This morning, Pope Francis received the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Dragan Čović, reported Vatican Radio.
Čović is the current occupant of the head position of the rotating collegial presidency. The rotating system was put in place in 1996, as part of the constitutional settlement that brought an end to the 1992-1995 conflict in the former Yugoslavia, which was the worst fighting in Europe since the end of World War II.
Addressing the president, the Pope said that he personally has learned from the example of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially about the capacity to suffer; to forgive and to strive for forgiveness; to come together and work for the common good; to dialogue. “Thank you so much for these examples, which you give to humanity,” Francis said.
The Pontiff also asked the chairman of the Presidency to bring greetings to his colleagues in the office, as well as to the nation’s young people. “Greet the good young people for me,” he said. Recalling the questions they put to him during his visit to Sarajevo earlier this year. “They are,” he said, “the promise of your homeland.”
The Holy Father concluded, promising prayers and imparting a blessing. “Now we ask God, the God of all, God the Father of all, that He bless us, bless our lives, bless our homes, bless our families, bless our children and bless the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he prayed.
Since the 1995 Dayton Agreements, which ended the civil war, the Republic of former Yugoslavia is divided into two entities. Each has its own parliament: the Bosniak/Croat Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Bosnian Serb-led Republika Srpska. The presidency is made up of three members: one Bosniak, one Croat, and one Serb. The members are elected by popular vote for a four-year term. The member who has the most votes becomes the chairman unless he or she was the incumbent chairman at the time of the election. Every eight months, the chairmanship rotates.