Serbia’s new president takes oath of office


BELGRADE — Tomislav Nikolić was on Thursday in Belgrade sworn in in front of the Serbian parliament, officially taking over as Serbia’s new president.

Nikolić won in the second round of the presidential election on May 20, defeating Boris Tadić, who sought his third term in office.

The special parliament session in Belgrade today was attended by former presidents Milan Milutinović and Boris Tadić, military and police officials, political, public and religious figures, and members of the diplomatic corps.

Head of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC), Patriarch Irinej, was also in attendance.

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Today’s ceremony marks the beginning of the five-year term for Nikolić as head of state.

The text the oath of office was as follows:

“I swear to invest all my powers in the preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Serbia, including Kosovo and Metohija, its integral part, as well as in the realization of human and minority rights and freedoms, respect and defense of the Constitution and laws, preservation of peace and prosperity of all citizens of the Republic of Serbia, and that I will carry out all my duties in a conscientious and responsible manner.”

The national anthem, Bože Pravde (God of Justice) was sounded afterwards, followed by the new president signing the text of the oath.

MP Zaharije Trnavčević – who acts as temporary speaker in the new parliament, constituted earlier on Thursday – then congratulated Nikolić on the start of his term in office.

Nikolić will be inaugurated as Serbia’s president in a ceremony on June 11.

The country’s new leader arrived to the parliament building today accompanied by his wife Dragica Nikolić and other members of their family.

Some 3,000 citizens, supporters of the Serb Progressive Party (SNS), gathered outside the building to welcome him with applause.

They were carrying state and party flags, while a Macedonian flag was also spotted in the crowd.

Those gathered also welcomed the arrival of DSS leader Vojislav Koštunica and Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Konuzin with applause, while they booed when Boris Tadić, PM Mirko Cvetković, LDP leader Čedomir Jovanović , “and some other ambassadors” appeared, and chanted, “thieves, thieves”.

“EU, and Kosovo”

In his first address to MPs after he was sworn in as the country’s new president, Nikolić said he would fight for Serbia to become a full-fledged member of the EU that will never renounce its sovereignty and integrity and its Kosovo and Metohija.

He stated that he saw Serbia as “a house with two doors”, turned toward the East and the West, an EU member that will never give up Kosovo, and told MPs that they will have his cooperation if they fight for the benefit of the citizens.

“If you fight for the people, I will support you with all the strength given to me by the Constitution,” said the president.

Nikolić expressed his gratitude to the citizens who voted for him in the election, and especially those who have been supporting him for the past two decades:

“I have been in opposition for 20 years, and often I was the victim of injustice. For that reason, I will never stop fighting for Serbia to be ruled by law, a just state, freed from organized crime and corruption.”

He warned that the country was being torn by a crisis, while the citizens had lost faith in institutions. According to Nikolić, the justice system reform was carried out according to partisan interests, while the media have been put under control.

“Irresponsible privatizations, pillaging of people’s assets, corruption and crime, have all created a sense of insecurity and mistrust in institutions,” he continued, noting that monopolists were present “everywhere”, while the citizens “paid the price”:

“I want a different Serbia. I will not stop fighting until Serbia wins over crime and becomes a state ruled by law, a just and democratic state.”

Speaking to reporters after the ceremony today, Nikolić said that the talks between Belgrade and Priština “can continue right away “and that he will propose “a consensus-based solution for the Kosovo and Metohija problem on Monday”.

He added that after his June 14 trip to the EU headquarters in Brussels – where he is to meet with “the most important people there” – he would “convey the essence of the talks to the Serbian citizens”.

“Whatever new I learn in Brussels I will immediately share with the Serbian citizens,” Nikolić said.