BELGRADE, 2 December (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko has arrived in Serbia on an official visit. The aircraft with the Belarusian head of state on board landed in the Nikola Tesla Airport in Belgrade, BelTA has learned.
An escort of three MiG-29 fighter jets was initially supposed to accompany the Belarusian aircraft in Serbia's airspace. Not everyone but only the most desired guests are shown such a token of respect. For instance, President of Russia Vladimir Putin was welcomed in this manner in Belgrade in early 2019.
However, due to bad weather conditions the escort was reduced to one fighter jet only. It followed 5km astern of the Belarusian aircraft: the military jet could not fly closer due to security concerns.
Serbia President Aleksandar Vucic came to the airport to welcome the Belarusian head of state despite rain. Aleksandar Vucic welcomed his Belarusian counterpart near the aircraft's ramp.
After that the heads of state went to a memorial complex in honor of Belgrade's liberators. The memorial was opened in October 1954 ahead of the tenth anniversary of the city's liberation. Remains of over 1,300 regular army soldiers and partisans of the People's Liberation Army of Yugoslavia and 711 Red Army soldiers, who died during the Belgrade offensive in 1944, are buried there. Belarusians are among them. Nearly 3,000 Yugoslavian soldiers and about 1,000 Soviet ones died fighting to liberate the city.
The Belarus president laid a wreath at the monument and signed the distinguished visitors' book.
The head of state noted: “In the year of celebration of the 75th anniversary of Belarus' and Serbia's liberation from the Nazi invaders we bow low to the deed of the heroes, who gave their lives for the freedom and independence of our countries, for the peaceful future of the descendants. We are deeply grateful to our Serbian friends for taking good care of the memory of the glorious sons of Belarus, who died to liberate Serbia during World War Two.
Aleksandr Lukashenko and Aleksandar Vucic are expected to have informal talks during supper. An official meeting of the two leaders will take place in the Palace of Serbia tomorrow. The presidents are going to discuss the advancement of the political dialogue and interaction in economic affairs. Close attention will be paid to prospects of increasing the trade turnover, initiatives to set up joint ventures and launch mutually beneficial projects. The heads of state will also discuss regional and international agendas, cooperation on international platforms.
While in Serbia Aleksandr Lukashenko is also expected to meet with President of the National Assembly of Serbia Maja Gojkovic and members of the parliament.
A Belarusian-Serbian business forum will take place in Belgrade simultaneously with the visit. Representatives of the private sectors of the two countries are expected to discuss opportunities for cooperation in industrial production and mechanical engineering, agriculture, petrochemical industry, food production, pharmaceutics, light industry, woodworking, and other areas.
Contracts on selling roughly $100 million worth of Belarusian products are supposed to be signed during the forum.
Belarus established diplomatic relations with the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in November 1994. Serbia is the legal successor of Yugoslavia as of 2006.
The Belarus president has visited Serbia four times: in 1998, 1999, 2009, and 2014. Leaders of Serbia have visited Minsk four times.
In 2018 Belarus-Serbia trade totaled $148 million. Belarus' exports to Serbia include trucks, unalloyed steel rods, tractors and truck tractors, twisted wire made of ferrous metals, tires, petroleum gases and gaseous hydrocarbons, buses, hot-rolled rods, particle boards, synthetic yarn and fibers, oil products, fertilizers.
Photos by Andrei Pokumeiko and Andrei Stasevich