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Russia’s foreign minister to visit Serbia for bilateral talks

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Russia’s foreign minister to visit Serbia for bilateral talks

thaci vucic signing e1592306392494
Photo: Hashim Thaci/Twitter

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is scheduled to pay a state visit to Belgrade today.

The trip, which was previously scheduled for March and postponed due to COVID-19, will be the minister’s first foreign visit since the pandemic’s onset. The visit comes just days ahead of June’s parliamentary elections with voters sharply divided between supporters and opponents of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who heads the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and is an ardent supporter of the Serbo-Russian partnership.

A key discussion item on the agenda will be Serbia’s ongoing conflict with Kosovo. Russia is a long-standing Serbian ally on the issue, and the timing of the visit is expected to appeal to the SNS’s nationalist, pro-Russian voter base.

Kosovo and Serbia have agreed to hold talks at the White House later this month, at which Moscow will likely encourage compromise (subject to approval by the UN Security Council where Russia retains veto power). Considering the significance of the Kosovo issue in Serbian domestic politics, as well as the growing popularity that President Vladimir Putin enjoys in Serbia, Vucic will likely tap Russian support in an effort to make potential negotiations more palatable to the Serbian public.

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