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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

EU's Solana Pushes for Serbian Coalition

BRUSSELS -- European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana urged the rapid formation of a Serbian government on Monday and put a brave face on the success of hard-line nationalists in key elections.

"The majority voted for forces that are democratic and pro-European," Solana said as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers to discuss the 27-member bloc's strategy toward Belgrade in the light of the vote.

"I hope very much there will be a speedy formation of a government that will be on the line of pro-European forces," he told reporters, denying the vote had demonstrated the failure of Western efforts to quell nationalist feelings in Serbia.

The hard-line Radical Party attracted most support in the election, scoring 28 percent. But there was no certainty as to whether it could form a government.

The result nonetheless cast a pall over EU and U.S. hopes that they would have a progressive Serb government to deal with when the future of breakaway Kosovo was decided and Serbia's EU membership hopes, currently frozen, were reassessed.

The West made clear to Serbs before the election that they should turn their backs on nationalism if they hoped to join the EU and NATO and make up for a decade of isolation, war and sanctions under the late autocrat Slobodan Milosevic.

But many appeared to have rebuffed those appeals. The West's great hope, Serbian President Boris Tadic, led his opposition Democratic Party to about 23 percent of the vote, nearly double its score in the 2003 poll, but well behind the Radical Party.

But despite finishing first in Monday's election, the ultranationalist Radical Party does not expect to be invited to form the next government.

Deputy Radical Party Leader Tomislav Nikolic said he did not expect that Tadic would "give us the mandate."

"Tadic already said last night that he would not respect the democratic principle and he would not give a mandate to the Serbian Radical Party," Nikolic said in an interview.

He said the pro-Western parties would have a difficult time forming a coalition and forecast that it would be short lived.