British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has appointed a special envoy to the Western Balkans at a time when the region is experiencing "the biggest threat" to its stability and security in more than two decades.
"We have a responsibility to do all we can to preserve the gains achieved through peace and dialogue -- we cannot allow any return to the violence and division of the past," Johnson said on December 2 in a statement announcing the appointment of Stuart Peach as his regional envoy.
Peach's work will support that of the chief United Nations envoy in Bosnia-Herzegovina, which has been in a protracted political crisis as its Serbian entity threatens secession and Bosnian Croats complain they are underrepresented in the country's ethnically apportioned structures. The so-called Dayton agreements that ended the 1992-95 Bosnian War created two entities in Bosnia: the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation. The country is governed and administered along ethnic lines established by the agreement, with a weak and often dysfunctional central government. Last month, the high representative to Bosnia, Christian Schmidt, issued a stark warning that the prospects for division and conflict in Bosnia "are very real" and that Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik's actions pose an "existential threat" to the Dayton accords.
Peach will also help to address other regional challenges, including supporting the normalization of relations between Serbia and Kosovo and combatting organized crime groups, according to the British statement.
Peach will take on his new role after stepping down as chairman of the NATO Military Committee earlier this year. He has also served as the U.K. chief of the defense staff.