The Guardian November 1, 2000

Russia, Yugoslavia issue Joint Statement on Strategic Partnership

Russian President Vladimir Putin and visiting Yugoslav President Vojislav 
Kostunica signed a joint statement on establishing a new,  all-around 
partnership between their countries following Kostunica's visit to Moscow 
last week. The two Presidents agreed to maintain regular political dialogue 
at various levels, including the top leadership.

The Presidents discussed bilateral political and economic ties, regional 
security and international issues, especially the situation in Yugoslavia 
and the whole Balkan region. Outstanding debts owed by Yugoslavia for gas 
supplies are expected to be paid for with commodities the report says.

Putin stressed that Yugoslavia is Russia's traditional and main partnership 
in the Balkans. He praised Kostunica for peacefully solving the crisis over 
recent Yugoslav presidential elections and said that Russia will stand 
together with Yugoslavia forever and respects the Yugoslav people's choice.

Russia will "provide tangible aid to Yugoslavia in rebuilding its economy 
and overcoming the NATO aggression and the policy of sanctions," says a 
joint statement adopted at the meeting.

"Russia and Yugoslavia regard full normalization and the establishment of 
neighbourly relations between all the countries that emerged from the 
former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as the main factor in 
stabilizing the situation in the Balkans," it continues.

The two countries support full implementation of the UN Security Council 
resolution No.1244 on Kosovo, aimed at constructing there a democratic 
multi-ethnic society, the early start of political talks and the signing of 
an agreement on the status of the Yugoslav province, the statement reads.

Kostunica, who was elected Yugoslav President last month and announced a 
non-pro-West policy earlier this month, reaffirmed after his meeting with 
Putin that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia relies "not only on its 
traditional partners and closest neighbours such as the Russian Federation, 
but also on the West."

He said relations with Russia are important to Yugoslavia and Russia's 
presence in the Balkans is of great significance.

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