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news 03 Jul 12

US Wants Socialists Out of Serbia Govt

State Department official is heading to Belgrade to try to break the deal on a nationalist-led government between the Progressives and the Socialists.

Bojana Barlovac
BIRN
Belgrade

Philip Reeker, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, is coming for a three-day visit to Belgrade on Tuesday to persuade leaders of the two biggest parties, the Progressives and the Democrats, to form a new government, Balkan Insight has learned from two independent sources within two parties.

“The US official will meet [Democrat leader Boris] Tadic to ask him enter the government with the Progressives,” a source said. Last Wednesday, Tadic told the party’s board that the party has decided to go into the opposition after losing the general election to its main rival.

“Progressives are likely to agree on the American proposal,” the source added.
However, both the Progressives and the Democrats have rejected the option of a grand coalition on various occasions in the past.

The visit comes a few days after Serbian newly elected president Tomislav Nikolic gave Ivica

Dacic: U.S. will not interfere in govt formation

Socialists' Ivica Dacic told Serbian media on Tuesday that he was confident that the U.S. government had no intention to interfere in the formation of the Serbian government.

"I met with Reeker several times in very critical situations and I am ready to continue the talks,” Dacic said.

Dacic, once right hand man of the late Serbian strongman Slobodan Milosevic, a mandate to form a new government, which would comprise the Progressives, Socialists and United Region of Serbia.

According to both sources, the Americans foppose Dacic heading the Serbian 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 oast government, including the arrests of Kosovo Albanians ahead of the May general elections in Serbia.

In June, while visiting Sofia, Reeker warned that Serbia should accept reality in Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008.

The US has been one of the biggest supporters of Kosovo's independence.  

The misgivings in the US about Dacic's appointment as prime minister were intensified after his visit last month to Russia, which recently expressed interest in the purchase of large state systems that have not been privatized such as EPS and Telekom.

Reeker is also due to meet Dacic, Balkan Insight has learned from the Socialists.

Althought this is the first US official visit to Serbia following the general elections in May, Reeker was in Belgrade in August last year when he met Serbia's then ruling Democrats to ensure long-term stability in the Balkans, including Serbia's European integration.

Meanwhile, talks on forming the nationalist-led government are underway in Belgrade. The leaders of the Socialists and the United Regions of Serbia are meeting on Tuesday to "finalise a coalition agreement".

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