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Tomislav Nikoli%C4%87

Tomislav Nikoli?
Tomislav Nikoli?, official portrait.jpg
4th President of Serbia

31 May 2012 - 31 May 2017
Mirko Cvetkovi?
Ivica Da?i?
Aleksandar Vu?i?
Slavica ?uki? Dejanovi? (Acting)
Aleksandar Vu?i?
President of the National Assembly

8 May 2007 - 13 May 2007
Borka Vu?i? (Acting)
Milutin Mrkonji? (Acting)
Deputy Prime Minister of Yugoslavia

12 August 1999 - 9 October 2000
Momir Bulatovi?
Vuk Dra?kovi?
Miroljub Labus
Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia

24 March 1998 - 12 August 1999
Mirko Marjanovi?
Dragan Tomi?
Neboj?a ?ovi?
Personal details
Born (1952-02-15) 15 February 1952 (age 68)
Kragujevac, Yugoslavia (now Serbia)
Political partyRadical (1991-2008)
Progressive (2008-2012)
Independent (2012-present)
Spouse(s)Dragica Ninkovi?
Children2
Signature
WebsiteOfficial website

Tomislav Nikoli? (Serbian Cyrillic: ?, Serbian pronunciation: [t?misla? n?kolit]; born 15 February 1952) is a Serbian politician who served as the President of Serbia from 2012 to 2017. He is also the founder of the Serbian Progressive Party, and he led the party until his election as President. In the 2012 presidential election, he was elected to a five-year term as President in a second round of voting.

Born in village Baj?etina in Kragujevac, Nikoli? was a long-time member and MP of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS). He served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia from 1998 to 1999 and Deputy Prime Minister of FR Yugoslavia in the coalition government from 1999 to 2000. Nikoli? was the Radical Party's deputy leader from 2003, and he briefly served as the President of the National Assembly of Serbia in 2007. In 2008 he resigned following a disagreement with party leader Vojislav ?e?elj regarding Serbia's relations with the European Union, as Nikoli? became in favor of Serbia's accession to the EU, a move that was staunchly opposed by ?e?elj and his faction.[1] Nikoli? formed the Serbian Progressive Party, which several SRS members joined.

Nikoli? ran for President of Yugoslavia in the 2000 elections and placed third. He also ran four times for President of Serbia (in 2003, 2004, 2008, and 2012 elections). In 2003 he garnered the most votes, but the election was cancelled due to low turnout, while in 2004 and 2008 he was placed second behind Boris Tadi?. In 2012, he won the runoff against Tadi? to become President of Serbia.[2]

Early life

Tomislav Nikoli? was born in Kragujevac. His father, Radomir, was a labourer, and his mother, ?ivadinka (née ?okovi?), was a housewife. In his youth, he trained in athletics. He completed secondary technical school in Kragujevac. His first employment was as a cemetery supervisor.[3][4] In 1971 he began working with the building construction company "?egrap", and in 1978 he worked for the company "22 December" in Kragujevac as head of the Investment and Maintenance Department. He was also Technical Director of the Utility Services company in Kragujevac.[3] He and his wife Dragica (née Ninkovi?) have two sons.[3]

Political career

Radical Party

Nikoli? began his political career as vice-president of the People's Radical Party. Under his initiative, the People's Radical Party merged with Vojislav ?e?elj's Serbian National Renewal to form the Serbian Radical Party. ?e?elj was elected president of the new party and Nikoli? as vice-president.[5] He has been a deputy in the National Assembly of Serbia since 1991, the only one elected continuously since that year.[] In 1993 Vojislav ?e?elj bestowed on Nikoli? the title of Chetnik voivodes.[6] Under Slobodan Milo?evi? and the Socialist Party of Serbia, he and ?e?elj were sentenced to three months in prison which he served in Gnjilane. However, in March 1998 the Serbian Radical Party formed a coalition with the Socialist Party and he then 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.[]

In 2000, he began the first of several runs for the presidency of Serbia. In the FR Yugoslavia presidential election of 2000, he finished in third place behind Vojislav Ko?tunica and Slobodan Milo?evi?. He then ran in the 2003 Serbian presidential election, in which garnered the most votes in the first round (46.23%), ahead of Dragoljub Mi?unovi?, but the results were invalidated due to a low turnout of only 38.8%. Nikoli? made yet another bid for the presidency in the 2004 presidential election.[7] In the first round, he received 30.1% of the vote and Boris Tadi? received 27.3%. In the second round held on 27 June, Nikoli? lost to Tadi? by 53.7% to 45.4%. On 23 February 2003 he became the deputy leader of the party after Vojislav ?e?elj went voluntarily to the ICTY. During his leadership of the party, Nikoli? favoured pushing the party towards focusing on more economic and social issues such as poverty and unemployment, rather than militant nationalism.[]

