Ambassador of Russia to Serbia Aleksandr Botsan-Kharchenko has said that he sees Belgrade as a link in relations between the West and Russia.
He told N1 that the signing of the Free Trade Area Agreement between Serbia and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), expected on October 25, is only the beginning, and that he expects cooperation to be strengthened going forward.
“This above all concerns free trade, open and free markets, free movement of goods, services and labor. The EAEU has taken the best experiences from similar integrations, and we think the EAEU has a pretty solid perspective. Every day, more and more countries are eager to join, to have some kind of contract,” Botsan-Kharchenko explained.
He doesn’t see the EU integration process as an obstacle to Belgrade’s cooperation with the EAEU.
The ambassador said that it is possible for Serbia to become a link in Russia-EU relations, that is, “in integration of integrations” – i.e., in cooperation between the EU and the EAEU.
Serbia, he explained, will have the opportunity to, after October 25, have duty-free trade, with few exceptions, and enter a market of a total of 180 million consumers.
Russia, on the other hand, will have the opportunity to increase its product placement – industrial and other kinds, the ambassador added, noting that the goal is for trade to reach $ 4 billion.
Speaking about the military-technical cooperation between Russia and Serbia, he stressed that Moscow proceeds from considering defense policy a sovereign matter of every country.
“This sphere is sensitive, quite complicated, and the industry is complicated, complex and modern. Russia is now at peak production, the quality is outstanding. We have interest from a number of countries in the world. And here, too, we want fair competition, without politicization, we are against impositions,” he said.
According to him, in the framework of his country’s military-technical cooperation with Serbia, Russia has in mind above all the task of strengthening security in the region.
“No one will be harmed by that. Serbia will step up its defenses, without any harm or threat to its neighbors and the region,” Botsan-Kharchenko said.
The diplomat also stated the outgoing prime minister of provisional Pristina institutions, Ramush Haradinaj, saying that Russia is in favor of partitioning Kosovo was “ridiculous”:
“We never initiated an idea of the kind, of territorial corrections. There had been such proposals on the margins, including during the period of status negotiations, but they were never officially on the negotiating table,” he said.
Russia, he added, wants the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina to be restored as soon as possible, and if Serbia asks, Moscow will support it within international law.
“Russia, having the desire, also has an obligation, because it is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Regular discussions (about Kosovo) must continue, and this is one of the issues within the purview of the UN Security Council. That is why it’s impossible for Russia not to participate and not to remain a factor in solving issues, and making some decisions,” the ambassador said.