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Serbia: Parliament Approves New Prime Minister

Belgrade, 18 March 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Serbia's parliament today approved Zoran Zivkovic (pictured) to be prime minister, replacing Zoran Djindjic, who was assassinated last week. Zivkovic, a long-time ally of Djindjic, received 128 votes in the 250-seat parliament, with some 100 other deputies voting against him.

Zivkovic said Serbia will continue to respect its international obligations and cooperate with the UN war crimes tribunal in bringing to justice suspected criminals from the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

Zivkovic also told parliament this morning that the government will proceed with the Western-backed reforms initiated by Djindjic. "Our short-term common goals are membership in the Council of Europe, entry into [NATO's] Partnership for Peace [program], and membership in the European Union," he said. "We also have to start economic reform, privatization, and the transformation of the collective economy into a healthy, efficient economy."

In addition, Zivkovic pledged to continue the war on organized crime.

Zivkovic was mayor of Serbia's third-largest city, Nis, and an outspoken opponent of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. One month after Milosevic was toppled from power in a bloodless popular rebellion in October 2000, Zivkovic was appointed federal interior minister.