( dpa ) - The Croatian Parliament on Saturday backed the new government of Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, who said that further European integration and economic development would be top priorities.
Sanader said that Croatia would do everything it could regarding reforms and negotiations to speed up its efforts to join the European Union, adding that he expects Croatia to join NATO as well in April.
He also said that the country's internal priority would be economic growth and stability, adding that an emphasis would be put on tourism and agriculture.
Sanader began his second consecutive term thanks to the victory of his Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) in November elections. His new cabinet, passed Saturday evening with 82 votes in favor and 62 votes against, has a four-year term.
President Stjepan Mesic designated Sanader two weeks ago to form a new cabinet after the conservative HDZ received 66 of the 153 parliamentary seats.
Though the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP), which claimed 56 seats, tried to form a majority coalition to challenge HDZ, Sanader beat them to the punch, forming a coalition with four other parties.
Sanader won over the Farmers' Party (HSS), the Social Liberal Party (HSLS), the Pensioners' Party (HSU) and the minority Independent Democratic Serbian Party (SDSS).
The deal with the SDSS gives an ethnic minority a top government post for the first time since Croatia gained independence in the Yugoslavia war of the early 1990s.
Serb official Slobodan Uzelac of the SDSS was designated a deputy premier. Four deputies were appointed in total to satisfy the demands of the large coalition. dpa ga cc