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Serb Nationalist Takes Helm Of Bosnia's Presidency


Serb Nationalist Takes Helm Of Bosnia's Tripartite Presidency
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Serb nationalist Milorad Dodik has taken the helm of Bosnia-Herzegovina's three-part presidency, as the badly-riven Balkan country inaugurated a new leadership following general elections last month.

Dodik, who will hold the rotating chairmanship of the presidency over the next eight months, took office along with Zeljko Komsic, an ethnic Croat, and Bosnian Muslim Sefik Dzaferovic.

Bosnia consists of two entities: the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation of Bosniaks and Croats. The two entities are linked by joint state-level institutions, including a tripartite presidency.

In his inauguration speech, Dodik made clear that the interests of Republika Srpska, over which he has presided for the past eight years, would be his priority.

He also called on the two other members of the presidency to work together to speed up the country's integration with the European Union, saying, "The time when we were at war has long passed and this is a serious opportunity to progress forward."

Dodik has opposed any moves to join NATO, calling instead for closer ties with Russia and Serbia.

However, Komsic, who is serving a third term in Bosnia's presidency, and Dzaferovic said they would push for integration into the Western military alliance.

"The future of Bosnia-Herzegovina is in the membership of NATO and EU, these are the guarantees of security and prosperity for its citizens," Komsic said in his speech.

Few Bosnians are expecting major changes following the October 7 elections, which heightened tensions between Bosnian Muslim and Bosnian Serb officials.

The two groups have been at odds since the U.S.-brokered Dayton peace accords that ended the devastating Bosnian war in 1992-95.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP

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