World Bulletin / News Desk
The former spokesman of late war crimes convict Slobodan Milosevic took power in Serbia on Friday, telling Europe and the Balkans to forget the past and not fear the return of a political alliance that once led the country to war with NATO.
After 12 hours of heated debate, lawmakers in the 250-seat Serbian parliament voted 142 to 72 to endorse Socialist Party leader Ivica Dacic as prime minister at the helm of a coalition with nationalists.
The alliance condemns to the opposition benches the main reformers who ousted Milosevic in 2000, raising concern in the West that Serbia might veer from the path they took towards joining the European Union.
Dacic said EU membership was "a key goal", but that he would not be made to answer anymore for Serbia's dark past.
"If they say the word Balkan means 'blood and honey', there's been enough blood, it's time to feel the taste of honey too," the career politician told the assembly during a debate that ran late into the night.
"Serbia is offering the hand of reconciliation, to all. Let's not deal anymore with the past, let's deal with the future."
The West is closely scrutinising Dacic's ascent to the most powerful post in Serbia - in alliance with President Tomislav Nikolic's nationalists - for any sign that the country may drift from the EU path chosen by the seven states carved from old federal Yugoslavia.
Nikolic and the Socialists last shared power at the close of Milosevic's disastrous 13-year rule, when his forces expelled almost 1 million ethnic Albanians from Kosovo and NATO bombed in 1999 to wrest the province from him.
Dacic, 46, was Milosevic's spokesman, railing against the West. He now says Serbia's future is in the EU, but Western diplomats admit to doubts over whether he is willing and able to carry out the political and economic reforms it will take.
His government inherits an economy sliding into recession, a jobless rate of 25 percent and a shrinking, ageing population scraping by on an average net monthly wage of 340 euros ($420).
In a speech that cited economists John Maynard Keynes and Paul Krugman and American industrialist Henry Ford, Dacic dismissed calls for "belt-tightening" at the cost of pensions and pay, saying only economic growth would bring down Serbia's growing debt burden of 55 percent of output.
The West says Serbia's progress towards EU membership rests on it coming to terms with the loss of Kosovo.
Dacic said he was ready to continue EU-mediated talks with Kosovo aimed at "normalising life for all citizens". But Serbia would never recognise it as independent, he said.
The EU says it won't have to, at least explicitly, but it will have to loosen its grip on a Serb-populated slice of Kosovo's north, and stop obstructing the country's development.
That will determine how quickly the EU opens accession talks, after making Serbia a candidate for membership in March. Ex-Yugoslav republic Slovenia joined the EU in 2004. Croatia is next in 2013 and Montenegro began talks last month.
Dacic was interior minister in the last government with the reformist Democratic Party from 2008, until voters punished the Democrats for perceived elitism and an economic downturn.
The new coalition includes the technocrat United Regions bloc, whose leader Mladjan Dinkic becomes finance minister. Trying to settle markets, Dinkic says Serbia will revive a frozen loan deal with the International Monetary Fund.
Diplomat Ivan Mrkic, ambassador in Greek Cyprus under Milosevic at a time when, reformers say, millions of dollars were siphoned out of Serbia via Nicosia, became foreign minister. ($1 = 0.8130 euros)
Conservative presidential candidate says France is marred by 'quasi-civil war' atmosphere during campaign
Movement for Rights and Freedoms' decision to select Attack party candidates criticized
The Geneva-based body was holding its first meeting with Washington's seat occupied by an envoy from President Donald Trump's government.
The blaze began early in the morning, sending thick plumes of smoke billowing over the Somali capital as flames devoured market stalls whose hodge-podge placement made it difficult for firefighters to contain the inferno.
Such rescue operations "should be reevaluated", Fabrice Leggeri told Germany's Die Welt daily, also accusing the groups of not effectively cooperating with security agencies against human traffickers.
Report comes amid expectations of state-level report rumored to be critical of PM’s handling of 2014 Gaza War
Iraqi forces are fighting to drive ISIL militants from western Mosul
State Councillor Yang Jiechi will meet senior American officials on Monday and Tuesday to discuss "bilateral ties and issues of common concern", the foreign ministry announced late Sunday.
Jasek was reportedly making a film about the persecution of local Christians in Sudan when he was arrested
"A projectile fired from the Gaza Strip hit an open area...in southern Israel," a military statement said.
A ministry official said Foreign Secretary S.Jaishankar would travel to Washington on Tuesday for a "wide-ranging bilateral discussion", without giving further details.
UNHCR said refugees have reported walking for five to seven days to reach Sudan's border state like White Nile, and that 90 percent of the new arrivals there are women and children.
Tekebayev's arrest sparked protests around the Central Asian country, as his supporters blasted the accusations against him as "a fabrication".
Le Pen, speaking at a rally in the western city of Nantes, launched a series of attacks on the 39-year-old independent who has emerged as a frontrunner to become France's next leader.
The region has seen rising violence as the result of a conflict between the FPRC and a rival group, the Union for Peace in Central Africa (UPC).