Turkey on Monday hailed local elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s historic city of Mostar after more than a decade.

“We welcome that first local elections in Mostar in 12 years were held in a peaceful and calm atmosphere,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement, referring to the polls held on Sunday.

In June, the country’s main Bosniak and Croat parties reached an agreement to hold a vote in the ethnically-divided city.

“Holding the elections was a positive step towards strengthening the functionality of the democratic institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We hope that the election results will contribute to strengthening peace and stability in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the Balkans,” the ministry said.

Turkey will continue to support the development of Bosnia and Herzegovina “in unity and solidarity,” it added.

Ethnic division

After 2008, polls were due in 2012. However, due to disagreements in the House of Representatives, a court declared the city’s electoral law unconstitutional.

This has led to severe management issues in the city administratively divided into six municipalities equally between Bosnians and Croats since the 1995 Bosnian War.

In 2004, former High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina Paddy Ashdown initiated an effort to bridge differences between the two sides by issuing a new statute aimed at establishing a single municipality in Mostar.

But regulations could not be confirmed and put into place due to opposition by Croats who feared Bosnians could get equal or even more rights in parts of the city where Croats enjoy a majority.

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