Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic (C) speaks at the parliament on August 9, 2016 in Belgrade. ©AFP
The Serbian parliament has approved the new cabinet of Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who has promised to adopt a series of reforms and accelerate EU accession talks.
On Thursday, 163 lawmakers of the 250-seat chamber voted in favor of the new cabinet and 62 members voted against, months after center-left Vucic won a comfortable majority in elections.
The ministers were expected to be sworn in later in the day.
Forming a new cabinet was delayed to give Vucic enough time to set up a broader coalition as he had campaigned before the votes for a shared responsibility on economic reforms.
His new cabinet is a renewed version of his previous coalition with the Socialists, having the largely the same team, including Finance Minister Dusan Vujovic, a former World Bank economist, who many hope could push on with his reform-minded economic policy.
Vucic has vowed that his new government will improve exports and investment in the new four-year term. He told parliament on Tuesday that the Serbian economy will grow by 13 percent by 2020.
The populist premier has also vowed to push ahead with plans for the Balkan country’s integration into the European Union while maintaining close ties with Russia.
Serbia is Russia’s only remaining non-NATO ally in the region and Moscow still retains considerable influence in the country.
Belgrade refused in 2014 to join EU’s economic and military sanctions on Russia over its alleged role in the Ukraine crisis. Moscow, in return, has supported Serbia’s claim over breakaway Kosovo.
Vucic pledged in his speech in the parliament on Tuesday that he will speed up the EU accession process. His coalition partners, however, are from the pro-Russian Socialist Party, who may hinder the case.