Meeting between ministers Vučević and Petrides
Today, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Miloš Vučević met with the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus, Charalambos Petrides, at the Old General Staff building in Belgrade. After inspecting the ceremonial honour guard during the arrival ceremony, ministers Vučević and Petrides had a tête-à-tête, followed by a meeting between the delegations led by the two ministers.
In his address following the meeting, Minister Vučević expressed his satisfaction at the visit from his Cypriot counterpart, which, according to him, was a confirmation of the traditionally firm friendship between the two countries and two nations.
– I am very satisfied with today's meeting. I carefully listened to and interpreted Mr. Petrides’s precise and meaningful messages. We are grateful to Cyprus primarily for its consistent and principled stance on all sensitive issues and issues of vital importance for our country. I am talking about the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Serbia, i.e. the principles of public international law. Serbia is grateful to Cyprus for its support regarding the status of our southern province of Kosovo and Metohija. Your voice is very important, primarily in the community of EU member states - said Minister Vučević.
Vučević pointed out that Serbia's position regarding Cyprus remains unchanged, too.
– We do not want to see the island divided, we see a single Cyprus, with one government in Nicosia and it will forever be so, as long as that is the policy of Cyprus. As long as this is your position, the Serbian position will be the same - said the Serbian minister.
According to Vučević, the meeting discussed the current regional situation, the situation in Kosovo and Metohija, Priština’s actions and official Serbia’s reactions.
The interlocutors also commented on the Ukrainian and global crises, and Minister Petrides informed the Serbian delegation about the events in the Eastern Mediterranean and clarified the positions of Cyprus on those issues.
– One of the important items on today’s agenda was military-economic and military-technical cooperation. I am certain that the relations between the two countries in that area will be further strengthened in the upcoming period. I believe that trade between our countries will be substantial in the military-economic and military-technical spheres. It will be a two-way street that will contribute to the strengthening of both armed forces’ defence capabilities, to the satisfaction of both countries - said Minister Vučević.
He thanked his Cypriot counterpart for the opportunity to present the Serbian side’s positions and expectations in this regard, with a view to formalizing and concluding commercial contracts which, according to him, have a strong impact on the defence capabilities of both countries.
– The Ministry of Defence and the Serbian Armed Forces, as well as the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Serbia, are proud of our contribution to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. We are proud to be part of the family of states whose soldiers and policemen protect and look after the safety of the citizens of Cyprus. We are proud of our boys and girls there and I am sure that their friends, the citizens of Cyprus, make them feel more than welcome - said Vučević.
The Minister thanked the Serbian Ambassador to Cyprus, Mr. Marko Blagojević, for making sure that the first official visit from a defence minister, following the formation of the new Serbian Government, was a visit from the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Cyprus.
– It is much more than a formal meeting; there is powerful symbolism to it. It is a confirmation of our decades-long friendship, the friendship between two nations, between two states. I believe that together we will preserve everything that has been achieved so far and that we will improve it - said Vučević, expressing satisfaction with the fact that Cyprus was interested in weapons and military equipment produced by the Serbian defence industry.
The Minister of Defence added that our country was likewise interested in some of the weapons and military equipment owned by the Republic of Cyprus, exclusively in terms of strengthening the defence capabilities of the Serbian Armed Forces.
Minister Charalambos Petrides said that the fact that he was the first defence minister to pay an official visit to Serbia following the formation of the new Serbian Government was a testament to the traditional bond of friendship and cooperation between Cyprus and Serbia.
– I am glad that our countries enjoy a solid cooperation in many fields, including defence cooperation. We have an active programme of annual defence cooperation which includes exercises, trainings and other activities in both Cyprus and Serbia. We have discussed ways to enhance and expand our cooperation in the near future. We also maintain an important cooperation in the field of armaments. The Serbian defence industry has provided valuable support to our armed forces and we are gratified that this cooperation is based on mutual trust and builds on our excellent overall bilateral relations - said Minister Petrides.
On the Cyprus issue, he thanked Serbia for its constant support, based on positions of principle in all regional and international fora. Minister Petrides also reiterated that his country maintained a principled position on the non-recognition of the unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo and Metohija.
– The principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity are inalienable and unquestionable. That said, we are following the latest developments in Kosovo and Metohija with particular attention. It is evident, and this has been made clear also in the press statement of High Representative Josep Borrel, following the emergency High-Level Meeting of 21st November, that Priština is not taking a constructive stance, including on the issue of the Association of Serbian Municipalities. In this context, we welcome the agreement reached on 23rd November which will facilitate de-escalation – said Petrides.
The Cypriot Minister of Defence also said that his country supported Serbia’s EU accession and that Belgrade had made good efforts in implementing reforms. Petrides also encouraged Serbia to continue to advance with the same determination and commitment.