Vucic Tweaks Serb Cabinet, Vowing Golden Era on Path to EU

  • Vujovic remains finance minister, Dacic stays foreign minister
  • Vucic has pledged to reform economy with IMF-endorsed measures

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic unveiled his new cabinet, promising a “golden age” for the Balkan state as he tries to make it ready to join the European Union by 2020.

After leading his Serbian Progressive Party to win a majority in parliament in April snap elections, Vucic announced a new cabinet backed by a ruling tie-up with the Socialist Party, who ruled with him in his previous government. Socialist leader Ivica Dacic will stay on as foreign minister, and Dusan Vujovic will remain finance minister, Vucic said.

The announcement ends months of uncertainty over the shape of the new government as Vucic considers implementing measures endorsed by the International Monetary Fund. He has pledged to sell or shut down state-owned companies and trim the size of the public administration. The prime minister will present the new cabinet to parliament on Tuesday, he said. Lawmakers must approve the team in a vote for it to take power, a result Vucic’s majority coalition is expected to support.

“We want to move onto great new successes with new energy,” said Vucic, a former ally of wartime leader Slobodan Milosevic who has pledged to overhaul Serbia’s economy. “The coming four years will be a golden era for Serbia and its citizens.”

IMF-Endorsed Reforms

Vucic has pledged to use the new four-year mandate to make the country ready for joining the EU, which opened membership negotiations with the country of 7.2 million people earlier this year. He has also pledged to maintain close ties with Russia, cut public debt and spur growth. The dinar was little changed at 123.315 against the euro at 4:40 p.m. in Belgrade. It has lost 1.42 percent this year.

Still, he has yet to tackle many of the most difficult measures, and the IMF has urged his administration to take action on “key structural, fiscal and financial measures” so it can approve policy reviews later this month and keep Serbia’s $1.2 billion precautionary program on track.

Vucic has also faced public criticism for what his opponents call suppression of media and weak rule of law, topics that may arise when U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visits Belgrade this week.

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