Nikoli? was elected Speaker of Parliament on 8 May 2007, defeating Milena Milo?evi? of the Democratic Party by 142 to 99 votes out of 244 members of Parliament. The Democratic Party of Serbia endorsed him.[8] Hajredin Kuci of the Democratic Party of Kosovo, Ylli Hoxha of the Reformist Party ORA, and the Prime Minister of Kosovo Agim Çeku condemned the election of Nikoli? as "counterproductive and dangerous for Kosovo".[9] On 9 May, Nikoli? 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".[10]

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.[8][11] Nikoli? told the Democratic parties that if they "peacefully accept" the independence of Kosovo the Radical Party "will not sit calmly and wait".[11]

In 2008, he ran again for the presidency in the 2008 presidential election. His slogan was With All Heart (Serbian: ? , Svim srcem). On 20 January 2008, Nikoli? again won the first round with 39.99% of the vote. Nikoli? and incumbent Boris Tadi?, who garnered 35.39% of the vote, faced off against each other in a runoff election on 3 February. Nikoli? lost, receiving 2,197,155 or 47.97% of the vote.[12]

Nikoli? abruptly resigned from the Radical Party leadership on 6 September 2008. Serb media cited differences between Nikoli? and other members of the Radical Party hierarchy, especially party leader Vojislav ?e?elj, about how the party should react to the proposed European Union membership for Serbia.[13] In the following days Nikoli? formed a parliamentary group with a number of other Radical Party representatives called "Napred Srbijo" (Forward, Serbia).[14] Nikoli? told the press that the "old Serbian Radical Party no longer exists".[15] On 11 September 2008, ?e?elj addressed all Radical Party members in a letter. He named Nikoli? and his group as "traitors, Western puppets and agents". He also called upon all SRS members to remain loyal to the ideology of "Serbian nationalism, anti-globalism and pro-Russian politics".[16] On 12 September 2008, Nikoli? and his group were officially ejected from the Radical Party.[17] Nikoli? announced that he would form his own party.[18]

Progressive Party

Tomislav Nikoli? and Aleksandar Vu?i? at the founding convention of SNS

On 24 September 2008 he announced that his new party's name would be the Serbian Progressive Party and that the first convention would be held on 21 October.[19] The founding congress of the new party was held on 21 October 2008.[20]

On 5 February 2011, in front of the National Assembly, Nikoli? and his political supporters - Milanka Kari? (Strength of Serbia Movement, Velimir Ili? (New Serbia), Aleksandar Vulin (Movement of Socialists) and Aleksandar Vu?i? organized a protest demanding early parliamentary elections. According to an official Serbian police report there were around 55,000 people present. On 16 April 2011 Nikoli? organized a larger protest with the same request. He also started a thirst and hunger strike that morning and later moved to the national parliament. He stated that his goal was to force the then-Serbian government (led by Boris Tadi?) to hold early parliamentary elections.[21] On 17 April Tadi? came to visit Nikoli? in the latter's parliamentary chambers. Tadi? advised Nikoli? to stop striking. Nikoli?'s condition worsened, and he was taken to a private hospital. Serbia's media regularly reported on his condition. That same night his arterial tension was high (150/100 mmHg)[22] but he refused to seek intravenous therapy or medication.[22] When he realized that his hunger strike would not bring about the desired outcome, Nikoli? stepped down, citing Easter.[]

Nikoli? led the party in the 2012 parliamentary election, and he ran for president in the 2012 presidential election. His slogan was Let's Get Serbia Moving (Serbian: , Pokrenimo Srbiju). During the campaign, the issue of his education was raised, as the opposition claimed that Nikoli? obtained his master's degree under dubious circumstances in a private school. Nikoli? responded by suing the daily newspapers Blic and Kurir, demanding 4 million euros as compensation.[23]

On 6 May 2012, Nikoli? lost the first round with 25.05% of the vote. Nikoli? and incumbent Boris Tadi?, who garnered 25.31% of the vote, faced off against each other in a runoff election on 20 May. Nikoli? won, receiving 49.4% of the vote in a tally of 70% of the polling stations. Boris Tadi?, his rival in the elections, congratulated him on the victory, and stated that he hoped that Serbia would continue its progress under Nikoli?.[24]

Nikoli? resigned as leader of the Serbian Progressive Party on 24 May 2012,[25] and simultaneously quit his membership in the party, citing desire to be a president of all citizens of Serbia.[26][27]

Tomislav Nikoli? meeting Vladimir Putin in Moscow, 2016.

