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News 14 Sep 17

Russia Backs Serb Party Joining Kosovo Govt

Vladimir Putin's United Russia party supports the decision of the Kosovo Serb party, Srpska lista, to enter the Kosovo Government, Belgrade announced on Thursday.

Maja Zivanovic
BIRN
Belgrade

Delegations of Serbian Progressive Party and United Russia at Moscow on Thursday. Photo: Serbian Progressive Party

Russia's ruling party has lent important support to the decision of the main Kosovo Serb party - with Belgrade's support - to enter the Kosovo government.

Vladimir Putin's United Russia party supports the decision of Srpska Lista, to "act in the Pristina institutions for the rights and improvement of the position of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija”, a statement carried by Serbia's Beta news agency said.

The statement followed a meeting between the president of Srpska Lista, Goran Rakic, the head of Serbia's Office for Kosovo, Marko Djuric, and a delegation from United Russia.

“The Russian side pointed out that the achieved political unity of the Serbian people in Kosovo and Metohija should be confirmed in the upcoming local elections,” the same statement added.

The deputy secretary of the General Council of United Russia, Sergei Zeleznjak, said Russia "respects Serbia's policy on Kosovo and Metohija”, which is for the Kosovo Serbs to be part of the government of Kosovo – despite Serbia's refusal to recognise the independence of its former province.

The pro-Belgrade party in Kosovo, which has nine MPs in the 120-seat Kosovo Assembly, recently supported the election of a new government led by the former Kosovo guerrilla leader, Ramush Haradinaj.

Srpska Lista agreed to join Haradinaj's coaltion government in return for three ministerial posts - the Agriculture, Local Government and Returnee ministries.

According to Beta news agency, the head of the Kosovo Serb party on Thursday invited a representative of United Russia, Sergei Zeleznjak, to visit Kosovo.

Serbia's state news agency, Tanjug, said Marko Djuric, who is also a senior official in Serbia's ruling Progressive Party, conveyed his party's gratitude to United Russia, President Vladimir Putin and “the Russian people for their support and for the development of cooperation between the two parties and states”.

Sergei Zeleznjak said Russia supported the Serbian President and head of the Progressives, Aleksandar Vucic, because he had made an “immutable contribution to justifying and realizing the confidence of the people and to ensuring the security of the citizens and the development of the [Serbian] state”.

Serbia maintains close relations with felllow Orthodox Christian Russia despite its simultaneous pursuit of member of the European Union. It notably refused to join Western sanctions imposed on Russia after it annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

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