Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

Conservative Serbia to get first openly gay prime minister

Ana Brnabic Ana Brnabic
Andrew Cummings | 16 June, 2017, 06:37

Dragan Markovic Palma - whose small Unified Serbia party is a part of the ruling coalition led by Vucic's Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) - said recently that the new prime minister "should be a family man who knows what children are".

But EU hopeful Serbia can present it as proof of increasing tolerance.

Ana Brnabic, 41, will take the premiership less than a year after she entered politics, becoming public administration minister in August 2016.

Ms Brnabic, who is an independent, became Serbia's first openly gay minister past year, making headlines around the world because of the country's poor record on LGBT rights.

"Why does it matter?"

"What is important is whether someone is capable, professional, hard-working, honest, likes their country and wants to work in its best interest".

Ana Brnabic was chosen by the new President, Aleksandar Vucic.

Vucic has moved into the largely ceremonial presidential position.

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The nomination still has to be approved by the parliament in a simple majority vote.

"Naming Brnabic as a non-partisan is Vucic's concession to the West and contrary to Russian expectations", Bosko Jaksic, an independent foreign policy analyst at the New Policy Center in Belgrade, said by phone.

When he appointed Brnabic to his cabinet in 2016, Vucic said that he was interested only in her work and that "her personal choices do not interest me".

"That could of course be just a "camouflage" of the situation as the reality is nowhere near that".

Although the role of prime minister is the most powerful constitutionally, Vucic is nearly universally seen as retaining a grip on power via his leadership of the ruling Serbian Progressive party and his influence in various organs of state.

Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic speaks during a press conference where he announced Ana Brnabic as the country's next prime minister, in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, June 15, 2017.

To push forward with European Union entry, the new head of government must lead Serbia through talks to normalize relations with Kosovo, push through laws to overhaul the country's courts and reshape an economy where hundreds of unprofitable state-owned companies drain more than $1 billion from state coffers each year.

She also worked as a coordinator of the USAID program for the economic development of local communities in Serbia.

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