It took five meetings among party leaders to reach a concensus on forming a government, 14 months after voters went to the polls.
By Drazen Ramikovic for Southeast European Times in Sarajevo -- 29/12/11
The HDZ-BiH says Vjekoslav Bevanda will serve as the new prime minister. [BiH government]
The leaders of the six major political parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) finally agreed on Wednesday (December 28th) to form the state Council of Ministers, in a move that should boost the country's crippled EU bid.
Also during their meeting in Sarajevo, the parties agreed on the laws on the census and state aid, the "Finci and Sejdic case", as well as the state budget to temporarily finance the government's work during the first quarter of 2012.
Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ-BiH) leader Dragan Covic and other party officials said the prime minister will be Vjekoslav Bevanda, whose name will be submitted to the BiH presidency. Bevanda worked as finance minister in the Federation of BiH (FBiH) government, joining HDZ two years ago. Before his post at the ministry, he worked in banking and is considered one of BiH's top economic experts.
At their joint press conference following Wednesday's meeting, the party leaders announced details of the government's ethnic composition.
The Bosniaks secured the ministries of foreign affairs, security, defence, transport and communications.
The Serbs got the ministries of finance, foreign trade and economic relations, as well as civil affairs, while the Croats got the post of chairman of the Council of Ministers as well as the ministries of justice and human rights and refugees.
Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik , who heads the SNSD party, said the agreement is the result of a compromise by domestic political parties, not pressure by the international community.
"We did not get what we thought we should, but no one got everything they wanted," Dodik said.
The key agreements on the laws of the EU package will allow BiH to apply for EU candidate status.
Social Democratic Party (SDP) leader Zlatko Lagumdzija said that satisfactory co-operation was reached with the HDZ.
HDZ 1990 leader Bozho Ljubic, however, announced he may withdraw his signature on forming the Council of Ministers and could join the opposition if certain matters are not cleared up and harmonised in bilateral discussions in the next several days.
Banja Luka-based economic expert Snjezana Stankovic told SETimes that as much as the agreement is political in nature, it is more important from an economic standpoint because BiH had lost significant investments and foreign funds due to the inability of politicians to form a government.
"There was a ˈtechnical budgetˈ which only provided salaries and funds necessary for institutions to function. Now it will be possible to adopt a ˈdevelopment budgetˈ, which will provide investments in the stateˈs economy as well as foreign investments," Stankovic added.
EU delegation head and special representative in BiH Peter Sorensen welcomed the agreement.
"The EU delegation in BiH was encouraged by the fact that a compromise was reached after a political stalemate that had lasted for months," he said in a statement.
"We encourage the BiH authorities to continue to tackle the problems of the state budget for 2012, and [develop] a global fiscal framework in order to fully ensure the functioning of state institutions and the fulfillment of the international obligations of BiH," he concluded.
Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov issued a statement Thursday saying the newly-formed Council of Ministers must make up for lost time and immediately undertake reforms needed to accelerate NATO and EU integration. "I am confident that this is possible and the country will receive Bulgaria's full support in its path to reforms," the Sofia Echo quoted him as saying.
Sarajevo resident Stevan Vukcevic, 28, voiced the publicˈs collective sense of relief, saying it was a disgrace that politicians made citizens wait for over a year.
"I think they agreed at that meeting to give us a gift for New Yearˈs. I hope the citizens will know how to punish this behaviour in the next elections, and that they will not forget the year without a government," Vukcevic said.