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EU Urges Reformist Serbs to Form New Government

European Union Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has called on pro-European forces in Serbia to continue to work towards forming a new government.

Rehn said the Balkans have been making steady progress, but that the election of ultra-nationalist Tomislav Nikolic as parliamentary speaker threatens to destabilize the region. He made his comments at an international meeting in Zagreb.

Rehn repeated his view that Serbia is at a crossroads where it should choose between returning to a nationalist past or moving toward a European future.

Nikolic is the first ultra-nationalist to hold a top position in Serbia since the 2000 ouster of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Nikolic has urged Serbia to pull out of U.N. negotiations on Kosovo, and objected to Serbian aspirations for EU membership

Nikolic's election followed unsuccessful coalition talks between reformist President Boris Tadic and the conservative Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica.

Serbia held inconclusive parliamentary elections on January 21. The deadline for forming a power-sharing government is May 14. If the deadline passes without a government in place, Serbia's constitution requires new elections.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.