Milosevic ally becomes new Serbian PM | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 30.06.2012
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Milosevic ally becomes new Serbian PM

He was spokesman for the infamous Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in the 1990s - now Ivica Dacic is back at political center stage - as the new prime minister in Belgrade.

European enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn (not in picture) and Serbian Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Ivica Dacic hold a press conference at European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on 2009-02-09 Keine Verwendung in China, Taiwan, Macao und Hongkong, No usage in China, Taiwan, Macao and Hongkong

Ivica Dacic

Two months after the Serbian parliamentary election, the 46-year-old socialist Ivica Dacic has been declared the prime minister elect. President Tomislav Nikolic has instructed him to name his cabinet as soon as possible.

Dacic's political career began early - in 1990, at the age of 24, he took over the leadership of the youth organization of the former communists - the "Young Socialists." He worked closely with Slobodan Milosevic throughout the 1990s, and defended the civil war and helped to spread nationalist propaganda as the dictator's spokesman.

Though his career appeared to be over when Milosevic was brought down in October 2000, he is to be Serbia's new prime minister.

Boost for nationalist forces

"The formation of the new Serbian government under President Tomislav Nikolic reinforces all our fears of a democratic regression in the country following the election," said Uta Zapf, MP and Balkan expert for the German center-left Social Democratic Party. "Nationalist and reactionary forces will be boosted - on the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo. What fatal symbolism!"

Ivica Dacic by the coffin of Slobodan Milosevic

Ivica Dacic was a close ally of the Serbian dictator

Dacic received his order to create the new government on June 28, the anniversary of the medieval Battle of Kosovo in 1389, when an alliance of Balkan forces was defeated by the armies of the Ottoman Empire. It is considered a fateful date in Serbia - on June 28, 1989, Milosevic commemorated the 600th anniversary of the battle by indirectly threatening a new war if other Yugoslavian peoples refused to submit to his rule. He gave this notorious speech on the ancient battlefield itself, not far from the Kosovan capital of Pristina.

Kosovo stand-off

Johanna Deimel, deputy director of Germany's Southeast Europe Association (SOG), believes that the relationship between Belgrade and the former Serbian province of Kosovo is likely to worsen now. "Prime Minister Dacic, just like President Tomislav Nikolic, has presented the division of Kosovo as an acceptable solution," she said. "But that's an option that has been categorically refused by the EU, the US, and states that recognize the independence of Kosovo."

She added that Dacic's appointment represents "nothing good" for the entire Balkan region.

Dacic, a career politician, took over the leadership of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) in 2006, after Milosevic died of a heart attack during his trial in the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague.

Dacic then served as interior minister and deputy prime minister in President Boris Tadic's Democratic Party (DP) government. But the SPS was particularly successful in this year's elections, becoming the third strongest political force in Serbia. That led Milosevic's former ally to turn his back on the DP and form a coalition with the nationalist Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) under President Nikolic.

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic is welcomed by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (R) prior to a meeting at the EU headquarters in Brussels

Some fear Serbia's accession to the EU is under threat

EU ambitions?

To Deimel, this is a worrying development. She believes the new government has no interest in coming to terms with the civil wars of the 1990s. On top of this, "the process of drawing closer to the EU and the start of negotiations for EU entry could be seriously affected."

Serbia has had candidate status for accession to the EU since March this year. Rainer Stinner, foreign policy spokesman for Germany's Free Democratic Party (FDP), believes Serbia will continue on this course. He points out that the majority of the Serbian population supports a pro-European orientation.

"Every Serbian politician knows the conditions for getting nearer to the EU - even Ivica Dacic," says Stinner. "I don't expect any Serbian government to give up this social and political consensus and dispense with its ability to command a majority."

And yet, in the past, Dacic has chosen some aggressive words for the EU - he declared that his country would not submit to the continual "blackmail and ultimatums from Brussels."

Author: Sasa Bojic / Alexandra Scherle / bk
Editor: Neil King

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