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Serbia. New government approved, including two politicians subject to US sanctions

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On Thursday, the Serbian parliament approved a new government headed by Milos Vuczevic, former defense minister. The cabinet included two politicians subject to US sanctions for ties with Russia, corruption and involvement in drug trafficking.

Most ministers come from the prime minister's group, the conservative Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), which has a majority in the National Assembly (Skupstin), and was co-founded by President Aleksandar Vucic.

Aleksandar Vulin – former Minister of Defense and Interior Affairs and former intelligence chief of Serbia, returned to the government, awarded by the Russian FSB for “exceptional professionalism and contribution to the cooperation of Serbian and Russian services.”

In July 2023, the United States placed him on a sanctions list for corruption, involvement in drug trafficking and ties to Russia. In November of the same year, the politician resigned as head of intelligence, saying that “the European Union and the US wanted his head as a precondition for not introducing sanctions against Belgrade.”

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Nenad Popović, another politician included on the American sanctions list for contacts with Russia, became minister without portfolio. Popović, “using his companies in Russia, established close contacts with high Kremlin officials,” according to a statement from the US Ministry of Finance.

New government in Serbia approvedANDREJ CUKIC/PAP/EPA

Vuczevic wants to maintain friendly relations with the US, China and Russia

In Wednesday's expose, Vuczevic announced that Belgrade will maintain friendly relations with the US, China and Russia. – Although membership in the European Union will remain a strategic goal, we will not join the EU sanctions imposed on Russia – he assured.

– Serbia cannot and will not renounce its friendship with Russia, whose nation, like the Ukrainian one, we perceive as brotherly. We have clearly criticized Russia's attack on Ukraine, but we will not join the sanctions imposed on Moscow, he emphasized.

Ivica Daczić, former prime minister and foreign minister, became the new interior minister. The Minister of Interior of the previous government, Bratislav Gasić, returned to the position of Minister of Defense he once held.

Marko Djurić, until recently Serbia's ambassador to the US and previously a politician in the government responsible for matters related to Kosovo, became the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Main photo source: ANDREJ CUKIC/PAP/EPA

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