Serbia hopes to sign $1 billion no-strings loan from Russia
Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic said an expected $1 billion loan from Russia will be without political strings attached. The Serbs say the loan will be signed during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to Belgrade next week. Analysts say the loan is part of a Russian effort to upgrade its diplomatic and economic influence in the Balkans. Historically, Russian and Serbian relations, dating back to the 19th century, have been close. But Cvetkovic denied the loan was conditional on an extension of the Russian oil monopoly in Serbia until 2011. He says he opposes monopoly extension as it would jeopardise Serbia’s efforts towards joining the EU.