SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Newly-elected members of Bosnia's tripartite presidency pledged Monday to end the years-long political stalemate and revive reforms that would bring the country closer to EU membership.
The presidency was the first institution to be formed in Bosnia after last month's elections and the representatives of Bosnia's three groups — Bosniacs, Croats and Serbs — promised during the inauguration ceremony more "agreements and cooperation" that will end the political quarrels which have resulted in economic stagnation, unemployment and brain drain.
Bosnia got stuck on a long path toward desired EU membership seven years ago because its leaders couldn't agree on how to change the constitution so it would allow equal rights to minorities and strengthen central institutions to make the country more functional.
"In the next four years, I expect the presidency to be a strong engine driving this country forward on the path of reform toward reaching our most important goal — to become a rightful member of the union of free and democratic European nations," said Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosniac member of the newly-inaugurated presidency and the only member who was re-elected.
The new Serb member of the presidency, Mladen Ivanic, said "people in Bosnia-Herzegovina are exhausted and tired of quarrels and confrontations, trapped in a vicious circle of economic crisis, enormous unemployment. They are depressed from a lack of ideas on how this situation could change."
"This must change," he said, adding that it is in everybody's interest in Bosnia to cooperate well with both the U.S. and Russia.
However, this may be a challenge because the U.S. and the EU favor Bosnia's path toward EU and NATO membership while Russia, which has close ties to Bosnian Serbs, opposes the country's NATO membership and has recently been reserved about the country's EU future.