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news 05 Jul 12

Serbia Coalition in Place Despite US Nudges

As top US official meets Serbian politicians to urge the inclusion of Democrats in new government, Progressives, Socialists and United Regions of Serbia say their existing deal on forming a new coalition is still in place.

Bojana Barlovac

The Progressives, the United Regions of Serbia and the Socialists have excluded any possibility that a coalition between the Progressives and Democrats will be formed.

The agreement that the three parties have made on forming a new government remains in place, the party leaders said at a press conference in Belgrade on Wednesday.

The government will be led by Socialist leader Ivica Dacic, once the right-hand man of the Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic.

The parties' leaders have decided that Aleksandar Vuicic, acting head of the Progressives, will be a coordinator for the drafting of a coalition agreement between the parties.

Vucic said after a meeting with officials from the United Regions of Serbia that forming the government will not be quick and easy.

"All parties agreed that changes were necessary and that something needed to be done for Serbian citizens," he added.

Mladjan Dinkic, leader of the United Regions, said that a good part of the coalition agreement had already been prepared and that it had eight segments – state policy, economic and social policy, rule of law, the fight against corruption and organized crime, state administration reform, departy-ization, decentralization and freedom of the media.

"A key part of the programme was consolidation that needs to be done by September at the latest," he added.

The coalition talks have accelerated after Philip Reeker, US Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, began a three-day visit to Belgrade on Tuesday.

Balkan Insight has learned that the aim of the visit was to urge Serbia to form a government between the Progressives and the Democrats.

The Americans oppose Dacic heading the government following his involvement in the Nineties’ regime in Serbia, which is seen as primarily responsible for bloody break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

They also oppose his recent moves on Kosovo as Interior Minister in the last government, including the arrests of Kosovo Albanians ahead of the May general elections in Serbia.

As part of the visit, the US official has met with leaders of all major parties in Serbia.

Another US official, Philip Gordon, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, is supposed to pay a two-day visit to Belgrade on July 8 and 9.

The US analyst Charles Kupchan from Georgetown University has said that the visits of Reeker and Gordon were aimed at making it clear to Serbia what the US preferences are when it comes to the policy of a new Serbian government.

But the professor has also voiced his belief that the US officials had not come to Belgrade to affect the actual stand of a government.

"That is solely up to the parties in Serbia and talks between key figures," Kupchan told Radio Free Europe.

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