Serbia views Russia as true, great friend

BELGRADE - Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic stated on Thursday in the talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin that Serbia views Russia as a true and great friend, adding that Russia's support is precious in preservation of the territorial sovereignty and integrity, particularly in terms of Kosovo-Metohija.
I know that you adhere to the principle, although you could take a different stance, Nikolic said, adding that Serbia views Russia as its great ally, associate and partner and that it will not corrupt its moral by any bad behavior towards Russia.
He underlined that today Serbia has no enemies, it rather has friends and good friends, reiterating that it views Russia as a great friend.
In the manner, today's Serbia shows that it thinks the same as its ancestors and teaches its children to love Russia. We are connected not only through common Slavic origin, language, creed, tradition and culture, but also by the fact that we have always been on the same side, the Serbian president said.
Nikolic also noted that economic cooperation is in conformity with the two countries' friendship, adding that the bilateral commodity exchange has increased in the first six months of 2014.
He said that export from Russia is bigger that Serbia's export to Russia primarily due to energy derivatives.
Putin: We share common history and good future
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that Russia and Serbia had a lot of common experience from the past and a bright future in store.
At the beginning of his meeting with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, Putin recalled the campaign for the liberation of Belgrade taking place 70 years ago, saying that it had been a joint struggle for the right cause.
Speaking about Kosovo, whose unilaterally procleimed independence has not been recognized by Russia, Putin said that Moscow took a principled position here that was not only based on friendly relations between the two countries, but also on international law.
This is a principled position that will not undergo any kind of change. We support Serbia and we will keep supporting it in the future, Putin said.
President Putin said that trade and economic relations between Russia and Serbia were improving, but there was ample room to make them a lot better, and expressed hope that additional grounds for further cooperation would be found during his talks with Serbian officials on Thursday.
Nikolic presents Putin with Serbia's highest decoration
Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic presented on Thursday the Order of the Republic of Serbia, First Class, on the Grand Collar to the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
Nikolic awarded the decoration to the Russian president for his exceptional contribution to the development and strengthening of peaceful cooperation and friendly relations between Serbia and Russia. “Dear brother Vladimir, the Serbian people is proud to see you honored with the highest decoration of Serbia”, said Nikolic, addressing Putin in Russian.
The Russian president said that Serbia's highest decoration is an expression of its respect and love for Russia and the Russian people.
Thanking for the decoration, Putin said that he does not think that he had done something to deserve the highest honor, but that he sees it as an expression of respect and love of the people of Serbia for Russia and its people.
I assure you that Russia will continue to regard Serbia as its closest ally and partner, as it had done in the past, the Russian leader said.
Putin added that he will continue to do everything he can in order for the relations between the two countries to develop gradually and in accordance with the interests of both sides, but also in a way that will contribute to a more just world and help the resolution of problems.
Putin is the first to receive the highest decoration of Serbia. A total of 18 Orders of the Republic of Serbia have so far been presented to world leaders, but only one is of First Class on the Grand Collar.
The Order of the Republic of Serbia was established on October 26, 2009 by the Law on Decorations of the Republic of Serbia and introduced in 2010. It is awarded to heads of state or prime ministers in recognition of their outstanding merit for the state and the people of Serbia.
Serbia's highest decoration was awarded to Vladimir Putin by a presidential decree of February 22, 2013.