RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Author)
Almost 14 months after a general election, Bosnia-Herzegovina finally has a new prime minister.
Parliament endorsed economist Zoran Tegeltija for the post in a vote on December 5, accepting the 58-year-old nominee put forward by the heads of the three parties representing ethnic Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks.
"It will be our obligation to work with a dedication to catch up on lost time," Tegeltija told parliament in outlining his government's priorities. "We must unblock the processes in the government and parliament, adopt the next year's budget, and reactivate frozen investments to spur growth."
He said that he expects to form his government by the end of the year, and that it will focus on badly needed reforms to put one of Europe's poorest countries on the path to European Union membership.
Tegeltija was previously nominated by Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik, but the leaders of the other two entities opposed the move over concerns he wasn’t committed to pushing the country along a path toward NATO membership.
While the Bosniak and Croat members want Bosnia to work toward NATO accession, Dodik, who is pro-Russian, has said that he would prefer Bosnia remain neutral and outside of the security alliance.
Dodik has resisted the transmission of an annual plan of reforms to NATO, a move that would trigger its push for membership, which has been blocked by Serbs in Bosnia for a decade.
More than 20 years after a devastating war pulled the fledgling country apart along ethnic lines, the landlocked country of under 4 million people is still trying to shake off the effects.
Bosnia is run by a government that includes a three-member presidency drawn along ethnic lines and two autonomous political entities.
Parliamentary elections in October 2018 underlined the same divisive rhetoric that sparked fighting almost three decades ago and highlighted Bosnia's crossroads -- either it continues to try to deepen Euro-Atlantic ties or its ethnic rivalries further derail progress toward the EU and NATO and hamper economic and political efforts.
The country's Council of Ministers had been administering in a caretaker capacity during the stalemate.
Tegeltija was approved with 28 votes in the 42-seat parliament.
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