Europe

Macedonia: Parliament approves new cabinet

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Macedonia's parliament has approved the new conservative coalition cabinet of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who vowed Thursday to boost the economy and reduce unemployment.

Gruevski, who won his fourth consecutive victory in snap polls in April, told parliament his new government would focus on doubling the country's economic growth to 6 percent over the next four years.

He also aimed to tackle Macedonia's high unemployment, saying he expected to create 64,000 new jobs. He said about 10,000 of the new jobs would be created by 30 new factories to be built by foreign investors before 2018.

Tackling Macedonia's high unemployment, which stands at 28 percent, was one of the main issues in the pre-election campaign. Gruevski told lawmakers the policies would "bring prosperity and success for Macedonia, a better life for the people."

Other top priorities include tackling corruption and crime, and ensuring the landlocked former Yugoslav republic joins the European Union and NATO. The leader kept the same ministers as the previous cabinet in key posts, including those of interior, finance and foreign affairs. The only change was at the Defense Ministry, where he appointed Zoran Jolevski, the country's negotiator in U.N. sponsored-talks over Macedonia's protracted name dispute with neighboring Greece.

The junior coalition partner, ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, or DUI, holds nine of the 26 ministerial posts, including the ministries of justice, economy and education. The 123-seat Parliament approved the new government with 77-6 votes. Lawmakers from Macedonia's center-left opposition did not participate after resigning their seats, claiming the general elections in April were unfair.

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