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Bosnian Leaders Reach Deal On Cabinet Formation 10 Months After Vote

Milorad Dodik (left), Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Bakir Izetbegovic, and Dragan Covic in Sarajevo on August 5
Milorad Dodik (left), Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, Bakir Izetbegovic, and Dragan Covic in Sarajevo on August 5

SARAJEVO -- The leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina's three main parties have reached a deal to form a central government, ending a 10-month impasse since the Balkan country’s elections in October 2018.

The heads of the three parties representing ethnic Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks signed the agreement in Sarajevo on August 5 after reaching a compromise about Bosnia's relationship with NATO.

Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of Bosnia's tripartite presidency who heads the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD), said that the accord “provides the conditions for the formation of the central cabinet...within the next 30 days."

After the agreed deadline, “this agreement will no longer be in force," Dodik told a news conference.

The signatories also included Bosnia’s two other co-presidents: Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegovic of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and Dragan Covic of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

The meeting was facilitated by the head of the EU delegation to Sarajevo, Lars-Gunnar Wigemark.

EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic welcomed the deal as "an important step forward."

Kocijancic urged the leaders "to proceed with the formation of authorities and to enable the regular functioning of all institutions without further delay."

One of the main stumbling blocks had been the parties’ divided stances toward NATO, with the SNSD opposing any moves to join the Western military alliance while the SDA and HDZ are in favor.

Among other things, the agreement signed on August 5 includes a vague commitment to advancing Bosnia’s ties with the Western military alliance.

The leaders said they will "promote relations with NATO without prejudicing a future decision about the membership of Bosnia-Herzegovina."

Dodik has called for closer ties with Russia and Serbia and has also threatened the secession of Bosnia’s ethnic Serb entity, Republika Srpska, from the country.

Bosnia also comprises the Bosniak-Croat Federation.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP