interests in Kosovo and Metohija, you do it for us," said Tomislav Nikolic.

The President of Serbia expressed hope that the decision of the European Union to lift the sanctions from Belarus will hold. “Sanctions are always a shame for those who impose them, not for those against whom they are imposed,” the President of Serbia stressed. Tomislav Nikolic said that the EU made a mistake when it chose not to cooperate with Belarus.

The two leaders discussed the entire spectrum of the Belarusian-Serbian cooperation, and the main emphasis was on the fulfillment of the previous instructions of the heads of state. There are no fundamental differences of opinion between Belarus and Serbia. It is true for the bilateral cooperation and the international agenda.

“We have agreed to develop a kind of a plan or, as it is called today, a roadmap for cooperation with Serbia for the near future,” the Belarusian leader noted. Aleksandr Lukashenko believes it would lay a good foundation for bolstering the cooperation between the two countries.

The Belarusian head of state noted that during the extended meeting the leaders agreed that the participants of the session of the intergovernmental commission due on 19 November will try to find new avenues for cooperation in order to bolster and expand the bilateral economic ties. Aleksandr Lukashenko stated with regret that Belarus and Serbia do not use their investment cooperation potential to the full.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Belarus is ready to support Serbia’s proposals regarding promising projects in various fields at the government level. In particular, Belarus is ready to implement joint construction, machine building, wood processing, agricultural, and food projects with Serbia. Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that there is a positive example of Serbia’s investing in the Belarusian economy. In particular, this pertains to the successful project to build the complex Mayak Minska (Minsk Lighthouse) and the recently initiated project Minsk Mir.

The relations in trade, economy, humanitarian field, at the regional level are increasingly vibrant.

Apart from that the countries are looking for new promising areas of joint work.

At the same time, the President of Belarus stressed that the promotion of cooperation projects is “a two-way road”. “We count on the similar support of Belarusian investment projects in Serbia,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said and added that this issue has been discussed during the one-on-one meeting.

According to the President of Belarus, there are good prospects in the fuel and energy sector, agriculture, machine building, improvement of the transport infrastructure, science, education, and tourism.

“I understand the President of Serbia who says that the investments in the manufacturing industry are very important for Serbia today. This is the right course. If there are efficient enterprises, if people are employed, there will be budget revenues and stability in the country,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that Belarus and Serbia have developed their relations to the stage when the sides realize the need to advance from simple trade operations to more complex and efficient cooperation forms in the manufacturing sector, science and technology, innovations. He noted that Belarusian tractors, buses, freight vehicles are already assembled in Serbia. These products have found a niche on the markets of Serbia and the Balkan region. There are also promising projects to set up joint ventures to make fire engines and farm equipment.

Aleksandr Lukashenko invited businessmen from Serbia to implement projects in Belarus. According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, now there is a good chance and it should be exploited primarily by businessmen from Serbia. “We understand in what situation Serbia is. It feels the vice grip of the countries that see only their own gains in Serbia or mainly cater to their own interests while forgetting Serbia’s own interests. And certainly today Serbia has to demonstrate a lot of diplomacy and resourcefulness to survive in this situation,” noted the Belarusian leader. He stressed that Belarus is absolutely open to Serbian entrepreneurs. “Come and let’s develop what interests Serbia here. Let’s work together on what you are interested in creating in your territory and trade with other countries. We should not lose time because it will be very hard to catch up later,” said the Belarus President.

“I would like the Serbian nation, businessmen of Serbia to understand that we were, are and will be your friends,” stressed Aleksandr Lukashenko.

According to the Belarusian leader, Belarus’ participation in the Eurasian Economic Union and Serbia’s free trade agreement with the European Union and the Balkan countries enable favorable conditions for raising the potential of Belarus-Serbia trade, economic, and investment interaction.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Belarus views Serbia as a key trade and economic partner in the Balkans.

“Belarus supports the territorial integrity of Serbia and welcomes the efforts of the Serbian authorities to normalize the situation in Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija and bring peace and prosperity to this region,” the Belarusian leader said.

“Summing up the results of today’s meeting, I can say with confidence that the partnership of our countries is developing new dimensions and becoming full-fledged and productive,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized. He expressed confidence that the meeting will bring considerable results in the near future.

After the talks in Minsk Aleksandr Lukashenko and Tomislav Nikolic signed a joint statement. Aleksandr Lukashenko and Tomislav Nikolic praised the results of cooperation and the progress in various fields reached after the top-level meeting in Belgrade in 2014, expressed mutual interest in the maintenance of the regular bilateral political dialogue at the top and high levels, vigorous development of parliamentary ties, improvement of existing and creation of new mechanisms of the Belarusian-Serbian trade and economic interaction, expansion of the legal framework of cooperation.