Macedonia and Russia hail new chapter in relations

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday said Moscow planned to intensify its cooperation with Skopje including possibly joining the Southstream pipeline project.

Lavrov and his Macedonian counterpart Antonio Milososki agreed to regular consultations between their two ministries which the Russian minister hailed as "a step further for better cooperation in the international field".

The talks also focused on the Russian- backed Southstream pipeline project which is due to pump gas from southern Russia to the Balkans and onwards to other European countries.

The pipeline is projected to run through Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Hungaria and Slovenia and Lavrov told journalists that a Gazprom delegation had visited Macedonia last year to study prospects for joining the project.

Milososki stressed that the decision on the project would be based on "economic and energy efficiency."

Trade between Russia and Macedonia totaled 579 million dollars (399 million euros) in 2010, up 12 percent from the previous year.

Russian investment in Macedonia stands at some 300 million dollars, mainly in the energy and mining sectors.

© 2011 AFP

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