Slavenko Terzic: “We hope Russia won’t leave Serbia without gas”
The Deputy Head of the Board of Gazprom, Alexander Medvedev, says that the launch of the first line of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline has been delayed due to the political crisis in Turkey. Today there is a provisional government in Turkey, and signing of the intergovernmental agreement and the start of the gas pipeline has been delayed. Earlier it was planned that it would happen in December 2016. The Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to the Russian Federation, Dr. Slavenko Terzic, told Vestnik Kavkaza that Belgrade was interested in imports of Russian gas, but “where the gas would come from, Serbia didn’t know.”
- Mr. Terzic what is your view on the prospects of Russian-Serbian relations?
- We have political relations at the highest level. We have held a number of meetings at the highest level almost every year, at the level of presidents and prime ministers. We look forward to the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Alexander Vucic to the Russian Federation. We have signed the Declaration on Strategic Partnership. It would be nice if such a high level of friendly relations on the political level could be accompanied by economic relations. We have a trading volume of about three billion euros, but we believe that the potential of our economic cooperation, including in the field of tourism, has not yet been exhausted.
- In the last 10 years the number of Russian tourists who visited Serbia increased fivefold. Last year 50.5 thousand Russian tourists visited Serbia. Does Belgrade believe the number is not enough?
- Of course. Unfortunately, the Russians don’t know Serbia. Serbia is a fertile, rich, friendly, Orthodox, Slavic country. We do not have a sea, but there are so many other possibilities. For example, we have very well-developed mountain tourism, medical and spa tourism, we have developed pilgrimage. Serbia has hundreds of wonderful medieval monasteries. The best thing is that we have a visa-free regime; we have four daily flights, two Russian, two of our companies. The Russians in Serbia are met fraternally. Absolutely friendly, and every Russian is a brother to the Serbs.
- Serbia supported the project of the South Stream gas pipeline, and it was disappointed that the project was shut down. At the same time, it was decided to implement the project of the Turkish Stream instead of the South Stream to the countries of Southern and Central Europe. What does Belgrade think about the gas prospects?
- It is a difficult question. You know that we expected a lot from the South Stream, but it was stopped. Today the Turkish Stream is also postponed. Serbia is a country which is interested in Russian gas, but I don’t know where gas will be imported from. Today they discuss the Nord Stream-2, but there are also difficulties. We still hope that Russia won’t leave Serbia without gas. It happened last year. Winter is coming, and I hope we will have no problems with this. As for the gas pipeline, I should say that the most reliable and interesting project for us was the South Stream. What will be next? I think there should be a decision at the EU-Russia level.
- How are relations between Serbia and the South Caucasus countries?
- We have an embassy in Azerbaijan. Georgia is supervised by our embassy in Kiev, and Armenia by our embassy in Athens. We are interested in the development of friendly relations. We have good relations with Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. As the current chairman of the OSCE, Serbia is interested in the stability of the region. I think the South Caucasus is very interesting from the cultural and civilizational points of view. I would like to learn more about it.