Epiphany in Serbia

Voters in Serbia, the hatchery for the gruesome Balkan wars of the 1990s, on Sunday rejected the nationalist ambitions that proved so destructive to themselves and their neighbors.

By decisively backing Boris Tadic, the pro-Western, pro-reform presidential candidate, they have finally indicated readiness to walk the long path toward integration, the European Union, and NATO.

Two weeks ago, they were still flirting with hard-line nationalist Tomislav Nikolic, who then won the most votes in the first presidential election round. In December, his Radical Party became the largest in parliament.

Mr. Nikolic, a former ally of ousted strongman Slobodan Milosevic, had pledged to roll back liberal economic reforms. He believes in "greater Serbia" that includes parts of Croatia and Bosnia, and rejects cooperation with the UN in handing over suspected war criminals.

Thankfully, "Serbia knows how to recognize a historic moment," as their new professor-president put it. But more "aha" moments lie ahead.

Mr. Tadic is right to insist, for instance, that Serbia must fully comply with extraditing war-crime suspects to an international tribunal, even if many Serbs think it's a biased court. He also has to realize how harmful the bickering between his party and other democratic forces has been, and put a stop to it. And now that Serbia has decided to embrace the West, the US and the European Union need to hug back with more aid.

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