Serbia's new PM will "respect past, work for future"Source: B92
BELGRADE -- PM-designate Ivica Dačić has addressed reporters for the first time since the Serbian president granted him the right to form a new government.
Dačić said in Belgrade on Thursday that the pre-election coalition led by his Socialists (SPS) informed President Tomislav Nikolić that they had secured a majority in parliament that would elect the country's new cabinet.
"Based on our talks with the SNS (Progressives) and the URS (United Regions of Serbia), we agreed that they will support the agreement reached today. They will support me as prime minister-designate," Dačić said.
He also announced that negotiations on the composition and the formation of a new government will continue in the coming days, starting on Friday, when a meeting with SNS officials will be held.
Other parties will also be informed about the "main points" of a future government, Dačić added, and said they would be "openly offered to join".
According to him, many parties in Serbia share the common goal of seeing the country strong, defending its state interests, and continuing on the EU integration road, as well as for a better standard of living, social equality and fight against crime and corruption:
"With this in mind we accepted to take the responsibility of me at the helm of the government, if I receive the support of a majority in the Serbian parliament."
Noting that Vidovdan (St. Vitus Day) is today being marked in Serbia - a day that carries powerful symbolism for Serbs and their history - Dačić said that "if we can't change the past, we can change the present":
"In that sense I placed myself in the service of the citizens as prime minister, I will do my job responsibly, in line with Serbia's interests, with the goal of solving all the problems, and none of my decisions will be unjust toward the citizens of Serbia."
Asked "why he did not tell the Democratic Party (DS), that he was in negotiations until now, that he wanted to be prime minister", Dačić said that he "never said he did", and that this was not a subject of the negotiations with the Democrats.
"There's no party that wouldn't accept premiership. That's the logical answer... It was more difficult not to accept the offer, because, what are the arguments in favor of not accepting such a position of responsibility? How would we run for office in the future? Why wouldn't I wish to be prime minister - the situation is always difficult," the SPS leader noted.
Dačić also told reporters that "the reality changed in Serbia" as soon as then SNS leader Tomislav Nikolić defeated Boris Tadić of the DS in the presidential runoff - while the SNS also won a majority of mandates in parliament.
"I wish to still maintain cooperation with the DS, and all other parties. This is not about choosing between two parties, but about whether our party wishes to take the responsibility, having won 16 percent of the votes."
Asked whether the government being forged today will be known as "Vidovdanska" ("of St. Vitus Day"), Dačić said that he did not choose the holiday to make the announcement - but that the negotiations happened to conclude last night.
"Once again I'll say that I'm not interested in a celestial Serbia, but in how Serbia lives today. I will respect our past and work for our future. And I will never allow for the 1990s to return," he said.
Dačić stressed that in the past four years, he and the coalition gathered around the SPS demonstrated that they were able to lead Serbia toward the EU and at the same time preserve the country's national interests.
"We have taken the responsibility of heading the Serbian government. It was a tough decision to make, due to our good relations with the DS, but this is not about subjective issues, or my personal ambition, this decision is significant for the future of our coalition, my party, and our state":
"Had anyone in the world said that Tomislav Nikolić and the SNS were anti-European (anti-EU), I would never have joined that government, to lead it. And let me tell you one thing: this government will not be pro-Russian, pro-Chinese, or pro-American, I am interested only in a pro-Serbian government. I wish to serve my people, and my people alone, and I placed myself at the service of Serbia and took the responsibility."
Serbia's future prime minister also stated that he believed his cabinet would be put together soon - and be stable.
"In principle, we all want to see a smaller government, but there are some structures and institutions that would take it the wrong way if we dispensed of some ministries - starting with the SPC (the Church), the athletes, and such, where every such suggestion meets with resistance. The desire is to have fewer ministries and a smaller government.. We want to form a cabinet quickly, for it to be smaller, efficient, and stable," concluded Dačić.
The 46-year-old, born in the town of Prizren, joined the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) in the early 1990s and was one of its ranking officials and a spokesman during that decade.
Dačić now heads the party - founded and led until his death by former Serbian and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević.
After ruling Serbia throughout the 1990s, the SPS spent much of the next decade in opposition - until an alliance with Boris Tadić's Democratic Party (DS) saw them return to power in 2008.
Ivica Dačić has since served as the country's interior minister and one of deputy prime ministers.