Ex-aide to Milosevic poised to be Serbia premier


A ONE-TIME spokesman for former Serb leader Slobodan Milosevic was poised to become the country’s new prime minister last night, stoking fears among neighbours and western powers about a possible nationalist resurgence in Belgrade.

Ivica Dacic was expected to be approved by the Serb parliament yesterday evening, after being nominated by new president Tomislav Nikolic.

Mr Dacic’s Socialists formed a coalition with the conservative Progressive Party of former ultra-nationalist Mr Nikolic following recent elections, and both men insist they have abandoned the radical views of their past and want to take Serbia towards eventual EU accession.

They have also pledged to defend Serbia’s interests staunchly and seek stronger ties with Russia. Both leaders visited Moscow following May votes for president and parliament in which Mr Nikolic and his party ousted then president Boris Tadic and his liberal Democratic Party from power.

Some of Mr Nikolic’s remarks since taking office have alarmed Serbia’s ex-Yugoslav neighbours, and suggested he either still possessed a streak of nationalism or had yet to master the art of diplomacy.

Along with Mr Dacic, he is expected to take a tougher line on Kosovo than Mr Tadic, who under western pressure had allowed officials to open talks with Pristina on solving practical problems bedevilling relations between the neighbours.

Like Mr Tadic, both Mr Nikolic and Mr Dacic vow never to recognise Kosovo’s independence from Belgrade.

“This is not (just) an agreement on a new government but an agreement on a European Serbia,” Mr Dacic said recently after signing a coalition deal with the Progressives and the pro-business party of Mladan Dinkic, who is expected to be Serbia’s new finance minister.

Aleksandar Vucic of the Progressive Party said after the signing that Serbia “must have a date for accession talks within the year” from the EU.