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Russian minister attends Belgrade parade, highlights bilateral ties

Europe
20.10.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Belgrade (dpa) - Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Belgrade on Friday to attend a military air show and again signal close ties between Moscow and the EU-membership candidate Serbia.

The Freedom 2017 parade at the Batajnica military airport showcases the six old MiG-29 fighters which Russia donated to Serbia in 2016. The aeroplanes, which need to be overhauled, will not fly. Instead, Serbia‘s own old MiG-29s, along with Yugoslav-era jets and attack helicopters, will take to the air for the parade.

The parade marks the anniversary of the 1944 liberation of Belgrade from the World War II German occupation. The Soviet Red Army was the main liberating force.

"Our fathers and grandfathers fought shoulder-to-shoulder to free Belgrade. That is especially important today, when many are trying to rewrite history," Shoigu said ahead of the parade.

Serbia is negotiating membership of the European Union, but has so far refused to join the sanctions the bloc imposed on Russia for its involvement in Ukraine.

Many in the Balkan country are hostile to the West, seeing it as biased against Belgrade during the wars in the 1990s which followed the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

In 1999, NATO bombed Serbia to end bloodshed in the mostly Albanian region of Kosovo, in an intervention which led to the secession of the province from Belgrade in 2008.

Russia, on the other hand, had backed Serbia in the wars and continues to block Kosovo‘s promotion to UN membership.

 

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