MOSCOW - Reuters
Russian President Putin (R) and Serbian President-elect Nikolic speak during their meeting in Moscow. AP photo
Serbia is on a “long and uncertain” road to joining the European Union
but will not give up its claim to Kosovo for the sake of membership, President-elect Tomislav Nikolic told Russian
President Vladimir Putin on May 26, who promised to provide an $800 million loan during the meeting.
It was former leader of the ultranationalist Radical Party Nikolic’s first foreign trip since he was elected president on May 20. The pair spoke warmly of ties between their nations, which share mostly Slavic, Orthodox
Christian culture.$800 million ‘aid’
“We see Serbia as our spiritual brothers,” said Putin, who met Nikolic on the sidelines of a congress of the dominant United Russia
party just outside the Kremlin.
Nikolic told Putin that “Serbia is a partner of Russia
in the Balkans” and said he would protect the interests of Serbia and Russia. Nikolic offered further assurance that he wants Serbia to join the EU.
“Serbia is on the road to the EU. It is a long and uncertain road. We will order our country according to the rules that exist in the EU,” Nikolic told Putin, according to Russian
news agency Itar-Tass and Serbia’s Tanjug.
Putin told Nikolic that Russia
was “ready” to provide an $800 million infrastructure improvement loan that has long been under negotiation, but did not say when it might be finalized. In December, the had entered final negotiations for the loan to overhaul the Balkan country’s dilapidated rail network, part of a wider economic pact agreed in 2009.
Nikolic added that he has “not heard there exists the condition that Serbia should recognize Kosovo.
We cannot do that, even if it meant breaking off negotiations at that very moment.”
Compiled from Reuters and AFP stories by the Daily News staff.