The Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday will visit Belgrade, where he will hold talks with the highest Serbian leadership. This will be the first foreign visit of the Russian Minister, after a pause, caused by a coronavirus pandemic. Besides, it will take place three days before parliamentary elections in Serbia. The visit must first answer the question of how the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, which Moscow has supported in this election, is willing to deed and not in words to be a strategic partner of Russia in the region. With details — the correspondent of “Kommersant” in the Balkans Gennady Sysoev.The arrival of Sergei Lavrov, Serbian media reported a few days ago, so many saw the visit as a surprise. Especially as it became known earlier about the upcoming June 24 visit of the Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic to Moscow, where he will attend the parade in honor of the 75th anniversary of the victory over fascism and will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And nevertheless Sergey Lavrov will visit Belgrade in less than a week before the arrival of the Serbian President to Moscow to meet with the very Aleksandar Vucic and his Serbian counterpart Ivica Dacic. And this will be the first foreign visit by a Russian head of diplomacy after an almost three-month pause caused by a coronavirus pandemic.”Lavrov will visit Serbia on the eve of the parliamentary elections in the Republic, which will be held June 21. The visit will demonstrate that Russia expects to Vucic, and at the same time wants to check the Serbian leader as a partner and show not only him, but most of the Serbs, Pro-Russian and Pro-Putin, Russia is with them,— explained “Kommersant” known Balkan expert, a columnist for Croatian newspaper Jutarnji list Vlado Vurusic.— Although the party Vucic certainly confidently wins the election, so obvious support of Moscow to him very useful.”That Sergei Lavrov will find the opportunity to support headed by Aleksandar vučić, the Serbian progressive party, no doubt. The more that a couple of days ago, as reported by the administration of Serbian President, he had a telephone conversation with Vladimir Putin, the Russian President “expressed confidence in the victory led by Aleksandar Vucic party in the upcoming elections.” In the message of the Kremlin at the end of the conversation, similar phrases, but no.As suggested by Vlado Vurusic, “Lavrov visited Belgrade now not only to support Vucic, but in order to stake out the Russian position in the Balkans”. But these positions do not always coincide with the approaches of Belgrade.In Moscow, for example, do not share the aspirations of Alexander Vucic as soon as possible to conclude an agreement on the normalization of relations with Kosovo, for fear that it will open up to Pristina and Belgrade the way not only in the EU but also in NATO. “Vucic next week dir��is in Washington for talks with Kosovo leaders in the presence of President Donald trump— like Vlado Vurusic.— And Moscow has reasonable fears that the President of Serbia can make a deal on Kosovo that does not meet Russian interests.”The differences between Moscow and Belgrade, there are the status of the Russian-Serbian Humanitarian centre in Niš in Southeast Serbia. Moscow has long insisted on working all the Russians there is diplomatic status, Belgrade, under various pretexts, for years, evaded signing the agreement, fearing to spoil relations with the United States. But Serbia, which Russia considers a key ally in the Balkans, has taken some notable steps in the direction of the North Atlantic Alliance: NATO members have the freedom of movement for Serbian territory, the access to all objects, and most importantly — diplomatic immunity.In addition, the Russian-Serbian relations are increasingly new stimuli and they occur through no fault of Moscow. On the eve of the December visit of Aleksandar Vucic to Russia and his meeting with Vladimir Putin in Serbia broke the spy scandal with the assistant of the Russian military attache in the title role (see “Kommersant” on November 23, 2019). And in early June, the Serbian media, including those close to the authorities, raised a fuss because of the expected appointment of the head of Rossotrudnichestvo Yevgeny Primakov, who is in Belgrade enrolled in the supporters of the Serbian opposition. The influential Belgrade newspaper Blic quoted a source in the government: “When you appoint a person type Primakov in such a place, knowing that they will break relations with an ally, your intentions become clear. The fact that Vucic is too independent, no longer meets the interests of Russia.” After this apology from the publication has demanded the Russian Ambassador in Belgrade Alexander Botan-Kharchenko.On the eve of the arrival of Sergei Lavrov, the Serbian President said that the visit “reaffirms the close and friendly relations and senior strategic partnership” between the two countries. However, experts believe that the meaning of the visit of the Russian Minister is in receipt of specific confirmation of these words of the Serbian President. “Lavrov will almost certainly require Vucic clear explanations about the relations of Belgrade with the West, China and Russia,— said “Kommersant” Vlado Vurusic.— But rather, guarantees a real bind its policy towards Moscow”.
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