21:05 GMT +314 November 2018
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    Tadic suits everyone but problems remain

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    MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti international commentator Ivan Zakharchenko) - Serbian and EU flags waved by thousands of jubilant people in the streets of Belgrade have signaled Boris Tadic's re-election for the second presidential term.

    Tadic wants to steer his country, the backbone of former Yugoslavia, towards joining the European Union, and break its current isolation. A Democratic Party nominee, Tadic has won a second round election run-off against the leader of the Serbian Radical Party Tomislav Nikolic, who was the winner in the first round two weeks ago.

    Tadic declared that Serbia has shown itself as a democracy, and has chosen Europe. The EU hailed the results of the elections in Serbia, and wished Tadic early EU entry. On February 7, Serbia and the EU are expected to sign an agreement on closer trade contacts and simpler visa procedures as a first step to the former's European future.

    However, it is not clear what to do about Kosovo, a rebellious Serbian province with a population of two million people - an overwhelming majority of Albanians and a mere 100,000 Serbs.

    Supported by the EU and the United States, Albanians are seeking independence despite Serbia's objections. An opponent of Kosovo's cessation, President Tadic will have to come to terms with the Europeans, and search for compromise. The Kosovo Albanians are going to declare independence unilaterally, and the EU is ready to back them. Analysts believe that the conflict between Serbia and Kosovo is breeding tensions next to the EU, and that Kosovo's separation from Serbia will resolve this old problem. The EU is not too enthusiastic about admitting the Kosovo Albanians. If the Europeans agree to Serbia's entry, they would leave Albanians behind for fear of their high crime rate. Though, nobody can guarantee that the proclamation of Kosovo's independence will resolve all problems.

    Independent Kosovo will require huge financial injections into its economy. Nobody can estimate how much assistance Kosovo will require, and for how long. Stabilization is impossible without normal economic development.

    The EU and U.S. support for Kosovo's independence is also linked with apprehensions about Russia's bid for "stronger influence" in the Balkans. Western analysts believe that the closer Serbia is to Europe, the further it will be from Russia.

    They seem to forget that Russia has repeatedly stated its position - it will only support those decisions that will suit both sides of the conflict - Serbs and Albanians. Moscow objects to unilateral steps. For this reason, it is not quite appropriate to interpret Tadic's victory as Moscow's "defeat." Head of the European Studies Center at IMEMO (Institute of World Economy and International Relations at the Russian Academy of Sciences) Vladimir Gutnik believes that Nikolic's victory would have meant more headaches for Russia.

    "Backing a radical policymaker means straining relations with the EU," the expert said. Besides, Tadic is not exactly a pro-Western politician. He favors well-balanced relations with Russia, the United States, and the EU.

    Although Tadic is seen as a future architect of a compromise on Kosovo, his power in Serbia is rather symbolic, and in order to pursue a certain line, he has to seek coalition with the parliament-appointed prime minister.

    Analysts believe that the relations between the president and the prime minister will determine Serbia's response to the cessation of 15% of its territory. If this happens, Kosovo will become the 7th state to secede from former Yugoslavia. Moscow has warned that this precedent may cause a wave of separatism in European and other countries.

    At the same time, Serbian experts are predicting big changes in their country's political life. They are expecting Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica's resignation against the backdrop of mounting contradictions in the coalition government. The latter was formed in May 2007, following several months of negotiations.

    Shortly before the presidential elections, Kostunica refused to support Tadic, but he did not back Nikolic, either.

    Kostunica promised a sharp response to the Brussels' intention to deploy 1,800 policemen for maintaining order in Kosovo if it proclaims independence unilaterally. The press mentioned such measures as suspension of diplomatic ties with EU countries that will recognize Kosovo's independence, and a blockade of electricity and water supplies from Serbia to Kosovo.

    But Kostunica's resignation may not take place because his contradictions with Tadic on rapprochement with the EU are not that sharp. If the coalition government is faced with a threat of a split under pressure from Nikolic's supporters, Prime Minister Kostunica and President Tadic will be compelled to form an alliance.

    The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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