Bosnia names Serb as PM after compromise on NATO

Some 13 months after a general election, Bosnia-Herzegovina's tripartite presidency has broken the deadlock

Zoran Tegeltija, 58, had served as finance minister of Bosnia's autonomous Serb Republic.

Bosnia named Serb economist and former finance minister Zoran Tegeltija as prime minister on Tuesday after a compromise between its Serb, Croat and Muslim co-presidents on submitting annual reform plans to NATO was finally achieved, ending a 13-month deadlock between opponents and supporters of integration with the West.

The resolution of the dispute, which followed an election last year, could now pave the way for Bosnia to move forward with EU accession talks and with negotiations with the IMF on funding.

Under a complex network of institutions and decision-making mechanisms that ended its 1990s war, Bosnia has a presidency made up of a leader from each of its three main ethnic groups. And while its Croat and Bosniak Muslim leaders favour NATO membership, its Serb community is more closely aligned with Russia and opposes joining the Western alliance.

The Serb co-president, Milorad Dodik, thus nominated economist Zoran Tegeltija as prime minister last year, while also calling for Bosnia to halt sending an annual report on reforms to NATO, part of its application process for membership. The Croat and Bosniak Muslim presidency members, however, blocked Tegeltija's appointment, demanding the NATO reports resume.

Fortunately, the three co-presidents said in a statement on Tuesday they had resolved the issue regarding the document on cooperation with NATO at a special session. Under a new procedure, a reform plan would be sent to the alliance by Bosnia's diplomatic mission rather than the presidency, and Tegeltija's appointment as prime minister would be approved.

Sefik Dzaferovic, the Bosniak Muslim co-president, said the decision was reached unanimously. The three co-presidents had met following a meeting with ambassadors of the United States, Italy, France, Great Britain, Germany and the EU.

"We are expecting this to unblock the work of the parliament and the formation of governments at all levels, so they can carry out the jobs they had been elected for, meaning to implement reforms in all areas," Dzaferovic told reporters.

The reform plan will be sent to NATO headquarters in Brussels a day after parliament's lower house confirms Tegeltija as prime minister. No other details were immediately available.

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