Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tomislav Nikolić

Tomislav "Toma" Nikolić (Serbian Cyrillic: Томислав Николић; born 15 February 1952) is a Serbian politician, President of the Serbian Progressive Party. He is also a former member of the Serbian Radical Party, where he served as deputy leader of the party and parliamentary leader during the absence of Vojislav Šešelj. During his leadership of the party, Nikolić favored pushing the SRS towards focusing on issues such as poverty and unemployment, rather than militant nationalism. Nikolić held this post from 23 February 2003 to 6 September 2008, when he resigned following a disagreement with Šešelj regarding Serbia's relations with the European Union. Nikolić then formed the Serbian Progressive Party, which several SRS politicians joined.

He served as President of the National Assembly of Serbia between 8 and 13 May 2007 and was Deputy Prime Minister of FR Yugoslavia in the coalition government from 1999 to 2000. Nikolić ran for the President of Yugoslavia in the 2000 elections and placed third. As a perennial candidate he also ran three times for the President of Serbia (in 2003, 2004 and 2008 elections). In 2003 he garnered the most votes, but the election was cancelled due to low turnout. In 2004 and 2008 he placed second, behind Boris Tadić.

Nikolić has published thirteen books as of 2005[update]. He and his wife Dragica (née Ninković) have two sons. Nikolić became a candidate for the 2012 Serbian Presidential Elections, after the resignation of former president Boris Tadić. His campaign literature promised that he would be a non-political head of state who would unite all citizens, as did a speech by his colleague, Aleksandar Vučić.

Nikolić was born in Kragujevac. In the 1990s, he became a member of the People's Radical Party, which merged with the Serbian Chetnik Movement to form the Serbian Radical Party. Nikolić became a member of the new party on 23 January 1991. He was soon elected the party's vice-president, and at the last three Congresses of Serbian Radicals he was elected deputy president. He has been a deputy in the National Assembly of Serbia since 1991, the only one to be elected continuously since that year. During the rule of Slobodan Milošević and the Socialist Party of Serbia, he and Šešelj were sentenced to three months in prison which he served in Gnjilane. However, in March 1998 Nikolić's Serbian Radical Party formed a coalition with the Socialist Party of Serbia and Nikolić became the vice-president of the Government of Serbia and, by the end of 1999, the vice-president of the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Parliamentarians elected Nikolić the Speaker of Parliament on 8 May 2007, defeating Milena Milošević of the Democratic Party by 142 to 99 votes out of 244 members of Parliament. The Democratic Party of Serbia endorsed him. Hajredin Kuci of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, Ylli Hoxha of the Reformist Party ORA, and Prime Minister of Kosovo Agim Çeku condemned the election of Nikolić as "counterproductive and dangerous for Kosovo". On 9 May, Nikolić met with Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Alekseyev and gave a speech to Parliament in which he advocated making Serbia part of a Belarus-Russia superstate, saying that together they would "stand up against the hegemony of America and the European Union."

He resigned from his position as speaker on 15 May after the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Serbia formed a preliminary alliance in preparation for a coalition government. He was the Speaker with the shortest mandate in the history of parliamentary democracy in the Balkans. Nikolić told the Democratic parties that if they "peacefully accept" the independence of Kosovo the Radical Party "will not sit calmly and wait".

On 28 February 2003, about 20 days before the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić, Nikolić said: "If anyone of you, in the following month or two, sees Zoran Đinđić, tell him that Tito also had a problem with a leg before his death". Nikolić stated that Serbian president Boris Tadić was an Ustasha, and that he was not sorry for the death of Serbian journalist Slavko Ćuruvija. His public statements include that he still dreams about Greater Serbia as a state where all Serbs will once live in, and that Russian troops should be allowed to build a military base in Serbia at the strategic location Pasuljanske livade.

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