Saturday

24th Jun 2017

Eurovision winner's links to Serb radical worries Brussels

The EU has expressed concern after Serbian pop star appointed as European ambassador for intercultural dialogue has shown support for the country's Radical candidate for the presidential elections.

Marija Serifovic, who won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007, was selected as one of 15 EU ambassadors for the European year of intercultural dialogue – an initiative launched by the European Commission in 2008.

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However, the singer now appears to support Tomislav Nikolic, the eurosceptic nationalist candidate of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), who won the first round of the Serbian presidential elections last Sunday (20 January).

Ms Serifovic participated in rallies organised by Mr Nikolic, including one in December in the Serbian town of Kragujevac and one on 15 January in Belgrade, singing her winning song, "Molitva" (Prayer).

On Thursday (24 January) the European Commission expressed concern regarding Ms Serifovic's ties with the radical party.

The commission "will examine whether there is evidence of Ms Serafovic making statements which run counter to the aims of the European year of intercultural dialogue in which case we have to review her further activities as an ambassador for the European year", John Macdonald, a spokesman for the EU executive, said.

"Her political affiliation and activities in no way express the political position of the EU in the context of the Serbian presidential elections which are a matter for the people of Serbia", he added.

She was also seen next to Mr Nikolic at the celebrations following the SRS candidate's victory last Sunday.

"This is a prayer for a different and above all a more honest Serbia," the singer had said after performing "Molitva" at the December rally, according to Serbian news site Press Online.

At that same event, Mr Nikolic had vowed Serbia would only join the EU as an integral state – including Kosovo as part of its territory, and had called the forthcoming elections decisive for "Serbia's fate".

He also recently told French daily Le Monde that "Brussels does not respect us [Serbia] and we are therefore under the obligation to turn ourselves to Russia," adding that cutting ties with the EU would not be "a big loss" for Belgrade anyway, as "all we lose are European funds."

The second round of the elections will take place on 3 February, with Mr Nikolic facing the current pro-Western president of Serbia, Boris Tadic.

The elections are viewed as crucial for the country's further EU integration process.

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