SKOPJE, Macedonia, July 6 -- Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski conceded defeat Thursday to the nationalist opposition in Macedonia's parliamentary elections, a vote considered crucial for the tiny Balkan nation's aspirations to join the European Union and NATO.
Sounding like a winner, Nikola Gruevski thanked his VMRO-DPMNE party supporters and said he would begin efforts on Friday to put together a coalition.
"The top priority of the government will be integration into the E.U. Our government will focus on improving the economic situation, to fight corruption and crime and raise the standard of living," he said.
With 36 percent of the ballots counted, the VMRO-DPMNE party had 33 percent of the vote, while Buckovski's ruling Social Democrats had 24 percent, according to the State Electoral Commission.