Russian senators visit Belgrade ahead of elections

Russian senators visit Belgrade ahead of elections

Earlier this year, the Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vucic, urged to hold the early parliamentary elections. He explained it by the need to guarantee his country four years of stability to complete the talks on Serbia’s membership in the EU in 2020. The elections will take place on April 24th. Experts believe that at the upcoming elections citizens of Serbia will have to make a choice between the Western and Eastern models of development. In recent years surveys demonstrate a growing skepticism in Serbia in regard to the European integration. According to CESID, today 71.6 percent of the Serbs believe that the membership in both the EU and NATO will not do any good for the country. 11 percent of respondents think that Serbia will benefit from joining the European family; and 14 percent have no clear position.

Valery Ryazansky, Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Social Policy, says that Moscow is not indifferent to the fate of the processes underway in Serbia. Recently, Ryazansky, the head of the Friendship Group on Cooperation between the Federation Council and the Serbian Parliament, and Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Upper House Committee for International Relations, visited Belgrade to participate in a panel discussion, which was entitled ‘The shadow of terrorism over Europe’. “All the processes connected to the refugees in Europe, the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels show that there are no countries that can protect themselves completely from terrorism. It is impossible to ensure the process of unification of the countries in the fight against this evil without joint efforts, without listening to the voice of Russia,” Ryazansky said.

Russian senators also met with the Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic. Vucic is also the head of the parliamentary majority party. “Serbia was able to form a coalition, and we were interested to know how this coalition works, what goals it has set, and whether the position of Serbia joining NATO and their attitude to the Serbian-Russian cooperation had changed. The Serbs were grateful to us for our position on the vote on Srebrenica, which took place at the UN. They expressed this gratitude at all the official and informal meetings.  This vote saved Serbia from being branded on the political, moral and social levels, a nation that committed genocide,” the senator said. Vucic also expressed his gratitude to Russia for the support of Serbia’s position during the consideration to make a self-proclaimed state of Kosovo a member of UNESCO.

Valery Ryazansky and Konstantin Kosachev also met with the chairman of the Serbian People’s Party (a partner of the Serbian Progressive Party in the pre-election coalition), Nenad Popovic, who spoke about the party’s initiative to organize a nationwide referendum on a possible NATO membership. “We are very pleased with the established practice of exchanging views. I’d like to remind you that not so long ago, in the year of the 70th anniversary of the Victory, Sergey Naryshkin, the Chairman of the State Duma, visited Serbia. Last May, Valentina Matviyenko headed a delegation of the Federation Council [the Russian Senate] during the visit to Serbia; the Defense Minister, Sergey Shoigu, and the Vice Premier, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Commission, Dmitry Rogozin, also visited the country. So, we are constantly in touch with a friendly state of Serbia” Ryazansky noted.

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