Miroslav Lajcak, a Slovak diplomat, is the sixth international High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mandated to oversee the Bosnian peace process, he has the power to impose laws, to overrule the Bosnian parliament and to sack elected Bosnian officials. Given these wide-ranging powers, the role of the High Representative has become increasingly controversial.
Lajcak has held the post since June 2007, serving simultaneously as the EU's Special Representative. He knows South East Europe well, having been the EU's special envoy during the May 2006 independence referendum in Montenegro and Slovakia's ambassador to Serbia and Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia. He speaks the local languages fluently.
Lajcak sees his role as being less interventionist than some of his predecessors. Faced with widespread criticism by Bosnians of their political leaders, Lajcak maintains:
"Among these people there may be some who appeal to us more and others less, but they have all been elected legitimately. The institutions in this country function, and we must trust in them and help them."
Miroslav Lajcak in the Bosnian news
However, Lajcak believes that there is still a need for the High Representative:
"There are two things which show this. Firstly, the people do not have sufficient trust in their own politicians and their own institutions and see the High Representative as providing a certain guarantee for their interests. Secondly, many local politicians are not mature enough to make responsible decisions that are clearly difficult, but also important. It is easier for them if they can hide behind the High Representative. Unfortunately, I feel that there is still a great need for this institution."
"Today, almost everything is defined along the lines of either entities or ethnicities. It is therefore difficult for anyone, be they politicians or intellectuals, to rise above this divide. This is why there are few people who have the credibility to speak in the name of the state and be accepted by all sides."