In late September 2013, the Belgrade gay pride parade was banned by the Serbian police for the third consecutive year following violent threats issued by right-wing groups and requests by the Serbian Orthodox Church.[28] Prior to the parade, Da?i? released a statement in which he said that homosexual behaviour was "abnormal" and that homosexuals in Serbia needed to "respect the wishes of the majority of the population" if the "majority's wish was for the parade to not take place."[29] Nikoli? subsequently issued a statement calling for "work on the organisation of next year's parade to begin immediately."[30]

President of Serbia

Nikoli? was inaugurated as the President of Serbia on 11 June 2012. Stefan Fuelle, the EU's enlargement commissioner, was the highest-ranking official to attend and many ambassadors from other countries were also present. Leaders of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Macedonia, boycotted the inauguration due to his denial of the genocide at Srebrenica and claims about Vukovar.[31][32][33]

Controversies

Chetnik Voivode

The Serbian Radical Party was founded in 1991 with Vojislav ?e?elj as president and Tomislav Nikoli? as vice president. It was sometimes described as a Chetnik party[34] oriented towards neo-fascism and striving for the territorial expansion of Serbia.[35][36] Chetniks was a World War II movement in Yugoslavia led by Dra?a Mihailovi?, who was accused of collaboration with the occupying forces and war crimes. In 1993, during Bosnian War, Nikoli? was proclaimed as Chetnik voivode (vojvoda, duke) by ?e?elj in a ceremony at Romanija mountain.[37][38]

Greater Serbia

During the 1990s and until 2008, Nikoli? repeatedly called for the creation of a Greater Serbia.[39][40] Nikoli? told a Zagreb paper in 2004 that the boundaries of Greater Serbia along the Virovitica-Karlovac-Karlobag line were not part of any imperialistic politics, but would always remain a "dream" for him and other Radical leaders.[41] He also said that he would not have diplomatic relations with Croatia because they are "occupying Serbian land".[42] In 2007, Nikoli? stated that the basis of political action in the Serbian Radical Party was the unification of Republika Srpska, Montenegro, and the Republic of Serbian Krajina with Serbia in a single Balkan state.[43] But a few days before the 2012 elections, Nikoli? told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview that the territorial integrity of neighbouring countries cannot be questioned and that his former opinions were no longer valid.[44] When asked about this change of position, he quoted a French philosopher that said "only a fool does not change his opinion."[45] In 2018, Nikoli? stated that he has supported the independence of Republika Srpska and unification with Serbia.[46]

Kosovo Albanians

During 90's, Nikoli? said in Minimaks's TV show that he would expel all Kosovo Albanians to Albania.[47] In 1999, during Kosovo War, more than 800,000 Kosovo Albanians was expelled from Kosovo by Serbian Police and the Yugoslav Army, when Nikoli? served as the Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia.

?in?i? and ?uruvija

In a remark about Serbian Prime Minister Zoran ?in?i?'s injured leg, Nikoli? said on 28 February 2003: "If anyone of you, in the following month or two, sees Zoran ?in?i? somewhere, tell him that Tito also had a problem with a leg before his death".[48] Less than two weeks later ?in?i? was assassinated in Belgrade. Nikoli? later apologized for his statement by saying that he would have never said that had he known what would happen. In contrast to ?in?i?, Nikoli? repeatedly refused to apologize for stating "I don't regret that Slavko Curuvija was murdered". (Journalist Slavko ?uruvija was murdered on 11 April 1999 in front of the door of his building.)[49][50]

Education

In 2012 Nikoli? was accused of buying a master's degree from the Faculty of Management in Novi Sad without attending a single class or exam. The allegation was based on the fact that his diploma had no stamp and that no other students recalled having seen him attend classes or exams.[51][52]

Vukovar statements

In a May 2012 interview, Nikoli? was quoted by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung to have said that ?Vukovar was a Serb city and Croats have nothing to go back to there?.[53] Croatian President Ivo Josipovi? criticized Nikoli? for this statement and conditioned future cooperation on Nikoli?'s withdrawal of the statement.[54]

The following day Nikoli?'s office issued a statement saying that Nikoli? never made any such statement and called it a ?treacherous lie?.[55] However, Michael Martens, a journalist at Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung subsequently published the audio recording showing that Nikoli? had indeed made that statement.[56]

Comments about Srebrenica massacre

On 2 June 2012, Nikoli? stated on Montenegrin television that "there was no genocide in Srebrenica. In Srebrenica, grave war crimes were committed by some Serbs who should be found, prosecuted and punished. [...] It is very difficult to indict someone and prove before a court that an event qualifies as genocide." Nikoli? stated that he would not attend the annual commemoration of the Srebrenica massacre: "Don't always ask the Serbian president if he is going to Srebrenica, my predecessor was there and paid tribute. Why should every president do the same?"[57]

