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28 June 2004 -- Serbia's newly elected president, Boris Tadic, has hailed his victory as a triumph over the "dark policies" of the country's past.

Initial results show Tadic, a pro-Western reformist, winning more than 53 percent of the 27 June runoff vote. His challenger, Tomislav Nikolic of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party and ally of former President Slobodan Milosevic, reportedly garnered 45 percent of ballots.

Tadic, chief of the Democratic Party, pledged to move Serbia toward integration with the European Union and to strive for membership in NATO.

"I really believe these elections are very important in terms of new political values in Serbia. I'm a pro-European candidate, which means that I'm for new political values here," Tadic said.

Tadic also pledged Serbia's cooperation with the UN war crimes tribunal.

Javier Solana, the EU's foreign- and security-policy chief, said "the people of Serbia have clearly expressed their desire for a European future for Serbia." He urged Belgrade to "seize the opportunity to revitalize the process of political and economic reforms, to promote friendship and reconciliation with their neighbors, and to fulfill international obligations."

Nikolic blamed his loss on Serbian politicians and Western countries, whom he said had spread fear that Serbia could return to international isolation if he won.

(Reuters/AP/AFP/dpa)
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