Bosnia’s new president wants talks with Serbs

Sarajevo: A moderate Muslim leader who has won a seat in the country’s presidency said yesterday he would base his policies on multi-ethnic tolerance and will not allow any moves by Bosnian Serbs to break away from Bosnia.

A weekend vote in the former Yugoslav state, made up of a Muslim-Croat federation and the Serb Republic, showed parties still divided along ethnic lines, underscoring difficulties in forming governments able to launch political and economic reforms.

Muslims, the largest of the three groups, want a strong central state. Bosnian Serbs, the second largest group which sought to carve out a separate state in the 1992-95 war, want autonomy and talk about a “peaceful dissolution” of Bosnia.

“The red line for us is the talk about so-called peaceful dissolution. There can be no peaceful dissolution or any kind of dissolution,” said Bakir Izetbegovic, 54, who has won most votes for the Muslim seat in the three-man presidency.

Negotiations

“I hope reason will prevail. Everything else is a matter of negotiations and agreements,” he told Reuters in an interview. “Politics can be conducted only on the basis of common interests and I think we do have a common interest [in Bosnia].”

Most analysts and diplomats hope that a voice of reason will help overcome divisions that have blocked the presidency and paralysed the entire Balkan country in the past four years.

Since the war in which 100,000 people were killed, Bosnia has lagged its former Yugoslav peers in terms of economic development and democratic transition.

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