International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) from Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses developments in the Middle East and the Balkans. On the occasion of current developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that is the BiH entity of Republika Srpska, and Montenegro, IFIMES made an analysis of the current political situation. We bring the most interesting excerpts from a comprehensive analysis titled “2020 Bosnia and Herzegovina-Montenegro: Dodik and Đukanović are destabilizing factors in Balkans and Europe”.
The global crisis caused by the Covid-19 crisis has shown that the strongestcountries werethe most vulnerable and not ready to respond to the proliferation of the deadly virus. Despite the disastrous consequences of the pandemic on the economies of the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, Italy, as well as other major countries, adequate response models that could possibly turn around the current situation regarding the depressed economies but also the normal social life, have still not been devised.
In the area of West Balkans, Montenegro and Republika Srpska, as an entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, had not responded to the challenges associated with the pandemic, be they medical, economic or political, in the most adequate way. It shall be recorded that for quite a long period of time and even today Montenegro authorities have been covering up the number of Covid-19 cases in the country. However, at the same time Montenegro approached NATO through official channels in an attempt to swindle and cajole the Alliance to provide Montenegro with medical equipment (which Montenegro did not receive in the end) like the one available in the biggest hospitals in the world, which is worth dozens of millions of dollars. Recently, Montenegro’s President Milo Đukanović (DPS) lightly declared Montenegro’s “victory over the Corona virus”, which was met with indignation, disbelief and ridicule in Western diplomatic circles. What the US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and other world leaders have not managed to do, Đukanović managed to do through a Twitter post, by which he deceived once again the Montenegrin and international public. Despite the fact that in the past Montenegro had declared itself an “environmentally-friendly country”, it is one of the countries withhighest pollution levels. Nevertheless, it is now, allegedly, also a “Covid-19-free country.”
At the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, Milo Đukanović also initiated the process aimed to strip the Metropolitanate of Montenegro and the Littoral of the Serb Orthodox Church in Montenegro of its property. He also had firstly Metropolitan Amfilohije and later Orthodox Bishop Joanikije arrested, thus trying to use Montenegrin membership in NATO and the Covid-19 pandemic, to quietly, outside the national and international legal norms and under the cloak of the pandemic strip the Serb Orthodox Church of its property. In such a way he had made the issue of possible destabilization of the region and outbreak of new conflicts topical again. He also intensively activated his National Security Agency (ANB), which was tasked to deceive the public at the international level, provide false and fabricated information through intelligence exchange, organize international events and petitions of support to Đukanović and his regime, and in collaboration with the Montenegrin Ministry of Foreign Affairs discredit specific states and individuals that had refused to fuel the support of the multidecade political-criminal regime of Milo Đukanović. Under the false propaganda and pretext that toppling of Milo Đukanović equals toppling of Montenegro, currently a vigorous political fight is underway in Montenegro in which other ethnic communities, i.e. Albanians, Bosniaks, Croats, etc. are brought into a position in which they act as the “fuel” of the regime, whose victims they are, and fight for preservation of the regime headed by the person who together with Slobodan Milošević (SPS) had waged bloody wars on the whole territory of former Yugoslavia and who has been dubbed by international diplomatic circles as the “unconvicted war criminal.” Now, the statement of US President Donald Trump from 2018 that “Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people ... They’re very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in world war three…” seems prophetic.
It is common knowledge that it was only due to the injudicious direct interference of Russia in the developments in Montenegro that Donald Trump agreed to have Montenegro become a full-fledged member of NATO. Nowadays, Montenegro is doing exactly what US President Trump had forecasted that it will do and what more than ever before causes distrust on the part of other NATO members.
Analysts warn that it is unacceptable and inconceivable that the commander-in-chief of one of the armed forces of the NATO alliance is brought in connection with war crimes that had been committed, which is exactly the case with Milo Đukanović, Commander-in-Chief of the Montenegrin Armed Forces.
In its numerous analyses the IFIMES international institute warned about the war history of Milo Đukanović and the necessity to have him tried. In this context, the most prominent crimes are the ones committed in Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina against the Bosniaks, which for decades already have been helping him to preserve his regime. The “Victims supporting the criminal” analysis (https://www.ifimes.org/ba/8227-zrtve-podrzavaju-zlocinca) published on 25 March 2009, clearly exposes the role of Milo Đukanović in the war crimes. It is worth reminding that the statute of limitations does not apply to war crimes.
Analysts also warned about the real danger of the unconvicted war criminal Milo Đukanović, in the capacity of the President of Montenegro, arriving to Srebrenica on 11 July 2020 to attend the ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the genocide committed against the Bosniaks in the Srebrenica enclave in July 1995, as such a thing would amount to a moral collapse and the biggest humiliation of the victims of genocide.
The NATO Alliance is aware of the fact that Milo Đukanović, Commander-in-Chief of the Montenegrin Armed Forces, is a real threat to its image and a “stain” on NATO because of his dubious war history. If NATO, which has an important role in securing peace and stability in the region, aspires to build its image and credibility in the West Balkans, it will definitely not be able to do that with Milo Đukanović, who has been labeled as an unconvicted war criminal.
