SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Bosnia on Tuesday inaugurated the country’s three-member presidency following last month’s election, with nationalist politicians dominating a body designed to heal the country’s ethnic divide.
The presidency comprises a Muslim, a Serb and a Croat politician. It is part of Bosnia’s complex administration established in peace accords that ended the 1992-95 war by creating a Muslim-Croat and a Serb entity joined by central institutions.
The presidency members were elected at the Oct. 7 general election.
They include pro-Russian Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, who has advocated separation of the Serbs from Bosnia. Dodik took office Tuesday along with Muslim politician Sefik Dzaferovic and Bosnian Croat Zeljko Komsic, considered the only moderate among the three.
A bid by nationalists to divide Bosnia along ethnic lines was at the core of the war that killed some 100,000 people and left millions homeless. The ethnic divisions remain alive despite Western efforts at reconciliation.
Dodik — who on Tuesday also took over the presidency’s rotating chairmanship for the next eight months — urged the end of the international presence in Bosnia that was introduced with the Dayton peace accords.
“I want us to establish a cooperation that will prove to be effective,” he said. “I didn’t come here to have my photo taken and receive a salary … but to help foster an agreement among the two entities and all the citizens of Bosnia.”
Bosnia’s presidency holds little formal power but sets the tone of the country’s general policy. It makes decisions by consensus.
But disagreements over key issues were already visible on Tuesday — Komsic insisted in his press statement that Bosnia should join NATO while Russia’s ally Dodik said the country should remain neutral.
Bosnia is seeking European Union membership but bickering among its politicians has stalled the country’s advance.
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