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World outraged by Djindjic killing

Djindjic
Djindjic was "a very good PM" says his friend, the EU's Javier Solana.

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SPECIAL REPORT

BELGRADE, Serbia (CNN) -- World leaders across the globe have condemned the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic in Belgrade.

Russia's Foreign Ministry headed by Igor Ivanov said Moscow was "outraged" at the crime.

"Those guilty must be brought to justice," it said in a written statement, adding that "this savage action will not destabilize Serb society at this difficult time in its history."

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said President George W. Bush "expresses his condolences to the people of Serbia."

"Prime Minister Djindjic will be remembered for his role in bringing democracy to Serbia and for his role in bringing Slobodan Milosevic to justice," Fleischer said.

British officials who worked with the former Yugoslavia called it "a dark day" for Serbia. UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw offered his condolences to Djindjic's family and said he was "deeply shocked" by the killing.

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, talked of his personal friendship with "a very good prime minister."

"A friend of mine has been killed, a very good friend. I had the opportunity of working with him during the last period of time. I had a very long conversation the day before yesterday to help him make progress in the development of his country."

EU President Romano Prodi released a statement saying the European Commission "stands by Serbia's side and it will continue to do so in the future."

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that Djindjic "had a lot to do with the return of Serbia into the community of European democracies. After years of dictatorship and of war, he was the carrier of hope for the people in his country..."

"For Serbia and Montenegro, it is important to continue what started with Djindjic," he added.

Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic agreed. He appeared on television and said: "The assassination of the prime minister of Serbia, Zoran Djindjic was a criminal act by those who want to disrupt reforms in Serbia."

Ivan Vujacic, Serbia and Montenegro ambassador to the United States, said he did not anticipate new elections.

"I expect the government to be really united and push forward, he told CNN. Vujacic said his friend "knew something like this could happen" and "learned to live" with the threat.

He called Djindjic "brilliant" and a "great organizer" and said he was courageous, pointing out that the downfall of Milosevic was "quite a feat."

Djindjic, he said, did all of the things that the leader of a country in transition should do -- pursue reform in government institutions, crack down on crime, help integrate Serbia into Europe, rebuild the economy and strike a deal with Montenegro to remain in a federation with that smaller state.

Croatian president Stjepan Mesic, whose country fought Yugoslav troops in its struggle for independence, described the shooting by two suspected snipers as "an act of madness."

"This is not good for Serbia, not good for us in the neighborhood," he told Reuters.

Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, told a session of the European Parliament in the French city of Strasbourg:

"Prime Minister Djindjic's death must remind us all of our own obligation to push ahead, to give backing to democratic forces in Serbia and Montenegro."

Belgrade residents spoke of their fears for the country.

"Is he really dead? God forbid! Whatever happened to this country. Can we feel safe," pensioner Ljiljana told Reuters.


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