Pro-Western outgoing president Boris Tadic has won Serbia's presidential election runoff on Sunday, narrowly. The EU's Slovenian presidency called the election "free and fair."
The EU's Slovenian presidency congratulated pro-Western Boris Tadic's victory in the Serbian presidential election Sunday, saying it reflected the country's democratic resolve to join the bloc.
The EU presidency said the election was apparently "free and fair".
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, "emphasised that the outcome of the Serbian presidential elections should also be understood as the reflection of the wishes and resolve of democratic forces to further Serbia on its path towards membership of the European Union."
Jansa also expressed "his firm belief that Serbia would very soon succeed in meeting the criteria required in order to proceed along this path," the EU presidency statement added.
The Slovenia PM "congratulated Mr Boris Tadic on his victory."
Tadic, who campaigned on European Union-backed prosperity, had 51.1 percent of the vote acording to initial results against 47.2 percent for Tomislav Nikolic, an ultra-nationalist who favours greater links to Russia, said the electoral commission.
The EU presidency applauded the high turnout, put at 67.7 percent according to a monitoring group, "in the, according to the preliminary assessment, free and fair elections".
In another statement the EU presidency also encouraged Belgrade "to implement vigorously the reforms necessary for advancing the Stabilisation and Association process," the first formal step towards EU membership.
For this it stressed the "key importance of achieving full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague.
Last month the Netherlands blocked EU attempts to sign the SAA with Serbia.
The Dutch insist the Serbs must first bring former Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic -- indicted for genocide over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre -- to trial in The Hague.
Mladic is indicted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide over the massacre of nearly 8,000 Muslims in the Bosnian town. Dutch UN peacekeepers were accused of standing by and letting the slaughter happen.
"The EU wishes to deepen its relationship with Serbia and to accelerate its progress towards the EU, including candidate status," The EU presidency said.
The statements made no mention of the other Serbian issue currently high on the EU's agenda, the awaited declaration of independence from the breakaway republic of Kosovo.
Belgrade, along with Moscow, has strongly opposed independence for Kosovo, a move which is supported by most EU nations as well as the United States.
Last week the 27 EU nations finalised preparations for a civilian mission to help ease Kosovo's transition to independence, which could be deployed in coming days.
It will number around 1,800 people, most of them police and justice experts, one diplomat said.
While Tadic has insisted that Kosovo should remain part of Serbia, he was seen as an easier partner to deal with than Nikolic.
Date created : 2008-02-04