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7/1/04 - REFORMER WINS SERBIAN ELECTION - 2004-07-02


The leader of Serbia’s Democratic Party, Boris Tadic, has been elected Serbia’s president. Mr. Tadic defeated Tomislav Nikolic, the candidate of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party. The election was noteworthy, first of all, for the fact that its results were valid: Serbia’s previous three presidential elections were declared invalid because not enough eligible voters turned out.

This election was also noteworthy for the clear-cut difference between the two candidates. Mr. Nikolic is strongly anti-Western. A former ally of ousted Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, he pledged not to force wanted Serbs to surrender to the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal. Mr. Milosevic is on trial before that tribunal, charged with crimes connected to the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s. Mr. Nikolic indicated that he wanted to regain control over the Serbian province of Kosovo, which has been under U-N administration since 1999.

Democratic Party candidate Boris Tadic campaigned on integrating with Euro-Atlantic institutions and developing a market economy tying Serbia to the European Union. He also said that he “respects” U-N Resolution 1244, which established the U-N protectorate in Kosovo. Mr. Tadic said he plans to open a new round of talks on Kosovo’s future:

“We have to negotiate about Kosovo and we respect Resolution 1244;[there is] no question about that.”

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli welcomed the results of Serbia’s presidential election:

“The United States congratulates Boris Tadic on his victory in the presidential elections in Serbia, and we applaud the Serbian people on their participation in the democratic process. The United States government looks forward to working with President Tadic, as well as with Prime Minister [Vojislav] Kostunica, and the other democratic leaders of Serbia.”

This election, said U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli, “represents another step in the democratic reforms the Serbian people started in October 2000.”

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