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21 Jan, 2008 08:21

Nationalist wins Serb 1st round

Hardline nationalist, Tomislav Nikolic, has won the first round of Serbia's Presidential election after the largest turnout in nearly a decade. He will now face current President Boris Tadic in a run-off election on February 3.

The eventual winner will need to gain 50 percent of the vote to be elected President.

Observers were surprised by the voter turnout, at over 60%.

The controversial issue of Kosovan independence was one of the principle factors in getting people to the polls.

Nikolic's nationalistic policies are thought to have appealed to voters who feel a growing frustration at Western backing for the region's independence. 

While the Tadic campaign's “Both Kosovo and the EU” slogan is thought to have lost him the support of those opposed to the separation of Kosovo. 

Tomislav Nikolic says there's no chance of Serbia ever recognising the independence of Kosovo.

“According to the UN Charter Kosovo and Metohija are inherent parts of the Serbian state. We have the right to have precise borders recognized by the UN. The wish of Albanians to gain independence has neither historical nor legal basis. None of Serbia's politicians will ever be bold enough to agree to the separation of Kosovo. For us it's a red line which may not be overstepped,” Tomislav Nikolic stressed.

Tomislav Nikolic says he doesn't want to attack anyone, but would always protect the interests of his people.  “I love my people, I love Russia and will not let anyone humiliate my nation; derogate the dignity of Serbian people, their sovereignty and independence. We do not want any conflicts or confrontation with the West. But the West should respect our will and our independence and should not trample on our interests,” he stressed.