Tue, Nov 13, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Danilo Tuerk wins Slovenia's presidential election

LONGTIME DIPLOMAT Danilo Tuerk was Slovenia's ambassador to the UN from 1992 until 2000, after which he became an assistant to then UN secretary-general Kofi Annan

AP , LJUBLJANA

Center-left opposition candidate Danilo Tuerk, left, celebrates with his wife Barbara, center, and daughter Helena after the Slovenian presidential election polls closed at his headquarters in Ljubljana on Sunday.

PHOTO: AFP

Longtime Slovenian diplomat Danilo Tuerk overwhelmingly won the country's presidential elections, according to nearly complete results released by the state-run Electoral Commission.

Tuerk, 55, had 68 percent of votes with about 99 percent of the ballots counted on Sunday. His rival, former prime minister Lojze Peterle, had 32 percent. Complete, official results should be announced in a week.

Peterle was backed by the center-right governing coalition and the outcome of the election sent a warning to Prime Minister Janez Jansa's center-right government a year before parliamentary elections.

Peterle, a member of the European parliament, conceded defeat.

"I congratulate Mr Tuerk on his victory," he said. "I wish him all the best in leading the country for the next five years."

Tuerk, who ran as independent but was supported by leftist opposition parties, said winning the post was "joyful, but also brings obligations."

Slovenians "obviously understood my opinions, my stands and my achievements," he said.

Tuerk -- Slovenia's former ambassador to the UN and later an assistant to its secretary-general -- will replace President Janez Drnovsek, who decided not to seek a second term. His term expires on Dec. 22 and the new president will be sworn in for a five-year term a day before that.

Tuerk is not expected to change Slovenia's alliances with Europe and Washington, even though he was highly critical of the US-led war in Iraq.

The country of 2 million people, which seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991, joined the EU and NATO in 2004 and became the 13th nation using the euro on Jan. 1. It will take over the EU's rotating presidency Jan. 1.

Tuerk said that Slovenia will be the EU's "solid, faithful and credible partner."

"Rely on us and we will be a good president of the EU," he said.

Tuerk has spent most of his career abroad. He was Slovenia's ambassador to the UN from 1992, when the country gained international recognition, until 2000, when he became an assistant to then UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.

In 2005, he returned to Slovenia and is currently an associate dean at the Ljubljana Faculty of Law.

The job of president is largely ceremonial but it carries authority in some defense and foreign matters.

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