A Federal Foreign Office spokesperson issued the following statement today (20 January) on the candidacy of former Federal Minister Christian Schmidt, Member of the German Bundestag, for the Office of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina:
Today (20 January), the Federal cabinet decided to appoint former Federal Minister Christian Schmidt, Member of the German Bundestag, as Germany’s candidate for the Office of the High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
By proposing Christian Schmidt as the new High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany is taking the initiative to place the country higher on the international political agenda once again. The Federal Government has a major interest in the development of Bosnia and Herzegovina and supports the prospect of the country becoming a member of the European Union.
Having been a Member of the German Bundestag since the early 1990s as the Foreign Affairs Spokesman of the CSU parliamentary group and as Defence Policy Spokesman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group from 2002 to 2005, Christian Schmidt has focused extensively on the Western Balkans and in particular on the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In his time as Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Defence from 2005 to 2013, the Bundeswehr mandates for EUFOR ALTHEA and KFOR were among his central tasks. In years gone by, he has on several occasions mediated in difficult situations in the region on behalf of the Federal Government. The Federal Government is convinced that a leader such as Christian Schmidt would be a great asset to the work of the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Ambassador Valentin Inzko (Austria), the current High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina who has been in office since 2009, agrees to and welcomes this change. The Federal Government would like to take the opportunity to thank the High Representative for his many years of tireless work in Bosnia and Herzegovina. For his remaining time in office, Valentin Inzko can count on Germany’s continued support.
The candidacy is being submitted in close coordination with international partners and with the members of the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board which decides on the appointment to the Office of High Representative.
When the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina ended in 1995, the Dayton Peace Agreement created the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in Sarajevo to monitor implementation of the civilian aspects of the Agreement. During this time, the OHR has made a major contribution to peace and stability in the country. Bosnia and Herzegovina has made important progress including the holding of democratic elections and the conclusion of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement with the EU. In 2016, Bosnia and Herzegovina submitted an application for accession to the EU. In its opinion published in 2019, the European Commission presented a comprehensive roadmap for the country’s membership of the EU indicating 14 key priorities.
Despite all the progress made since 1995, Bosnia and Herzegovina faces major challenges. The country remains divided. Ethnicity continues to dominate large sections of public life and government action. All too often, commitments to reconciliation turn out to be nothing but lip service and nationalist rhetoric overshadows society. Progress on economic and political reforms, for example to strengthen the rule of law and media freedom, remains too slow.
The High Representative plays a significant role when it comes to dealing with these challenges.