MOSCOW, October 11 (RIA Novosti) - Serbia is preparing to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the liberation of Belgrade in WWII with the first military parade in 29 years, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic said on Saturday.
“We have held no parade for the past 29 or 30 years, I reckon. Now it’s time to organize a military parade. We’ve decided to make it bigger. For instance, the supreme commander-in-chief of the Russian Armed Forces is attending, as did marshal Georgy Zhukov and General Vladimir Zhdanov back in 1944. The supreme commander of the Serbian Armed Forces will also be present. It is not an exception or something special,” said Nikolic, who appeared on the Vesti v Subbotu (Vesti on Saturday) show on a Russian TV channel.
The Serbian president said that a famous Russian aerobatics display team, Strizhi (Swifts), will take part in the parade. The Russian Air Force stunt team is expected to fly six MiG-29 Fulcrum fourth-generation fighter jets.
“There will be planes and machinery – everything that we have. Actually a portion of what we have, as well as a Russian aerobatics team, Strizhi,” Nikolic said.
The Serbian president stressed that, to his nation, Russia was a synonym of a common past, present and future.
“We have common origins, language, faith, customs and culture. We were on the same side in all wars, and the both world wars were about the Serbs’ survival as a nation,” Nikolic said.
“Of course, we were not always quick on the uptake when it came to understanding each other in a time of peace, as it was, for instance, in the 1990s, starting with the fall of Yugoslavia. The Soviet Union, Russia were too busy dealing with their own problems to realize what was really going on in Yugoslavia. Russia even voted to impose sanctions against Yugoslavia [in the UN Security Council], the kind that is now in place against Russia. It’s regrettable that Russia did not have a president like it does now,” Nikolic said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to Serbia on October 16. He is expected to meet with President Nicolic and Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic to discuss “key issues of bilateral cooperation, first of all in the trade and economic sphere," according to the Kremlin.
The trip is timed to the 70th anniversary of Belgrade’s liberation from Nazi Germany’s occupation. President Putin is expected to attend a solemn ceremony, in what Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier described as the “central event” of the president’s visit.