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Croatia's President To Face Runoff

Stipe Mesic at RFE/RL 3 January 2005 -- Croatian President Stipe Mesic will face conservative Deputy Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor in a runoff vote after missing by just one point outright victory in a presidential election.

Election officials say Mesic won a little more than 49 percent of the vote on 2 January while Kosor, of the ruling conservative Croatian Democratic Union, got 20 percent.

The two will now face off in a runoff vote on 16 January.

Mesic thanked his supporters late yesterday.

"I would like to thank all those who gave me their vote. It means that they recognize Croatia is on the right track and that we are aiming to achieve the standards of the developed world. This is what we stand for," Mesic said.

Both candidates support Croatia's efforts to join the European Union and NATO.

The president's post is largely ceremonial in Croatia. But the president does have a say in foreign policy, defense, and intelligence, and appoints the prime minister.