World Bulletin / News Desk
The wartime spokesman of late Serbian war crimes convict Slobodan Milosevic was asked on Thursday to form a coalition government with a nationalist party, raising concerns aming diplomats and investors about Belgrade's bid for European Union membership.
Ivica Dacic, head of the Socialist party once led by Milosevic, said after being given the mandate to govern: "There will be no return to the 1990s," the decade when the former Yugoslavia was ripped apart by war.
"As prime minister, I will never make a decision that will be an injustice to Serbia and its citizens," Dacic said after meeting President Tomislav Nikolic, head of the nationalist SNS party with which he will form a coalition.
"The new government's task is to create a better life for our citizens ... and it must stay on a stable European course," Nikolic, a former ultra-nationalist who surprisingly beat liberal Boris Tadic in last month's presidential run-off vote, told reporters.
Diplomats say the EU, which made Serbia an official candidate for membership in March, had hoped Tadic would become prime minister in a coalition with the Socialists, marginalising Nikolic and keeping the country on a pro-reform path.
But the Socialists rejected proposals to revive a coalition with Tadic's Democratic party after seven weeks of talks and instead sided with Nikolic.
With Nikolic and Dacic in the driving seat, the Democrats lost all levers of power for the first time since they ousted Milosevic in October 2000.
In the 1990s, Dacic was a spokesman for Milosevic, who was handed over to the Hague war crimes tribunal on this day in 2001 and later died in detention while on trial for fomenting wars in the former Yugoslavia.
Under Dacic, the Socialists shed most of Milosevic's legacy but many diplomats see them as opportunists rather than reformers.
As interior minister in the Democrat-led government, Dacic was instrumental in securing visa-free travel for Serbs in the EU and launched a crackdown on organised crime and corruption.
A Belgrade-based European diplomat who asked not to be named said the new government "will be greeted with mixed feelings."
"Dacic proved himself well so far but we want to see whether they can be partners who can deliver," he said.
"Dream for Greater Serbia"
Dacic has in the past expressed support for partitioning Kosovo which declared independence in 2008, between Serbia and Kosovo's ethnic Albanians - a scenario unacceptable to the EU.
Brussels has asked Nikolic to mend ties with Kosovo before Serbia can hope for progress in its EU bid.
Nikolic has repeatedly said he is in favour of Serbia joining the EU and wants to speed up the process. However, few in the region have forgotten he once professed a wish to build a "Greater Serbia" - a dream that inspired much of the carnage in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s in which 125,000 people died.
The new government, which will also include the pro-business URS party, will have to tackle a budget deficit that by far exceeds the 4.25 percent of gross domestic product level agreed with the International Monetary Fund, public debt of over 50 percent of GDP and unemployment around 25 percent.
It will also have to try to unblock a 1 billion-euro ($1.25 billion) stand-by deal with the IMF that was frozen in February over Serbia's inflated spending and widening debt, and also work hard to win the West's trust.
Dacic has said previously Serbia should spend more to spur growth rather than abide by the stringent austerity measures recommended by the IMF.
Diplomats and investors will scrutinise the new government's first moves.
The Serbian dinar which lost ground to the euro immediately after Nikolic's victory and then recovered, weakened slightly against the common currency on Thursday after Dacic said he would form a government.
The currency, which this year lost about 7.6 percent to the European currency, traded at between 115.56 and 116.1 to the euro, currency dealers said.
"Some investors have fled. Some remained cautious and will be awaiting to hear and witness the first economic moves of the new government," said a delaer at a Belgrade-based commercial bank.
($1 = 0.8028 euros)
The Human Rights Council have adopted four resolutions that included creating a commission of inquiry to conduct a thorough investigation into human rights violations and abuses in Burundi since April 2015
Sweden has confirmed it will become the next country to join the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence (STRATCOMCOE) which is based in Riga
Erdogan's historic visit in 2011 was turning point in evolution of security and stability in Somalia, says Mohamud
United Nations assistant secretary general Toby Lanzer said the suffering in northeast Nigeria and surrounding areas was the worst he had ever witnessed.
United Party for National Development MPs say President Edgar Lungu is not legitimate
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gets reactions of Palestinians after he cries over former Israeli Prime Minister President during his funeral
Head of Crimean Tatar Mejlis says community will take Russian prohibtion on parliament to European Court of Human Rights
"All member states greenlight early EU ratification of Paris agreement. What some believed impossible is now real," European Union President Donald Tusk said on Twitter.
The UN refugee agency said now around 100,000 people -- many of whom had fled into the town in search of safety -- could no longer leave after government troops surrounded the area.
Looking drawn and dressed in a dark suit, Ntaganda took his place in the dock behind his defence lawyers at his trial in the International Criminal Court, with a witness giving testimony.
Participation of Shia militias in upcoming campaign to free ISIL-held Mosul could spark sectarian conflict, experts warn
He also reported a sharp drop so far this year to 210,000 people seeking safe haven in the biggest EU economy as of last week.
The Czech leader said Prague was "disturbed by the increase in hateful attacks in Britain aimed at the citizens of EU member states".
90 pct rise in August in the number of refugees trying to make perilous journey across the Aegean
Nicosia District Court judge Dona Constantinou was satisfied that Seif al-Din Mohamed Mostafa, 58, would get a fair trial in Egypt and would not be persecuted for his political beliefs.