BELGRADE – Serbia’s Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic thinks the EU “does not look kindly on Serbia’s cooperation with Russia and China,” B92 reported.

At the same time, remarked Dacic, who is also Serbia’s first deputy prime minister, the EU itself cooperates with these countries.

Speaking on Tuesday in Belgrade at the international conference “The Belt and the Road – Balkan Perspective,” Dacic said that Serbia’s trade exchange with Russia dropped by 25 percent last year, and that this was “an obvious consequence that should be stopped.”

According to Dacic, quoted by the Beta agency, the United States has increased its trade with Russia by 25 percent.

Tanjug reported that Dacic said Serbia’s trade with Russia last year was “down by 25 pct irrespective of the fact that Serbia has not imposed sanctions on Russia, while trade with the U.S. grew.”

“It would not be fair and it would not be friendly for us to sever our excellent relations with Russia and China,” he said , stressing that Serbia “wants to be on the European path.”

The minister then jokingly brought up the Montenegrin saying, “there’s 200 million of us and Russians” – to say that due to Serbia’s good relations with China, Serbians could now say, “there’s 1.26 billion of us and the Chinese.”

Chinese Ambassador Li Manchang was taking part in the same conference, stating in his address that the two countries should continue working on infrastructure projects and on increasing their trade.

Both Dacic and Li stressed the importance of the upcoming Summit of Prime Ministers of China and Central and Eastern European Countries in Riga, Latvia, when agreements will be signed designed to further strengthen the Serbia-China ties.