Serbian Parliament approves new government
Serbia's parliament has approved a new government made up of a pro-Western group and the party of late leader Slobodan Milosevic, which have pledged to speed up the Balkan country's integration into the European Union.
The coalition was approved on Monday in a 127-27 vote, with the remaining lawmakers in Serbia's 250-seat Parliament refusing to vote.
The new government includes the Democratic Party of President Boris Tadic and the Socialist Party of Serbia, which was formed by Milosevic in the 1990s. Under Milosevic the Socialists were blamed for inciting the Balkan wars and ruining Serbia's economy, but the party recently has sought to shake off that image and embrace pro-Western reforms.
New Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, 57, pledged yesterday to take the country toward EU membership and to continue to reject the independence of Kosovo the cherished Serbian province which declared independence in February with the support of Western powers.
"Full-fledged EU membership is the core interest of the Republic of Serbia and its citizens," Cvetkovic said. "Joining the EU would enable Serbia to become a full-fledged member of the European family of nations, from which Serbia has been excluded for a long time due to certain unfortunate historical circumstances."
He also said his government would never recognise Kosovo's independence and would "undertake all legal and diplomatic measures so as to preserve Kosovo as an integral part of the Republic of Serbia."
Cvetkovic, an economic expert from Tadic's party, said his government's priorities also included strengthening the economy and combating crime and corruption.