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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 December, 2003, 12:37 GMT
Serb Radical outlines ambitions
Tomislav Nikolic
Tomislav Nikolic: Hopes for Greater Serbia
The Serbian Radical Party has become the biggest force in Serbian politics following the country's general election.

It is unlikely it will be able to form a coalition to govern the country, but already there are fears that the destructive nationalism witnessed in Serbia during the wars of the 1990s is returning.

The BBC's Matthew Price spoke to the party's vice-president, Tomislav Nikolic, to find out if this fear is justified.


Do you think the tag ultra-nationalist is a fair one for your party?

We are a Serbian national party. Most of us are Orthodox Serbs, but we also include members of other nations and other minorities... We are a party whose members love Serbia enormously. But we will never jeopardise any other nation, nobody's right to history, religion, sex, language, education in the mother tongue, the right to vote and to be voted.

We will certainly try to become an EU member - but that is not our priority
We make the division among people in two groups: decent and indecent, not the Serbs and the others.

Your leader Vojislav Seselj is on trial for war crimes in the Hague. Don't you think this sends out a bad image of your party?

That doesn't ruin the image of the party in the eyes of the voters in Serbia. Vojislav Seselj and I are the founders and builders of Serbian Radical Party... By putting him at number one on the list, we proved that we approve of his voluntary departure to The Hague, where he is defending himself...

Vojislav Seselj is not a war criminal. At the moment he is charged for committing war crimes. There is a so-called presumption of innocence - everybody is innocent until proven otherwise.

Under your leadership would Serbia seal itself off from Western Europe?

It doesn't pay for Serbia to be a closed country. The more open we are the more we will move on. But we won't co-operate with the West in a manner that makes us slaves of their daily politics.

We want to co-operate with both the East and the West. We need both the East and the West. From the West we need technology, loans, good laws, and the development of democracy; and in the East we have raw materials and a market.

Would you join the European Union?

Well, we will certainly try to become an EU member. But that is not our priority. That cannot happen in the next 10 years. We will have many vital burning issues we will have to deal with.

One day, even the Serbs will live on their property - protected so nobody can beat them, kill them
We will build up the institutions, the legal system, a tax system. And when Europe estimates we are ready to become a member of the EU, we will be a member of the EU.

Do you want the borders changed? Do you believe in a Greater Serbia?

We hope that the borders could be changed some day, but before that we hope the dream of any citizen of the globe will be fulfilled. That is, to live in peace and safety on his property...

One day, even the Serbs will live on their property. Protected so nobody can beat them, kill them. That is our dream. And there is no war in it.

Nationalist parties have won in Bosnia, in Croatia...

Italy, Switzerland? Aren't they a problem too? The only problem is the SRP winning in Serbia?

Under your leadership would relations in the region be cooler?

It is possible that the relations will be cooler... But there will be no more wars among the small countries.


SEE ALSO:
Ultra-nationalists top Serb poll
29 Dec 03  |  Europe
Profile: Vojislav Seselj
29 Dec 03  |  Europe
Serbia vote: Parties and players
24 Dec 03  |  Europe
Country profile: Serbia and Montenegro
14 Dec 03  |  Country profiles


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