Slobodan Milosevic’s former spokesman — Ivica Dacic — became Serbia’s new Prime Minister on Friday, promising to promote reconciliation in the Balkans after his nomination triggered fears of resurgent nationalism in the volatile region.
The election marks the first time Milosevic’s former party and their allies will dominate the government since they ruled Serbia for a decade in the 1990s — an era marked with wars, international sanctions and economic downturn.
Milosevic was ousted from power in 2000 following a popular revolt. He was widely blamed for instigating the bloody Balkan wars that followed the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. The wars claimed more than 100,000 lives and left millions homeless.
The Cabinet of Prime Minister Dacic was approved with 142 votes for and 72 against in a 250-member assembly, ending nearly three months of political uncertainty that followed an inconclusive election on May 6.
Mr. Dacic’s coalition government includes ministers from his own Socialist Party; from nationalist Serbian Progressive Party of President Tomislav Nikolic; as well as several smaller groups.
Milosevic died in 2006 in custody of the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, while on a genocide trial.
Mr. Dacic was Milosevic’s wartime spokesman, nick-named “Little Sloba” for his admiration of the former party chief. Mr. Dacic’s nomination to the post of the Prime Minister triggered fears of resurgent nationalism in the Balkan country.
But in his speech to the parliament on Thursday, Mr. Dacic tried to dispel those concerns, promising to advance Serbia’s EU bid; press on with reforms; and promote reconciliation in the region.
“Let us turn to the future and not deal with the past,” he said.
Among the challenges facing the new government are widespread joblessness and a cash-strapped budget amid deepening economic crisis. The average monthly salary in Serbia is around 350 Euros ($429), while poverty is widespread.