Far-right leader praises Serbia's ties with Russia

AP News
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Posted: Nov 15, 2014 10:43 AM
Far-right leader praises Serbia's ties with Russia

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Three days after being temporarily released from a U.N. war crimes court for health reasons, Serbia far-right leader Vojislav Seselj told about 10,000 supporters on Saturday that his Balkan country must scrap EU integration and turn entirely to Russia.

The Serbian firebrand, accused of recruiting notorious paramilitary forces during the Balkan wars, also said he wants to regroup his ultranationalist party to force an early election next year and "wipe away the pro-Europeans."

"We want integration with Russia. We do not want the European Union. That is where our enemies are," Seselj told his supporters, some of whom carried posters of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Serbia has sought to balance its bid to become a member of the European Union and to maintain its close relations with Russia, its traditional Slavic ally. In a sign of close ties with Moscow, Serbia last month gave the visiting Putin a hero's welcome, organizing a military parade to his honor. On Friday the nation's two armies held a joint military exercise in north Serbia.

Seselj said "Serbia must set a clear path and decide between east and west," adding: "We must show sincerely we are for Russia."

He returned home on Wednesday after the tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, Netherlands, released him for medical treatment. Serbian doctors who visited the 60-year-old say he is suffering from colon cancer that has spread to his liver.

Seselj has been in custody since 2003, charged as part of a criminal plot to drive out non-Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia during the conflict. Judges have delayed passing a verdict several times because of different legal obstacles.