The European Commission and the United States welcomed on Wednesday an agreement reached within Bosnia’s tripartite presidency to appoint a new Chairman of the Council of Ministers – effectively Bosnia’s prime minister – more than a year after the country voted in elections.
The appointment of Bosnian Serb Zoran Tegeltija, announced on Tuesday, clears the way for a government to be formed.
“The formation of the new executive and legislative authorities is crucial for the country’s advancement in the European Union integration process,” Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said. “They will need to address the key priorities identified in the Commission Opinion on its EU membership application of May 2019.”
Kocijancic added that the Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, expects tangible progress on Bosnia’s EU path, citing the need for concrete steps on judicial reform, the fight against corruption and organised crime, migration management and socio-economic reforms.
The US embassy in Bosnia said Tegeltija’s appointment was a boost for Bosnia’s cooperation with NATO, the major sticking point in months of negotiations between the country’s three main nationalist parties over the formation of a coalition government after an election in October 2018.
“We welcome the agreement reached by the members of the Presidency, which achieves the key objectives of government formation and continuing Bosnia’s partnership and cooperation with NATO,” the embassy tweeted. “It will also unlock much-needed defence reforms.”
NATO sticking point
According to the deal reached on Tuesday within the presidency, when the Bosnian parliament confirms Tegeltija as prime minister, the following day Bosnia’s Permanent Mission to NATO will submit a so-called Reform Program, part of Bosnia’s roadmap to NATO.
The content of the document is still not known, but it will almost certainly be hailed by Bosniak and Croat leaders in Bosnia as a new step towards accession to the military alliance, something Serb leaders say they will never allow.
Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of the Bosnian presidency and head of the ruling party in the Republika Srpska, faced calls from Serb political opponents to explain what he had signed up to.