The Macedonian Tendency: Macedonia and Russia - Meeting of Minds

Monday, June 25, 2007

Macedonia and Russia - Meeting of Minds

Crvenkovski - Putin: Macedonia and Russia foster excellent political ties:
Monday, 25 June 2007

Political ties between Macedonia and the Russian Federation are correct and at high level, which is not he case with the economic relations and trade exchange, said both presidents of Macedonia and Russia, Branko Crvenkovski and Vladimir Putin respectively, after their Zagreb meeting on Sunday following the Energy Summit of SEE heads of state, which was attended by the Russian President.The Macedonian President extended remarks with regard to the trade exchange between the countries, which in 2006 amounted over Dollar 500 million - 30% increase compared to 2005.

- Although the trade exchange between both countries is making headway, the direct Russian investments in Macedonia are insignificant i.e. $15 million investments for 2006, which is $5 million higher than in 2005, said Crvenkovski, adding that approximately 90% of the exchange would be in benefit of the Russian firms, whereas 80% of the exchange would go to the import of energy from Russia to Macedonia.

The Russian President said that they were envisaging to invest over $180 million to Macedonia, unless "they find a good partner".

- There's letter of intent for "Gasprom" investments in Macedonia, while we also bid for TEC "Negotino", said Putin, underlying that the Inter-Governmental Commission for Cooperation between Russia and Macedonia should convene more frequently.

Crvenkovski highlighted there were no political obstacles for the small number of Russian investments in Macedonia. Instead. they were due to the weak administrative capacity and bureaucratic procedures.

- I would like to emphasise that we are willing to invite "Gasprom" to join the gasification of the Republic of Macedonia, to assist us even with a concept since we have no previous experiences, said Crvenkovski, adding that firstly the Russian investors should enter the sphere of energy, which would trigger the resumption of cooperation in other spheres.

Putin said he would notify the "Gasprom" management of the Macedonian offer as soon as possible. Moreover, he showed interest in the political process in Macedonia after 2001, as well as in Macedonia's position regarding the Kosovo issue.

- There's no forcible alteration of the borders and we pledge for observation of the international standards, Putin reiterated the Russia's position, emphasising that Russia backed the integration of the Balkans countries into EU.

Crvenkovski said Macedonia, being candidate country for EU-NATO membership, was obliged to be in compliance with Russia's official position. Nevertheless, "we would be content unless mutually acceptable solution on the Kosovo issue will be reached", he said.

The Southeast Europe region has no sufficient quantity of commodities that could be offered at the markets of the countries, which are the biggest energy exporters. Furthermore, construction of an energy infrastructure in the region is a must. These were the two major conclusions of the Energy Summit of SEE heads of state, which were outlined on Sunday by the president of the Croatian Economic Chamber, Nadan Vidosevic.

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