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Serbian Parliament Approves New Government


Ivica Dacic will head the new government.
Serbia's parliament has voted in a new nationalist-led government headed by Prime Minister Ivica Dacic.

The 250-seat parliament voted 142 to 72 to approve the new coalition.

The coalition consists of new President Tomislav Nikolic's nationalist Serbian Progressive Party, which won the May 6 elections, and Dacic's Socialists.

"Without economic recovery of the country, none of the [government] goals would be easily achieved, so that would be the basis that everyone will look at [while judging] whether this government is [being] successful or not," Dacic said after the swearing-in ceremony.

Dacic also holds the position of interior minister in the new government.

Dacic at one time was a spokesman for former Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

Dacic told parliament on July 26, when he unveiled his cabinet list, that the goal of his government would be to accelerate Serbia's efforts to integrate with the European Union and to obtain a date for the start of EU accession negotiations.

Dacic also said that while Serbia would not recognize Kosovo's independence, Belgrade would respect agreements reached in EU-sponsored talks between Serbia and Kosovo.

Serbia lost control of Kosovo in the 1999 NATO air campaign but continues to insist that the territory is part of Serbia. Kosovo's ethnic Albanian leadership declared the territory's independence in 2008, a fact that has been recognized by most of the EU.

Nikolic's Progressive Party and the pro-European Union Democratic Party of former President Boris Tadic won the most votes in the May election, but not enough for either party to govern alone.

Dacic initially agreed to form a coalition with the Democrats, but turned to the Progressives after Tadic was defeated by Nikolic in the presidential election.

The new government has a number of pressing tasks besides relations with Kosovo and EU accession talks.

The country has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe, with some 20 percent of eligible workers unable to find a job.

The country is also attempting to obtain a $1.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The IMF and Serbia agreed to the stand-by loan for an 18-month period, but the deal was frozen in February because the Serbian government was unable to stick to the figures agreed for the 2012 budget.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa
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