- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2001

The top diplomat of Bosnia-Herzegovina — who pledged this week an all-out effort to apprehend wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his senior military officer, Ratko Mladic — has been named the country's new prime minister.

Zlatko Lagumdzija learned the news of his new post during a visit to Washington. He said he would accept the nomination after his return tomorrow to Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital.

Mr. Lagumdzija, nominated as the new chairman of the Council of Ministers by Bosnia's three-member presidency, said in an interview he didn't plan major changes in the centrist Cabinet. He also will continue to be foreign minister.

"We have to keep the continuity started four months ago and work on new legislation that will bring us closer to Europe," he said.

The previous prime minister, Bozidar Matic, who formed a reformist government after winning elections in November, resigned on June 22 after the parliament failed to adopt a new election law, which he had made a top legislative priority.

Mr. Lagumdzija, leader of the Social Democratic Party, said his Cabinet is committed to governing a truly multinational state.

"For the first time in 10 years, something can be really done," he said.

The next chief executive denounced "the nationalists" who "always fought what the color of the flag should be and how many stars it should have."

He called on his fellow citizens to "to give up the concept of ethnic groups being guilty or innocent, and replace it with concrete individuals who have committed crimes."

His reference was to the bitter ethnic divisions that triggered bitter hostilities.

Mr. Lagumdzija reiterated his promise to hand over Mr. Karadzic and Mr. Mladic to the International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

The Bosnian diplomat rejected the comments of some Bosnian officials earlier this week that they didn't know where the two fugitives were hiding.

"With so many satellite dishes, intelligence and Sfor, if I represented the international community, I'd be ashamed to say we don't know where they are," he said.

Sfor, or stabilization force, consists of 60,000 U.N. troops engaged in keeping the delicate peace created by the 1995 Dayton Accords.

The agreements established a national government, a Bosnian-Serb republic and a Muslim-Croat federation.

Mr. Lagumdzija, a 46-year-old engineering professor, has had a rich American exposure, finishing his last year of high school in Detroit and doing postdoctoral work in management at the University of Arizona at Tucson.

His government will try to bring home the thousands of Bosnians who now study or work in the United States and Western Europe, he told the National Democratic Institute on Tuesday.



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