Bakir Izetbegovi?, a member of Bosnia and Herzegovina's presidency, said Nikolic's comments insulted the survivors. He elaborated "the denial of genocide in Srebrenica will not pave the way for co-operation and reconciliation in the region, but on the contrary, may cause fresh misunderstandings and tensions. "[57]Catherine Ashton, foreign policy chief of the European Union, condemned his comments and stated that "the EU strongly rejects any intention to rewrite history."[58] The United States State Department deplored Nikoli?'s statement and considered them unfounded and counterproductive.[59]

On 25 April 2013, Nikoli? apologised for crimes committed by any individual in the name of Serbia, and, in particular, for crimes committed in Srebrenica.[60][61][62] The apology came after Nikoli? was criticised during the presidential election in 2012 for saying that 'there was no genocide in Srebrenica', although this had been acknowledged by his predecessor, Tadi?.[60] However, the news was not fully accepted[clarification needed] in the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Nikoli? was said to have not recognised the massacre of Srebrenica as genocide.[61]

Comments about prophecy and calling Chinese people "yellow people"

On 18 December 2015 local time, Nikoli? met in Belgrade with Li Keqiang, Premier of the People's Republic of China. He was quoted as saying: "There was a man in our country 200 years ago and he was a prophet, and had never heard of China, but he said: 'People will come from the east - yellow people and will rule the world, and drink water from the River Morava'". This statement has been characterized as an insult by some Serbian newspapers and it was the subject of a satirical TV show.[63][64]

Comments about protection of "Serbian genes"

On 25 January 2016, Nikoli? laid the cornerstone for "the Centre of Excellence" of the University of Kragujevac, his hometown; the institution will include a stem cell research unit. Nikoli? said The Stem Cell Bank will "preserve what's most important, and the most beautiful characteristics of the Serb people" and also: "Children should be born here, with the Serb genetic material, with the Serb code, Serb past and Serb future. That has guided me to support this."[65][66]Ombudsman of Serbia, Sa?a Jankovi?, reacted to this on Twitter by saying he "regretted this statement," and adding that the first article of the Constitution states "the Republic of Serbia is the state of the Serb people and all citizens who live in it." The League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV) also reacted, saying that the president made "a Nazi statement" that "violated the Constitution," and urged him to resign.[65]

Honouring Omar al-Bashir

Nikoli? has decorated a large number of domestic and foreign individuals and institutions on the occasion of Statehood Day. In 2016, he honoured Omar al-Bashir, President of Sudan, because that country refused to recognise Kosovo's independence.[67] The New York-based Coalition for the International Criminal Court called on Nikoli? to revoke the medal he gave to Sudan's President because Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and is suspected of five counts of crimes against humanity, two counts of war crimes and three counts of genocide allegedly committed in the Darfur.[68]

Comments about gynaecology and women

On September 2016, At the opening ceremony of Symposium of Association of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians Serbia, Montenegro and Republika Srpska, Nikoli? said: "Gynecology is knowledge about women, if anyone should dare to say that they have that knowledge".[69]Maja Sedlarevi?, member of League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV), said Nikoli? had offended women and also he is ignorant, uneducated and superficial.[70]

Bibliography

Nikoli? has published thirteen books:

  • - Neither victory nor defeat
  • ? - Everything for Kosovo and Metohija
  • - Abducted victory
  • - ?e?elj for President
  • ? ? - Through the darkness of the media
  • ? - The letter with an address
  • ? ? - In the grip of hatred
  • ? - I spoke
  • - The parliamentary walk on torture
  • - Neo-communist parliament
  • ? - Since the beginning
  • ? - When the government falls, Milo?evi? falls
  • ? - The Trenches in the National Assembly

Honours and awards

Honorary citizenship

Country City Year
 Serbia Honorary citizen of ?a?ak[81] 2013
Bosnia and Herzegovina Republika Srpska Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republika Srpska) Honorary citizen of Trebinje[82] 2013
 Montenegro Honorary citizen of Berane[83] 2015
 China Honorary citizen of Beijing[84] 2017

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External links

Party political offices
New political party Leader of the People's Radical Party
1990-1991
Succeeded by
Veljko Guberina
Deputy President of the Radical Party
2003-2008
Succeeded by
Dragan Todorovi?
Leader of the Serbian Progressive Party
2008-2012
Succeeded by
Aleksandar Vu?i?
Political offices
Preceded by
Predrag Markovi?
President of the National Assembly
2007
Succeeded by
Oliver Duli?
Preceded by
Slavica ?uki? Dejanovi?
Acting
President of Serbia
2012-2017
Succeeded by
Aleksandar Vu?i?

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