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Former German Minister Chosen As New International Envoy To Bosnia-Herzegovina

Christian Schmidt, the new high representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Christian Schmidt, the new high representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Christian Schmidt, a former minister in the German government, has been appointed as the new international high representative in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the office that oversees the implementation of the 1995 Dayton peace accords.

Schmidt will take over the position on August 1 following the resignation of Valentin Inzko of Austria, who stepped down on May 27 after holding the post for 12 years.

"It is an honor and a commitment to work closely with the international community for the future of the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina," Schmidt said in a statement.

Schmidt has been involved with the Western Balkans and Bosnia as a foreign and defense spokesman for Germany's governing conservatives.

The choice of a new representative was made by the steering board of the Peace Implementation Council, which is comprised of ambassadors from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Britain, the United States, the European Union, the European Commission, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, represented by Turkey.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington appreciated Inzko's service and congratulated Schmidt on his appointment as it "looks forward to continued partnership to support the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords."

The so-called "Bonn Powers" give the high representative for Bosnia -- whose office was created in 1995 after the signing of the Dayton peace agreements that ended the 1992-95 Bosnian War -- authority to dismiss politicians, push through laws, and veto others.

The high representative's powers have come under criticism from Bosnian Serbs for not offering the possibility of appealing his decisions, which have immediate effect. The Office of the High Representative has dismissed scores of officials, including judges, civil servants, and members of parliament since its inception.

Russia, which has long backed the autonomous Bosnian Serb region, disagreed with the appointment of Schmidt. It has long requested the post be abolished.

With reporting by Reuters and AP