Bosnia Inaugurates Newly Elected Presidency

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Bosnia inaugurated its new three-member presidency on Wednesday, with the representatives of the Bosniak, Serb and Croat communities laying out their positions on whether the country should join the EU and NATO.

The three took an oath and laid out their visions of the country's future in separate speeches. The Bosniak and Croat leaders believe the country should progress toward EU and NATO membership without delay.

The Bosnian Serb leader asked for patience until an internal compromise is found, accused the EU of sending conflicting messages about its own conditions for membership and called the EU position often "confusing."

Since the 1992-95 war, Bosnia has been ethnically divided with its Serb population supporting the division and the Bosniaks and Croats seeking unification. The EU has made a reform of Bosnia's government a condition for membership. It wants more power to be given to the central institutions but that's in conflict with what the Bosnian Serbs want.

The country is divided into a Serb mini-state and another shared by Bosniaks and Croats. Those two are linked into a country through central institutions like the three-member Presidency.

Bosnian Serbs don't want to transfer any power from their mini-state to the central institutions in Bosnia, believing this would weaken the minstate's authority. They also oppose joining NATO, given its decision to bomb Bosnia in 1995 and neighboring Serbia in 1999. NATO membership also would anger their ally, Russia.

In October, voters re-elected incumbent Serb representative Nebojsa Radmanovic and Croat Zeljko Komsic to four-year terms as president, while the Bosniaks replaced their representative Haris Silajdzic with the son of the first Bosnian President, the late Alija Izetbegovic.

Bakir Izetbegovic is expected to pursue his father's vision of a united, multiethnic country joining the EU and NATO -- a political platform shared by his Croat colleague, Zeljko Komsic.