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Serbia's Tadic Vows EU Integration if Reelected President

RIA Novosti

18:22 03/05/2012 BELGRADE, May 3 (RIA Novosti) - Serbia's Boris Tadic, who stepped down as president last month ahead of May elections, said on Thursday he would keep Serbia on the path to European integration if elected to a third term.

“Our policy is for progress on the European ladder: we’ve received EU candidate status, now we should begin accession talks,” he told Serbian National Television RTS.

Serbians will vote in presidential, parliamentary and local elections on May 6. In order for all the elections to be held on the same day, Tadic stepped down on April 6, announcing his candidacy for re-election on the same day.

He currently has a slight lead in the polls over his conservative opponent, Tomislav Nikolic, whose Serbian Progress Party (SNS) leads by a few points over Tadic's Democratic Party.

Serbia officially received EU candidate status in early March, but opinion polls show that more than 50 percent of Serbians oppose EU membership.

Tadic is also unpopular with nationalists, who blame him for Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence in February 2008.

However, Tadic said: “There will be no prospects for economic development if Serbia does not maintain the policy it has been pursuing over the past four years.”

“I believe we are on the right path, on the path of steady development,” he said, adding that he would adhere to the regional and foreign policy principles established in his first two terms.

“These elections are crucial for the country’s development over the next ten years, taking into account the economy, foreign policy trends and the challenges Serbia has faced over the years.”

Citizens must choose between “continuity in the policy of reform and progress” that he offers and “uncertainty that would be terrible for the Serbian society.”

A staunch supporter of Serbia’s European Union membership, Tadic has made a number of political concessions including permission for Kosovo to take part in multilateral international meetings as a separate entity. Many analysts described the move as “semi-recognition” of the region’s independence from Serbia.

All polls suggest that Tadic and Nikolic are headed for a runoff election on May 20.

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