Bosnian-Serb wins PM nod in Sarajevo
Bosnia-Herzegovina has nominated Bosnian-Serb nationalist Zoran Tegeltija as prime minister in a bid to end a year of political deadlock.
Tegeltija is an ally of far-right Milorad Dodik (pictured), the Serb member of the Bosnian tripartite presidency and head of Republika Srpska’s ruling party, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), of which Tegeltija is a member.
Tegeltija was named by the three-member presidency to be the new head of the Council of Ministers, which is Bosnia-Herzegovina’s de-facto government.
The appointment of Tegeltija must be confirmed by the parliament in Sarajevo.
The formation of a government has been blocked since an October 2018 vote over disagreements on the level of cooperation with Nato.
The SNSD declared Republika Srpska’s neutrality in 2017 and has blocked moves towards Bosnia-Herzegovina acquiring Nato membership.
Dodik has reportedly agreed to allow the process of Nato membership to continue, removing obstacles from Bosniak and Croat politicians to Tegeltija premiership bid.
Bosnia’s yearlong lack of a government has stalled recovery after the devastating 1992-95 war.
The US Embassy praised the deal nominating of the 58-year-old Tegeltija. The Sarajevo mission announcing that it “achieves the key objectives of government formation” and continuing the former Yugoslav republic’s “partnership and cooperation with Nato”.
Dodik faced the imposition of US sanctions in 2017 for actively obstructing efforts to implement the 1995 Dayton peace deal that ended the Bosnian war.
Dodik threatened to withdraw from agreements on Bosnia-Herzegovina’s armed forces, tax authorities and legal system.
The Bosnia-Serb nationalists are also establishing closer ties with Russia. The SNSD has signed cooperation deals with United Ossetia, the unofficial ruling party in Georgia’s region of South Ossetia, which was seized by Russia in 2008.
The SNSD has established links with representatives of President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.
Tegeltija is an economist from Republika Srpska’s western region of Bosanska Krajina where Bosnian Serbs were butchered by Croat and Bosnian-Croat militias at the end of the Bosnian civil war.
In his hometown of Mrkonjic Grad the memories of the war are still fresh.
The town had been under the control of Bosnian Serb forces but in October 1995 it was seized by Croatia’s army and Bosnian-Croat forces in the Operation Southern Move offensive.
They retreated from the area under US pressure after just five days.
In April 1996, the Bosnian-Serb authorities uncovered two mass graves in Mrkonjic Grad containing 181 Bosnian-Serb corpses.
About half of the bodies were civilians.
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets the president of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik. Picture credit: Kremlin