Serbian parliament endorses new cabinet

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Serbia's first female prime minister, who has set European Union membership as priority, won parliamentary support for her new cabinet on Thursday.

Ana Brnabic, also Serbia's first openly gay head of government, was picked by president Aleksandar Vucic, who stepped down as prime minister to take the more ceremonial role after winning an April election in a landslide. But as head of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), Vucic will control a parliamentary majority.

The government received the support of 157 lawmakers, while 55 voted against in the 250-seat parliament. New ministers will be sworn in later in the evening.

Opposition deputies said Brnabic, who is not affiliated with any party, was unlikely to have any real leverage on the work of her cabinet in which most ministers come from Vucic's SNS and the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS).

In her speech to parliament, Brnabic pledged to modernize state administration and speed up accession talks with the European Union while working on strengthening ties with Russia.

Brnabic, who was minister in charge of state administration in Vucic's cabinet, named Nenad Popovic, a well known businessman with strong links to Russia, as one of her deputies. Dusan Vujovic will remain finance minister.

She added that her government would focus on achieving average economic growth of 3.5 percent a year and would tackle environmental issues, including power production from renewables and waste control -- both key elements in the Balkan state's plans to join the EU.

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