President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
The President of Serbia, Mr Vucic, and I have just completed our talks, which, as is always the case, took place in a friendly and constructive atmosphere.
We discussed in detail the entire scope of topics on the Russian-Serbian cooperation agenda, exchanged views on the situation in the Balkans, primarily around Kosovo, and on other pressing regional problems.
Relations between Russia and Serbia have a rich history, are based on a centuries-old friendship, spiritual affinity and longstanding traditions of support and mutual assistance.
The peoples of Russia and Serbia fought shoulder to shoulder during the Second World War; they fought together against Nazism. We are deeply grateful to our Serbian friends for preserving the memory of the Soviet soldiers who gave their lives to liberate Yugoslavia, and for the careful attitude towards the monuments and burial sites of Russian and Soviet soldiers.
Next year we will mark an important date, the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. Mr Vucic accepted the invitation to attend the celebrations that will be held on May 9 in Moscow. We will also see the Serbian military as participants in the military parade on Red Square.
I would like to note that cooperation between Russia and Serbia is a truly strategic partnership in all areas; we continuously maintain an intensive political dialogue. The President of Serbia and I always keep in touch.
Russian-Serbian economic cooperation has also reached a good level. In 2018, bilateral trade reached $2.1 billion. In January-September 2019, it rose by another 9.5 percent. Russian investment in the Serbian economy exceeds $4 billion.
The list of the largest investors includes our energy company, Gazprom Neft, which has invested about $3 billion in its subsidiary, Naftna Industrija Srbije, and intends to invest another $1.4 billion until 2025.
Russia is the largest gas supplier to Serbia. The volume of gas exports to Serbian consumers exceeded 2.5 billion cubic metres last year.
Serbia is now taking part in the construction of a gas transit system that extends the TurkStream as a surface level pipeline in southern Europe. The pipe laying in Serbia will be completed in the next few weeks.
We have agreed to increase the capacity of underground gas storage in Serbia from 750 million cubic metres to 2 billion cubic metres.
We are sure that the implementation of these large-scale energy projects will help to significantly strengthen energy security not only in Serbia but also for the entire Balkan region and Europe as a whole.
Russian companies are contributing to the development of transport infrastructure in Serbia. In particular, Russian Railways is helping upgrade Serbian railways and is creating an up-to-date operating centre, which will allow a significant increase in speed and efficiency of rail transport.
Russia offers assistance with upgrading aircraft fleet of Air Serbia, Serbia’s national airline. We are ready to supply Russian-made planes and set up a regional maintenance centre for Russian aircraft at the Belgrade airport.
Sberbank and the SOGAZ insurance company have successful operations in Serbia. They provide a wide range of financial services to individuals and legal entities as well as support for Russian and Serbian energy and transport enterprises.
To be continued.