Serbia, Turkey to strengthen cooperation

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Erdogan will proceed from Ukraine to Serbia for an official meeting with President Aleksandar Vucic, at the latter's invitation, the Turkish president's press office said on Saturday. Serbia was ruled for nearly 500 years by the Ottoman Empire.

"This is not 1389, but 2017", Vucic said, referring to the year when the Ottoman occupation of Serbia started.

Vucic recalled also that Serbia "always expresses its sympathies with the victims of acts of terrorism, and its readiness to fight against terrorism together".

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"This visit is meant to build up political ties between the two countries". "Today, Serbia considers Turkey as its friend". Serbia is Russia's closest ally in the Balkans. Erdogan said they should target $5 billion and signed deals with Vucic to expand a free trade agreement to include sunflower oil and beef.

Turkey wants to tackle the terrorist threat in the Middle East jointly with other members of the global community, and this is what the Turkish president tried to underline during his recent speech, political expert Mazhar Bagli said.

On Wednesday, the Turkish leader will visit the town of Novi Pazar in southwestern Serbia.

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Arriving on Monday evening after a one-day official visit to Ukraine, Erdogan will spend Tuesday and Wednesday in the Balkan country.

Focus on the discussions will be economic themes, energy projects and more specifically "Turkish Stream".

Some 70 Turkish companies do business in Serbia and trade exchanges are expected to reach $1 billion this year.

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The Belgrade-based daily Blic is reporting on Tuesday that the visit will pass under unprecedented security measures, that will "put to shame" those that had been in place for the visits of top Russian and United States officials.

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