Blair hopes day of liberation for Serbs finally is at hand

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Prime Minister Tony Blair joined Polish leaders in expressing hope that today would be the first day of freedom for the Serbian people after their dramatic overnight revolt against President Slobodan Milosevic's regime.

Prime Minister Tony Blair joined Polish leaders in expressing hope that today would be the first day of freedom for the Serbian people after their dramatic overnight revolt against President Slobodan Milosevic's regime.

"The most important thing for now is for him to go, to understand the will of the Serbian people," Mr Blair said during a visit to Warsaw.

"Let us hope it is indeed the first day of liberation for the people of Serbia from the oppression of Milosevic. The prize, not just for the Serbian people, but for the rest of Europe, is the possibility Serbia would be welcomed back into the European nations.

"We want to make sure that, as Serbia is heading for democracy, we are there giving them a helping hand. Whatever our quarrel with the oppressive and odious regime of Milosevic was, it was never a quarrel with the Serbian people."

Polish Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek echoed Blair's comments, saying he wanted to "express my conviction that today will be the first day of freedom" for the Serbs.

Poland's president, Alexander Kwasniewski, also said he hoped Friday would be the dawn of democracy in Yugoslavia, where Serbia is the dominant republic.

"From the Polish side, we give our full support to the democratic process in Yugoslavia. We are ready to share our experience. We know how to create democratic institutions from scratch," he said, referring to Poland's emergence as a democracy in the decade since the country shed communist rule.

Blair was in Poland to discuss trade, security issues and the efforts of Poland and other former communist countries of eastern Europe to join the European Union.

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