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Serb to ratify Russia energy deal after May poll

Serbia’s energy pact with Russia which puts the Balkan country’s oil and gas sector into the hands of Moscow will be ratified after a general election on May 11, a senior official said on Thursday.

The deal, signed in January, included Serbia in Gazprom’s South Stream gas pipeline in return for Serbia selling a majority stake of oil monopoly NIS to Gazprom Neft. The delay in the ratification has no practical effect. “The new parliament will ratify the agreement,” said Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic of the pro-Western Democratic Party after a session of the outgoing government.

The 10-month old coalition of nationalists and pro-Western liberals collapsed last month, divided over whether to pursue European Union membership despite the bloc’s support for the breakaway Kosovo province, which seceded in February. Russia was Serbia’s main ally in trying to keep Kosovo, and backs Belgrade in blocking the territory’s entry into the United Nations. The energy pact was seen by some analysts and politicians as a Serbian concession in return for Russia’s help. (Reuters)