Former Milosevic Spokesman Becomes New Serbian Prime Minister
July 27, 2012
By: Rebecca Aaberg | Printer Friendly
Ivica Dacic, a former spokesman for Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, was sworn in as Prime Minister on July 27, AP reported. The parliament approved Dacic with 142 votes for and 72 against out of 250 seats. The new government is the first to include Milosevic-era officials since the popular uprising in 2000 ousted Milosevic. Dacic explained in a speech to the parliament that he favored an integrationist approach to Serbian relations: "Our goal is the acceleration of the process of European integration with a maximum effort to get a date for the start of EU accession talks. Serbia wants to be a factor of peace and stability in the region... all outstanding issues should be resolved peacefully. Serbia is extending its hands in reconciliation with everyone. We will not concern ourselves with the past; let's concern ourselves with the future."
Internationally and domestically, reception to Dacic has been mixed. The New York Times reported that Dacic has instituted reforms in the Socialist Party to transform it into a social democratic party. United States (US) Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon told Al Jazeera supported the emphasis on integration and stated that the US “wants to see Serbia as part of Europe, as we want to see the entire region as part of Europe” and that "It's not matter of [Dacic’s selection as Prime Minister] being acceptable to the US or not. The US considers it important to see a stable democratic process in the choice of leadership. Of course we are interested which way that leadership is heading and that government will have to show it is willing and committed in forging good relationships with its neighbors, which is key to Serbia going forward." Opposition member Cedomir Jovanovic reflected widespread cynicism in the new Prime Minister and commented on his involvement in the 1990s wars: "Serbia is the only place in the world where someone destroys the country and can just change a tie and move on."
Among the chief concerns of the return to power of a coalition including the Dacic’s (and formerly Milosevic’s) Socialist Party is the lack of recognition of Kosovo’s independence. Kosovo became independent from Serbia in 2008 with strong support from the United States. Kosovar Foreign Minister Enver Hoxhaj said that Dacic’s government is “rooted in the past,” “antidemocratic and anti-European.” Former Yugoslavian Foreign Affairs Minister and United Nations Ambassador Vladislav Jovanovic commented on the situation: "A country which has a constitutional definition that Kosovo is a part of Serbia should not be coming out with suggestions that one part of that Serbia could be divided with somebody else."
Dacic has received criticism for his choice of ministers, which include Milosevic’s former information minister, Aleksandar Vucic. In his own defense, Dacic said: "I am not stupid so as to do something to my own detriment. I will do what is best not only for me, but for the people of Serbia and Serbia itself. This is a huge maturity test for me and a chance which I will not waste. There is no danger to anyone in the Balkans from Serbia, from the Serbian people. To the contrary, it is in our interest that the ties between the countries in the region are as strong as possible."
Both Dacic and new Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic are faced with increasing economic concerns. In February a $1.2 billion USD loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was frozen due to overspending concerns and public debt. The New York Times reported that instead of following the IMF’s prescribed austerity plan, the country may seek additional funds from Russia.
Al Jazeera - Balkans brace for new Serbian Prime Minister
AP (via Huffington Post) Ivica Dacic, Ex-Milosevic Spokesman, Becomes New Serbia Prime Minister
BBC – Serbia Swears in New Government Led by Milosevic Ally
New York Times - Next Premier of Serbia Is From Party of Milosevic