German chosen to lead powerful international organization in Bosnia

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (AP) – A German diplomat was chosen on Thursday to head a powerful international body in Bosnia that is overseeing the implementation of a 1995 peace deal that ended a devastating war in the land of Balkans.

The Office of the High Representative said in a statement that its new leader is Christian Schmidt, a former German lawmaker. He added that Russia did not agree with the decision.

No further details were immediately available. In the past, Moscow and the Bosnian Serbs have demanded that the Office of the High Representative, or OHR, be abolished and its vast authority in Bosnia ended.

Bosnian Serb member of the multi-ethnic Bosnian presidency, Milorad Dodik, criticized the appointment on Thursday, alleging mismanagement of procedures and a lack of legitimacy for the OHR.

The peace deal brokered by the United States, which ended the 1992-95 war after the deaths of more than 100,000 people, created one entity ruled by Bosnian Serbs and one dominated by Bosnians of the country, who are mostly Muslims, and Croats.

Bosnia remains ethnically divided. This blocked the country’s path to reconciliation and economic recovery. Russia has supported an attempt by the Bosnian Serbs to assume as much independence as possible.

Schmidt will officially succeed Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko on 1 August, who has held the post for 12 years. The OHR will now inform the UN secretary general of the decision, he said.

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