Source AP ©

Diplomat Danilo Tuerk became the third president of Slovenia

Longtime Slovenian diplomat Danilo Tuerk became the country's third president as Slovenians looked for fresh faces in politics and sent a clear warning to the center-right government, analysts and media said Monday.

The left-leaning Tuerk, 55, won overwhelmingly, getting 68 percent of votes in Sunday's elections, with nearly all votes counted. His rival, conservative former Prime Minister Lojze Peterle, conceded defeat.

Tuerk's victory is "rather a reflection of voters' nonsupport" for Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who strongly supported Peterle and faces parliamentary elections in a year, Dnevnik daily wrote in a commentary Monday entitled: "The Campaign is over, the campaign begins."

Slovenians seemed to be fed up with politicians that had been around since the 1990s, and Tuerk, who spent most of his career abroad, fitted the bill, political analyst Danilo Slivnik told POP TV channel.

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

Tuerk, who ran as an independent but was supported by the leftist opposition, acknowledged that voters wanted "something new." But he pledged to be the president that unites Slovenians.

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

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

Tuerk told The Associated Press that Slovenia will be the European Union's "solid, faithful and credible partner."

Tuerk was Slovenia's ambassador to the United Nations from 1992, when the country gained international recognition, until 2000, when he became an assistant to then-U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

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