Bosnia state government endorsed in step towards EU integration

BELGRADE (Reuters) - Moves to restart Bosnia's European Union integration came a step closer on Wednesday with the formation of a central government headed by ethnic Croat Borjana Kristo, months after elections were held in October.

Kristo said in December that she would lead a government that will seek to restart the integration of Bosnia into the EU and on Dec. 15 the country was granted EU candidate status.

Bosnia's new Council of Ministers received the backing of 23 out of 42 deputies in the House of the Representatives, which is the country's overall state parliament.

The formation of parliaments and governments in Bosnia was delayed due to complicated procedures selecting representatives of each ethnic group in the upper houses of parliaments.

Serb, Bosniak and Croat nationalist parties have ruled Bosnia since war ended in the country and their disputes have halted reforms and progress toward EU membership.

Under provisions of the Dayton peace accord that in 1995 ended a bloody war, Bosnia is comprised of the Bosniak-Croat Federation and the Serb Republic.

Kristo, 61, is also the deputy president of the Bosnian Croat's largest party, the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ).

She has served as the president of Bosnia's autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation and as deputy in both the regional and national parliaments during 27 years in politics.

HDZ head Dragan Covic welcomed the appointment of the central government, saying in a statement that it was "testimony that a constructive political dialogue in Bosnia exists".

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Vin Shahrestani and Alexander Smith)