Bosnia's new PM takes office, pledges EU-backed reforms

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 11, 2015 10:41 AM

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnia's parliament approved Denis Zvizdic as prime minister on Wednesday after he promised to unblock the Balkan country's stalled bid to join the European Union and push through reforms sought by the bloc.

The approval came some four months after Bosnia's elections despite EU pleas for swift action. Bickering over jobs has slowed the formation of new governments at different layers of Bosnia's complex system, a legacy of a peace accord that ended its 1992-95 war and split power along ethnic lines.

"The period ahead of us is one that should bring about change, reforms and economic development and I will do my best to make a shift from daily politicking to real economic and social issues," Zvizdic, a Muslim Bosniak, told lawmakers.

Twenty-eight lawmakers in the 42-seat assembly backed Zvizdic for the post, five voted against and two abstained.

Deputies of two Bosnian Serb parties walked out of the chamber before the vote after their request to discuss charges against the parliamentary speaker was denied.

Deputies from Bosnian Serb President Milorad Dodik's SNSD party, which is not part of the ruling coalition in parliament, have said they will oppose any national legislation they see as undermining the interests of the Serb Republic.

Zvizdic, a former architecture professor, pledged to respect the authority of Bosnia's two constituent autonomous units, the Bosniak-Croat Federation and the Serb Republic, and said he would try to ease political relations within the country.

Bosnia's unwieldy system of ethnic power-sharing has slowed reforms, stifled development and left the country trailing its ex-Yugoslav peers on the road to EU membership.

Zvizdic, 50, was nominated by the largest Muslim Bosniak party, SDA, as part of the ethnic power-sharing deal. He has previously served as the Sarajevo cantonal prime minister and as the parliamentary speaker of the Federation.

Critics say his track record is poor and have voiced doubts about his ability to lead Bosnia decisively along a reform path.

(Reporting by Maja Zuvela: Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Gareth Jones)