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Serbia Names New Defense Minister, Eyes Missile Defense Deal With Russia

March 4, 2016 (Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Serbian Ministry of Defence)

WARSAW — The Serbian parliament has named Zoran Djordjevic as the country’s new defense minister. Serbia’s lawmakers voted last month to dismiss his predecessor, Bratislav Gasic, over a sexist remark he made to a female journalist last December.

The latest move follows an announcement made Jan. 11 by Serbia’s Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who said his country has inquired Russia about the potential acquisition of S-300 surface-to-air missile systems by Belgrade. Vucic said this was related to plans by neighboring Croatia to expand its missile capabilities. Last year, Croatia asked the US government to provide it with 16 M270 multiple-launch rocket systems from its military surplus.

"Ballistic missiles and launching equipment that Croatia plans to buy have a range of 300 and 350 kilometers. Any place in central Serbia can be targeted from Zagreb or any other place," Vucic was quoted as saying by Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.

Djordjevic's candidature was approved by a majority of 165 MPs, with eight lawmakers against.

Prior to taking the helm of the ministry, Djordjevic served as Serbia's first deputy defense Minister and the national armaments director, the Serbian government said in a statement.

In addition to his current position, he is also the head of the Gender Equality Council of the Serbian government. Before joining the government of Vucic, Djordjevic held a number of executive and managerial positions in the private sector.

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