If everything goes as it has been announced, Serbia will have a new government around July 24. A day before that, the Serbian Parliament is to elect the Speaker and new ministers should be promoted the next day. The talks on the coalition agreement are nearing the end, but each successive step has been delayed for two or three days. The press learns about agreements that are made meanwhile from the so-called well-informed sources that generally reveal only what is planned to be revealed. Mirjana Nikolic has more.
It has been two months since the elections were held in Serbia. Negotiations have taken place on a daily basis, and so far, it has been revealed that the agreement has been reached to continue with the EU integration processes, the fight against crime and corruption, and the budget stabilization. These are the same goals that dominated the election campaign. In addition to key points of the current agreements, the SPS coalition, Progressives, and the United Regions of Serbia plan to reduce the state bureaucracy and eliminate the practice of having party ministries and this is what sets them apart from their predecessors. The earlier two governments have been guided by the principle that when ministers assume the office, they have the right to bring deputies and advisors from their own party. Ministries thus become party ministries with limited control options which leads to occasional affairs. Perhaps this is the reason why so far Serbian ministers have never been punished for failures of their respective ministries.
Leaders of the majority that will form the government have promised that professional personnel, regardless of their party affiliation, will work in the ministries and that party divisions of public companies will stop. As the strongest factor in the coalition, the Serbian Progressive Party has a chance to do what was promised. The beginning is encouraging, given that the President of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic, kept his promise and resigned from the position of the head of the party. His deputy Aleksandar Vucic keeps saying that the Progressives are not entering the government to get rich and that they will focus on the better standard of living. It looks for the time being that the new government will consist of experienced politicians who know the price of broken promises. The government will be headed by Ivica Dacic, who has been the most successful minister of the former government based on many criteria. He may therefore be expected to bring together a strong team. As announced, Mladjan Dinkic will be taking over the ministry of finance, the hot seat in the future government. Many say that Dinkic is, however, the only one able to do something with an almost empty state’s coffers. Let us remind you that he was the one who introduced the fiscal processes in Serbia, worked to reduce the gray economy, and reformed the banking sector. There are, however, different views on the extent of his success and where the Serbian economy ended during the time when he was the line minister, but it must be admitted that he is one of the few people willing to undertake radical measures.
The government, however, should first be formed. As previously announced, the coalition agreement will include both economic and social policies, as well as the establishment of the rule of law, decentralization, and the freedom of the media. There has been no mention about territorial integrity or a position on Kosovo these days. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip Gordon is coming to Belgrade on July 9 and will have talks with senior government officials to convey the U.S. support to the formation of the new government, the State Department communicated. It is expected that he would once again ask the Serbian politicians guarantee that talks with Pristina will continue and previous agreements will be observed. A lot of work is ahead of the new Serbian government, and the time passes, for the announced foreign investments, as well as for the continuation of talks on Kosovo and Metohija, economic recovery, and improvement in standard of living.