Republic of Macedonia has special interest in building and enhancing friendly relations with the Russian Federation, which is a relevant factor at the international stage but also a proven traditional partner, says Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki in an interview with Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.
Pertaining to his assessment of Macedonia-Russia bilateral relations and the direction of their development, Poposki expresses satisfaction that regular communication and contacts among countries' government officials is continually enhanced. He also refers to the dynamic development and cooperation in the fields of culture, education, science and tourism exchange, accompanied by series of events resulting from joint projects in the course of 2011, as well as the signing of several inter-governmental agreements.
"We are interested in intensifying economic cooperation in the coming period, along with trade exchange and attraction of direct investments from Russia. Despite the unfavorable global economic trends, we believe there is room for increase of the volume of bilateral economic relations through mutual efforts and will", says Poposki.
He also expects continuation of cooperation in the international field, especially within the UN, on most vital issues related to international peace and development, fight against global terrorism, humanitarian issues etc.
FM Poposki also stressed the importance of last year's visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, seen as a concrete gesture of friendship, but also investment in enhancing common goals for the region's security.
"Moreover, it has been announced that Macedonia will be part of strategic gas pipeline project 'South Stream', which is expected to contribute to the development of numerous industrial branches and energy in general", says Poposki.
He adds that a high-level visit to the Russian Federation is to be realized in the course of this year, focusing on political bilateral issues, but also possibilities for strengthening of economic cooperation.
"We are also planning several ministerial visits, resulting in the signing of agreements over the opening of cultural-information centers, recognition of countries' diplomas, as well as other issues of mutual interest", says Poposki.
Regarding the facilitation of the visa regime for Russian nationals, Minister Poposki stresses the joint goal and commitment is facilitation of movement for citizens of both countries.
"The prior practice of annulling visas for Russian nationals in period March-October has proved to be beneficial, and we expect a similar move from the Russian Federation for our citizens. In addition, the two countries have enforced the agreement on conditions for mutual travel of Macedonian and Russian nationals. We have submitted specific proposals to our Russian counterparts and we expect their response", he says.
According to Poposki, the agreement provides the opportunity for visa-free travel of Russian tourists in Macedonia in the course of the entire year just be presenting a travel voucher and a confirmation over the acceptance of the foreign tourist by the travel organization.
"There is will on our part to facilitate the visa regime and we are ready to invest efforts in this regard towards making a step forward over this issue", underlines Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki in the ITAR-TASS interview.