Belgrade, Serbia. Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on his landslide victory in the Serbian presidential election. Vucic’s victory Sunday could expand Russia’s influence in the Balkans according to concerned EU officials.
Prior to the election, Vucic went to Moscow to visit Putin, who endorsed him. Putin reportedly has promised his signature on the delivery of fighter planes, battle tanks and armored vehicles to Serbia.The move has triggered fears of an arms race in the war-weary Balkans among nervous EU officials
Russia’s TASS news agency quoted Putin as saying “your convincing election win points to wide popular support for your efforts aimed at solving pressing economic and social tasks facing Serbia, as well as pursuing a meaningful and balanced foreign policy.”
European Union officials overseeing the bloc’s enlargement say Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic has a duty to use his powers wisely after he swept the country’s presidential election.EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn said Monday that Vucic has a “certain responsibility” in light of Sunday’s polls “to use this strong support by the citizens in a careful way.”
Hahn told reporters that he was comforted by Vucic’s early assurances that “he will fully respect the constitutional framework, and I trust him.” While Vucic has said he wants to lead Serbia into the EU, he has been pushing for deeper ties to longtime ally Russia.
A near-complete official vote count of Serbia’s presidential election has confirmed that Vucic won by a landslide in the first round of voting.The State Election Commission said Monday after counting 91 percent of ballots that Vucic won 55 percent of votes, followed by liberal candidate Sasa Jankovic with 16 percent, and Luka Maksimovic, a parody politician, with 9 percent.
The triumph at Sunday’s balloting presents a major boost for Vucic who is now expected to further tighten his already firm grip on power in Serbia.