Ethnic Croats to prop new Serbian government

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic gesture during the press conference with EU Special Representative for the Pristina-Belgrade Dialogue Miroslav Lajcak (not pictured) after their meeting in Belgrade, Serbia, 15 October 2020. [EPA-EFE/NEMANJA JOVANOVIC]

Serbia’s new government will have a shorter term, as the next general election will be held in April 2022 at the latest, simultaneously with the presidential polls and municipal elections in Belgrade, Serbian president and leader of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), Aleksandar Vučić, said on Tuesday (20 October).

Speaking to journalists after SNS’s presidency session, Vučić said his party would enter into a coalition with the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), led by incumbent foreign affairs minister Ivica Dačić, — who Vučić said would take the post of parliament speaker — and the Serbian Patriotic Alliance (SPAS), led by Aleksandar Šapić.

With the 3 November constitutional deadline for the inauguration of a new cabinet approaching, Vučić said that he had “several doubts about the composition of the new government.”

After several delays, the latest date for the announcement of the new cabinet is now set for Sunday (24 October), more than four months after the parliamentary elections held on 21 June.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Croatia has been following closely the formation of Serbia’s government.

Croatia’s ambassador to Serbia, Hidajet Biščević, said the Serbian authorities had promised him that representatives of the ethnic Croat community would participate in the  work of the national as well as regional and local governments.

Asked if a Serbian Croat would be a state secretary in the new Serbian government, the ambassador said that “promises have been given for one or two such positions.”

This would send a strong message from Belgrade in favour of improving the complicated relations with Zagreb, still burdened by the legacy of a four-year war waged between ethnic Serbs and Croats in Croatia after the country proclaimed its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

The representative of Croatian Serbs, Boris Milošević, is the deputy prime minister in the new Croatian government that took office this summer, which is seen as an important step in a process of reconciliation and normalisation of relations.

The removal of hardliner Dačić from the position of minister of foreign affairs is another good sign for Zagreb, as he was an obstacle in the process of rebuilding relations, Croatian government sources said.

The warming of relations between Croatia and Serbia would also have a beneficial impact on the situation on South-East Europe, especially in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where ethnic Croats and Serbs are heavily influenced by Zagreb and Belgrade, respectively.

Vučić also said that the new Serbian government will have “two or three new ministries,” one of them being a ministry of human rights and social dialogue.

[Edited by Vlagyiszlav Makszimov and Georgi Gotev]

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