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Challenger maintains pressure on Serb president

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Challenger maintains pressure on Serb president

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Serbian presidential election rivals Boris Tadic and Tomislav Nikolic clashed on the Kosovo question in a TV debate last night. Polls indicate President Tadic won the encounter but his lead remains slender and the vote could go either way.

Nikolic has moved to shed his ultra-nationalist image with a softer line on national issues and has pledged to battle corruption. He says he favours EU membership but only on Serbia’s terms. He has indicated he will forge closer ties with Russia if Brussels recognizes an independent Kosovo.

For the international community, this election amounts to a referendum on which direction Serbia will take in the future. While it is a fundamental issue for ordinary Serbs, they also want the economy and living conditions in the country to be given top priority.