Germany nominates ex-minister Schmidt for post of Bosnia peace envoy

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany on Wednesday nominated Christian Schmidt, a former government minister and lawmaker, to be the new international High Representative in Bosnia, whose office oversees the implementation of the country's 1995 peace accord.

"By nominating Christian Schmidt as the new High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Germany is taking the initiative to put the country back on the international political agenda," the government said in a statement.

"The German government has a great interest in the development of Bosnia...and supports the country's prospective membership in the European Union."

The Office of the High Representative (OHR) was set up as part of the Dayton peace accords that ended Bosnia's 1992-95 war to supervise the reconstruction of a country torn apart by the ethnic conflict, in which 100,000 people died.

Current envoy Valentin Inzko of Austria has held the post for 12 years, during which efforts to carry out reforms to curb divisive nationalism and improve the rule of law, needed to qualify for closer association with the EU, have stagnated.

Schmidt has been involved with the Western Balkans and in particular with Bosnia as foreign and defence policy spokesman for Germany's governing conservative alliance.

The government statement said his candidacy arose from close consultation with international partners.

Bosnia's autonomous nationalist Serb region, backed by Russia, has long requested the shutdown of the OHR.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke in Berlin with additional reporting and writing by Daria Sito-Sucic in Sarajevo; Editing by Mark Heinrich)