Despite fears that, after ousting the incumbent pro-European administration from power, Serbia's new leaders would revert to the bellicose rhetoric of the 1990s, they are in fact deploying a strategy of pragmatism in tackling the country's most enduring issues.

The results of Serbia's 2012 elections, which saw the incumbent pro-European administration ousted from power by considerably more nationalistic candidates with ties to Serbia's wartime leadership, were greeted with dismay in many countries. But rather than reverting to the bellicose rhetoric of the 1990s, as some had feared, Serbia's new leaders are deploying a strategy of pragmatism in tackling the country's most enduring issues.

Boris Tadic and his Democratic Party (DS) were replaced by Tomislav Nikolic, a former extreme nationalist, who was sworn in as president in June, and Ivica Dacic, the former spokesman of Slobodan Milosevic, who became prime minister in July.

During its first six months the new administration has pursued the same foreign policy as the last government: it has continued Serbia's bid to become a member of the European Union; Nikolic, though expressing his love of Russia, has not embarked on an overtly pro-Russian foreign policy; meanwhile, Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia's defence minister, has actually been consolidating ties with the United States and its military.

However, the new government faces considerable challenges if it is to make meaningful progress in dealing with long-standing issues and avoid a double-dip recession. To this end, key ministers have been allotted responsibility for Serbia's most enduring issues: Dacic has been charged with looking after the EU-sponsored dialogue with Kosovo, Vucic's main brief is anti-corruption, and Mladjan Dinkic, of the United Regions of Serbia coalition, is in charge of the economy.

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