Serbia’s Vucic announces new cabinet after months of delays

Serbia’s Vucic announces new cabinet after months of delays
By bne IntelliNews August 8, 2016

The president of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Aleksandar Vucic, who is mandated to lead the new government, submitted a proposal for his government to Serbia’s parliament speaker Maja Gojkovic on August 8. Gojkovic has called a special parliamentary session for August 9, at which the new government will be elected.

Serbia has been waiting for a new government for more than three months after the April 24 snap election. The government’s composition will not be significantly changed, as the SNS’s junior partner will remain the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS). Besides SPS, the participation of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM) in the government has already been confirmed.

Several of the key officials in Vucic’s previous cabinet will retail their posts, Vucic told a press conference at Serbia’s parliament on August 8. SPS leader Ivica Dacic will continue as first deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, while Nebojsa Stefanovic will keep the position of minister of interior affairs.

Dusan Vujovic and Zoran Djordjevic will continue as minister of finance and minister of defence respectively. Aleksandar Antic will remain minister of energy.

No changes will be made within the ministries of health, infrastructure or labour, employment, veteran and social affairs.

Vucic did not specify exactly how many new people he would have in his cabinet, but said it would have five or six new faces. These will include political independents who are experts in various areas.

“This will be a government of success, experience and freshness,” Vucic said underlining that he plans to create conditions for better living standards for Serbian citizens.

Among the new appointments, Minister of Economy Zeljko Sertic will be replaced by high-ranking SNS official Goran Knezevic. He served as minister of agriculture, forestry and water management between 2012 and 2013.

Nikola Selakovic, who served as minister of justice, has also been sacked and will replaced by former ministry of justice assistant Nela Kuburovic.

Minister of State Administration Kori Udovicki is also going to be replaced, and his job will go to Ana Brnabic from the National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED), who will be first Serbia's gay minister..

The SNS’s Branislav Nedimovic, who will serve as minister of agriculture, is among the new names, as well as Mladen Sarcevic, who will be the new minister of education. Vladan Vukosavljevic will serve as minister of culture and information.

Jadranka Joksimovic will continue as minister without portfolio responsible for EU integration, but she will be joined by Jovan Krkobabic and Slavica Djukic Dejanovic as two more ministers without portfolio. Their responsibilities have not been announced yet. Krkobabic is the president of the Party of United Pensioners of Serbia (PUPS) which was part of the SNS’s electoral list in the April election. Djukic Dejanovic is a high-ranking SPS official and doctor of psychiatry.

The reasons behind Vucic’s cabinet selections, as well as his 450-page handwritten manifesto, will be presented to MPs on August 9.

Gojkovic said she expected that new government would be elected by “huge majority” and that Serbia would have a new government by August 12. The SNS’s coalition has a majority in parliament, which will be enlarged by its alliance with the SPS.

Vucic announced on August 8 that immediately after being elected prime minister he will travel to Vienna on August 12-14. The first official who will visit him after his reappointment will be US vice president Joseph Biden.

At the press conference on August 8, Vucic also defended his decision to call snap elections, which he said brought stability and peace to Serbia.

“Serbia is currently the most stable country in the region and that’s because we had the elections,” Vucic told journalists.