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Croatian Parliament Approves New Government

Croatia's parliament on January 22 approved a new government formed by the center-right alliance and led by Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic, a pharmaceuticals executive turned politician.

The new government, which received the support of 83 of 151 parliamentary deputies, faces challenges in tackling meager economic growth following six straight years of recession, as well as a record influx of refugees.

Oreskovic told lawmakers before the vote that his government aims to slash Croatia's budget gap from about 5 percent to within the European Union's gross domestic product ceiling of 3 percent.

"Our goal is to reach growth of above 4 percent by 2020 and to reduce public debt to below 80 percent of gross domestic product," said Oreskovic, who was born in Croatia but raised and educated in Canada.

He added: "This government will be ready to take tough decisions. We want to make the public administration more efficient, cut red tape, ease doing business, and reform the health and educational sectors."

Croatia is the EU's newest member and also among weakest economies in the bloc.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP