On June 24, Belgrade hosted the Russian-Serbian conference of the Valdai Discussion Club, organised in partnership with the office of Rossotrudnichestvo in the Republic of Serbia — the Russia House in Belgrade, titled: “Russia in the Balkans: A look into the future”. The Valdai Club is discovering a new region of high priority for Russia.
International relations in the Balkans are developing dynamically. The region is of great importance for Moscow, which is explained by the cultural, religious and political ties of Russia with the peoples of the region. These ties with Serbia are especially significant. Bilateral cooperation is not limited to the historical memory. Moscow and Belgrade hold a similar position on many issues of the international agenda, develop joint economic, infrastructure and energy projects.
The special status of Russian-Serbian relations is reinforced by practical steps. Serbia did not join the EU sanctions policy against Russia, and from July 10 it will begin the free trade zone interaction with the Eurasian Economic Union. In early June, Serbia became the first European state to launch the production of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine on its territory. Cooperation between Russia and Serbia in the gas sector has been strengthened with the launch of the new Balkan Stream pipeline. These are just some of the issues that were at the centre of the discussion during the two sessions of the conference: prospects for cooperation between Russia and Serbia in the economic sphere; prospects for cooperation between Russia and Serbia in the humanitarian and cultural spheres.
The conference participants included Ivica Dačić, Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia; Nikola Selaković, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia; Aleksandar Vulin, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Serbia; Nenad Popović, Co-chairman of the Intergovernmental Serbian-Russian Committee for Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation; Andreja Mladenović, assistant to the Mayor of Belgrade; Siniša Atlagić, Head of the Center for Russian Studies at the Faculty of Political Science, University of Belgrade; and others; Aleksander Botsan-Kharchenko Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Serbia; Evgeny Primakov, Head of Rossotrudnichestvo; Evgeny Baranov, Head of the Rossotrudnichestvo Office in Serbia and Director of the Russia House in Belgrade; Alexander Ivlev, EY Managing Partner for CIS Countries; Ekaterina Entina, Deputy Vice Rector, Professor of the School of International Affairs, HSE University; Senior Researcher, Institute of Europe, RAS; Andrey Bystritskiy, Chairman of the Board of the Foundation for Development and Support of the Valdai Discussion Club; Oleg Barabanov, programme director of the Valdai Discussion Club; Alexander Rahr, senior researcher at the WeltTrends Institute for International Policy in Potsdam as well as scientific director of the German-Russian Forum, and others.