Serbia gets new government that will pursue EU, Russia ties

Serbia's Parliament has approved a new, populist-led government of Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who has promised to pursue the Balkan country's integration into the European Union while maintaining close ties with Russia.

The government was voted into office with 163 votes for and 62 against on Thursday, following three days of heated debate and a marathon opening speech by Vucic.

The prime minister cut short his previous term and called the snap vote in April, saying he wanted a clear mandate to press on with pro-EU reforms. The opposition has accused Vucic, a hardliner-turned-reformer, of quashing dissent and freedom of speech at home.

Apart from Vucic's Serbian Progressive Party, the new Cabinet also includes the pro-Russian Socialist Party. For the first time in the staunchly conservative nation, the government includes an openly gay minister.