BELGRADE (Reuters) – Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Saturday nominated Ana Brnabic to serve another term as prime minister and to lead a new government through a time of war in Europe, global energy and inflation crises and tensions with Kosovo.
The nomination came more than five months after their party, the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), won the most votes in a national election. The formal announcement of results was delayed by voting irregularities at one polling station, preventing parliament from being convened.
Vucic, who leads the SNS and wields considerable influence over government policies, said he had “limitless trust” in Brnabic, 46, who became Serbia’s first female and an openly gay premier in 2020.
He also said the new government would face a major overhaul in 2024, two years before the end of its mandate, but did not elaborate.
“It is important that she remains prime minister so we can continue to work diligently and solve problems for fall and winter,” Vucic told reporters.
The ruling party has 120 seats in the 250-seat parliament and will have to seek partners to form a government. The Socialists and the List Of Vojvodina Hungarians, both traditional partners of the SNS, have 31 and five deputies respectively.
Brnabic is expected to present a new cabinet and policy programme to parliament in the coming weeks. One of her main tasks on the world stage will be to balance Serbia’s candidacy to join the European Union, its biggest trading partner, with pressures to preserve ties with Russia and China.
Serbia is almost entirely dependent on Russian gas and has bought weapons from Russia, while China is a major investor.
Although Serbia has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations, it refused to join sanctions against Moscow.
Both Beijing and Moscow support Serbia’s opposition to the independence of Kosovo, Belgrade’s former southern province. Vucic said that talks over the status of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo mediated by the EU and the United States had failed to ease tensions between Serbia and Kosovo – fueled by a dispute over car number plates and personal documents.
Serbian authorities would cancel or postpone the Euro Pride gay rights march scheduled for September 17, Vucic said, citing the threats of violence from right-wing hooligans and “more pressing issues” such as Kosovo and energy crises.
“It (Euro Pride) will happen but in some other and happier time,” he said.
Far-right political parties and the influential Serbian Orthodox Church have condemned the event, urging for it to be banned. The Serbian government banned pride parades in the past, drawing criticism from human rights groups and the EU.
Marko Mihailovic, director of Belgrade Pride, said the government could not cancel or postpone the event, only “try to ban it.”
“The Euro Pride will be held on September 17 in front of the national parliament,” the Vreme website quoted him as saying.
(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Pravin Char and Ros Russell)