By Igor Jovanovic
After more than two months since the parliamentary elections, Serbia’s new cabinet led by the Serbian Progressive Party (SP) and the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) was elected by parliament on Friday (July 27th).
Presenting the new government’s programme, new Prime Minister Ivica Dacic – a former spokesman of Slobodan Milosevic — said that its priority would be European integration, continuing talks with Pristina, good relations with neighbouring countries and economic progress.
Dacic rejected media claims that Serbia is threatening to return to the 1990s because the country is led by socialists and progressives who had been power with Milosevic. He said that Serbia wants peace and stability in the region and that all disagreements will be solved peacefully, in the spirit of co-operation.
“If they say that the word Balkan means blood and honey, then there has been enough blood, it is time that we get a taste of the honey,” he said. “Serbia is offering a hand of reconciliation. Let’s not concern ourselves with the past anymore. Let’s look to the future.”
He also promised to fight crime and corruption, strive for social justice and lower unemployment that stands at more than 20%.
The cabinet was elected 142-72 in the 250-member parliament after nine hours of debate.
Dragoljub Micunovic, head of the DP parliamentary group, said that the new government’s programme is overambitious and that it does not have the capacities to achieve the plans. He called it “a list of nice wishes and the result of incompatible concepts.”
“We have no concrete plan proposed by the government for us to find funds to achieve all of this,” Micunovic told reporters.
Vladimir Radomirovic, from the Centre for Strategic Alternatives, told SETimes that Dacic’s programme was “very ambitious” and that it will be difficult to achieve all of it in the next four years.
“The first concern will be how to fill the budget and ensure the regular payment of wages and pensions. Also, I think the government will be a great success if it manages to regains citizens’ trust in state institutions,” he said.
Radomirovic added that there was no reason for the region to fear the new government, which has set European integration as its priority.
“[President Tomislav] Nikolic has already improved relations with Montenegro, which were very bad during the previous government. There are also two Bosniak ministers in the new government, which is a clear message to Bosnia and Herzegovina. There could be friction in relations with Croatia, but it is not in Belgrade’s interest to cause such relations,” he said.
Citizens had mixed reactions to the new government.
Boban Petrovic, a trader from Belgrade, said that the government does not instill much confidence.
“There are too many different parties in government, I don’t believe they will stay together long. There are also no experts who can kick-start the country, they are mainly already spent politicians,” he said.
However, Vera Dautovic thinks that things will get better.
“The people in the Serbian Progressive Party have long waited to be in government and I think they will not miss this chance to show that they are better than the democrats. I am sure that things will be at least a little better for us,” she said.