German chosen to lead powerful international body in Bosnia

File – In this Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017 file photo Christian Schmidt, at this time German Minister of Food and Agriculture, addresses the media during a news conference in Berlin, Germany. Christian Schmidt is candidate for the post of High Representative of the International Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn, file)

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — A German diplomat was chosen Thursday to head a powerful international body in Bosnia that oversees implementation of a 1995 peace agreement that ended a devastating war in the Balkan country.

The Office of the High Representative said in a statement that its new leader is Christian Schmidt, a former German lawmaker. It added that Russia didn’t agree with the decision.

No other details were immediately available. Both Moscow and Serbs in Bosnia in the past have demanded that the Office of the High Representative, or OHR, be abolished and its wide-reaching authority in Bosnia ended.

The Bosnian Serb member of Bosnia’s multi-ethnic presidency, Milorad Dodik, on Thursday criticized the appointment, alleging procedural mishandling and lack of legitimacy of the OHR.

The U.S.-brokered peace deal, which ended the 1992-95 war after more than 100,000 people died, established an entity run by Bosnia’s Serbs and another one dominated by the country’s Bosniaks, who are mostly Muslims, and Croats.

Bosnia still remains ethnically divided. This has blocked the country’s path toward reconciliation and economic recovery. Russia has backed a Bosnian Serb bid to assume as much independence as possible.

Schmidt formally will take over on Aug. 1 from Austrian diplomat Valentin Inzko, who has held the post for the past 12 years. The OHR will now inform the U.N. secretary-general of the decision, it said.

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