- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 15, 2007

BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Parliament approved a new pro-democracy government yesterday, overcoming efforts by anti-Western ultranationalists to derail the vote and force new elections.

The coalition government was endorsed by 133-106 vote a half-hour before a midnight deadline to approve the government or call new elections. Parliamentary elections in January produced no clear winner, and months of bickering followed.

The government will face its first major test in a few weeks when the U.N. Security Council is expected to vote on a plan to give supervised independence to the southern Serbian province of Kosovo.

Serbia’s Radicals, who ruled with President Slobodan Milosevic in the 1990s, had stalled the approval of the government with lengthy debates in apparent hopes of missing the deadline.

New elections likely would have benefited the Radicals, who won the most seats in the parliamentary elections but not enough to govern. The European Union and the United States urged pro-democracy groups to forge a coalition and ensure that the increasingly popular Radicals remain at bay.

The coalition government consists of pro-Western Democrats led by President Boris Tadic, and the conservative Democratic Party of Serbia, headed by moderately nationalist Vojislav Kostunica. The two groups forged a last-minute power-sharing deal last week.

Mr. Kostunica has threatened to cut diplomatic ties with all states that recognize Kosovo’s split from Serbia, while Mr. Tadic has advocated a moderate approach.

Earlier yesterday, Mr. Kostunica said Serbia wanted EU membership but not at the price of losing Kosovo.

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