Serbia is not planning to join the European economic sanctions against Russia, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said at the meeting of the Russian-Serbian council for bilateral trade and economic cooperation on Thursday.

“Serbia is consistent (in its policy) and will not join the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions,” said Dacic, who is also Serbia’s first deputy prime minister. He stressed that the bilateral economic relations should reach the level of political ties between Moscow and Belgrade.

To this aim, economic cooperation needs to be advanced, Dacic said, expressing confidence that the work of the bilateral intergovernmental commission will yield the result.

Serbia is tankful to Russia for its veto on the resolution on Srebrenica in the UN Security Council, and also for Moscow’s support during the voting against Kosovo’s membership in the United Nations, he added.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin noted that Russia and Serbia have been consistently developing relations within the framework of strategic partnership and traditional friendship. He recalled that Moscow and Belgrade maintain high-level contacts, also between the countries’ foreign ministries.

“For Russia, Serbia is a strategic partner in the Balkan region,” Rogozin said. Russia sees great prospects for developing cooperation in tourist, medical, construction, communications, humanitarian, banking and insurance sectors, and also in industrial cooperation, he said.

Russia’s investments in Serbia’s energy sector reach around $3 billion, Rogozin said, stressing that Moscow plans to continue investing in the country’s economy. The special focus will be made on the projects on modernizing Serbia’s railways, which can be worth more than $940 million (as part of Russia’s state loan). During the meeting, the sides discussed particular steps for continuing work on the project.