Serbia honors Chavez with state decoration

BELGRADE -- Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić offered his condolences on Wednesday to the family of President Hugo Chavez, the leadership and people of Venezuela.

Tomislav Nikolić (Beta, file)
Tomislav Nikolić (Beta, file)

The president's message was sent on behalf of the Serbian citizens and in his own name.

Hugo Chavez, 58, died on Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer.

"The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has been left without its president, the Republic of Serbia without a sincere friend," Nikolić wrote, and added:

"The world political scene has been left without a great statesman, whose tolerance, understanding of the historical moment, endurance with which he fought for a better future of his people, contribution to peace in the region and the world, became the characteristics after which the name of Hugo Chavez will in the future be uttered with deep respect."

The president's cabinet also announced on Wednesday that Hugo Chavez has been posthumously honored with the Order of the Republic of Serbia on a sash, for his contribution to the development and strengthening of peaceful cooperation and friendly relations between the two countries.

It has also been announced that Oliver Antić will attend the funeral in Caracas in his role as Nikolić's special envoy.

Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić also sent his condolences over the passing of the Venezuelan leader, and addressed them to the country's Vice-President Nicolas Maduro.

"On behalf of the government of the Republic of Serbia and on my personal behalf I wish to express my deep condolences on the occasion of the death of President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez, who was a great friend of Serbia, an advocate of improved relations between our countries, and known for his principled position in favor of a solution of the Kosovo and Metohija problem in line with international law."