Analysts believe that the leading countries of the international community need to seriously deal with Milo Đukanović and Montenegro, which are becoming an issue, because the existing political conflict and the antagonisms present in the Montenegrin society cannot be annulled without the mediation of the international community, establishment of a transition government and departure of Milo Đukanović from power, as well as organization of for-the-first-time free, fair and democratic elections in Montenegro. Although Milo Đukanović’s regime frequently emphasizes that Montenegro is a multiethnic state, the key functions in the state, such as the president, speaker of the parliament, prime minister, president of the Constitutional Court, chief prosecutor, police director, etc. are exclusively in the hands of ethnic Montenegrins.
According to the analysts, if the West truly wants to see democratization and prosperity of the West Balkans, the key breakthrough that has to be made is to ensure departure of the 31-year long regime of Milo Đukanović, because with Đukanović’s legacy the West has no credibility to implement democratization of the West Balkans and initiate positive changes in the region, which significantly lags behind the modern European developments and trends.
Apart from making Republika Srpska (RS) the largest cluster in the Covid-19 pandemic in the region, the Serb member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Milorad Dodik (SNSD) has also tried to use the pandemic to make additional preparations for a possible session of the RS from Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this context, the only obstacle is the still influential international community, headed by the US and the institution of the Office of the High Representative (OHR), which is headed by Valentin Inzko.
High Representative Inzko has received once again the support of the UN Security Council for the important and difficult work he does in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The constant negations of the war crimes and crime of genocide that had been committed and the binding judicial judgments have prompted expectations in international circles, particularly professional and scientific circles, as well as international organizations dealing with human rights, that the High Representative should promulgate a law related to denial of holocaust and genocide and negation of the legacy of international courts such as the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY)/Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The expectations were particularly intensified after the marking of the Bleiburg anniversary, which represents historical revisionism, and the controversial Catholic mass in Sarajevo including retrograde rhetoric, which was met with condemnation by the global antifascist public, US administration, and particularly Jewish organizations dealing with antisemitism and holocaust. The aim is to prevent negation of anti-fascist legacy on which the modern European Union is founded, as well as denial of holocaust and genocide in BiH. Imposing of the law is not just necessary but constitutes a civilization act and a means of prevention of possible new conflicts and sufferings in BiH and the region.
Milorad Dodik is a counterpart to Milo Đukanović, President of Montenegro, who has been ruling the country as a dictator for 31 years already. Dodik assists in a synchronized manner the existing crisis in Montenegro, which has been caused by Đukanović. It is interesting that on several occasions in his public appearances Đukanović stated that Milorad Dodik was a “problem of BiH“, and that never ever had he voiced any criticism of Dodik, although he regularly criticizes the Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić (SNS). The alliance and mutual business cooperation between Dodik and Đukanović date back from the period of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina (1992-1995), when both of them were engaged in smuggling (black marketing) of high tariff goods, primarily cigarettes and fuel. In fact, in that period Milorad Dodik was dubbed “Mile Ronhill” and Milo Đukanović “Mr. Philip Morris“.
Although during the Covid-19 pandemic Milorad Dodiktried to create the image that the entity of Republika Srpska is an independent unit, which can unimpededly function irrespective of BiH, and that it is the “stronger” entity than in BiH, Milorad Dodik experienced a debacle, not just in the healthcare sector, but also at the political and financial level. An illustrative example is the recent auction of new bonds of the Republika Srpska Government to which nobody applied, which is a clear sign of distrust and belief that it will not be possible to cash the bonds later.
Milorad Dodik procured the tapping equipment from the same country, specifically Israel, as Nikola Gruevski (VMRO-DPMNE), then Macedonian Prime Minister. Gruevski illegally tapped more than 26,000 of Macedonian citizens, which led to mass protest and the launching of the “Colorful revolution”. That is why it is important and in the interest of the public that the criminal investigation reveals how many persons do Dodik and Đukanović tap and whose tapping equipment is used in Montenegro? Dodik and Đukanović have become strong destabilizing factors in the Balkans and Europe. Furthermore, they are the most illustrative examples of “politicization of crime and criminalization of politics” in the region.
The pandemic crisis has shown that the FBiH is one of the most organized entities in the Balkans, with a minimum number of infected cases, adequately undertaken measures and the best financial-economic situation. The FBiH Government headed by Prime Minister Fadil Novalić (SDA),which not only managed to direct ¾ economic flows in BiH to the Federation of BiH but was also able to function normally without the extraordinary tranche from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has now become a target of political-mafia structures, primarily in the FBiH.
The success of the FBiH Government, that is Prime Minister Fadil Novalić, is comparable to the successes of the Government of North Macedonia headed by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev (SDSM), and now Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski (SDSM) or the Government of the Republic of Serbia headed by Prime Minister Ana Brnabić (SNS). According to international indicators, the entity of the Federation of BiH was ready to function six months during the pandemic without taking any additional loans, which is something that even much more developed countries were not. Hence, the entity of the Federation of BiH did not need the extraordinary tranche from the IMF at all. In fact, the tranche was primarily needed to support and prevent financial collapse of the entity of Republika Srpska and the debacle of the policy of Milorad Dodik.
His successful work has provided FBiH Prime Minister Fadil Novalić with strong support of influential international circles. In fact, these successes have led to the conflict between Prime Minister Novalić and politico-mafia structures. Namely, the FBiH Prime Minister had stopped the plunder of the Aluminij aluminum factory from Mostar and is striving to impose taxes on various kinds of betting shops, which have avoided payment of dozens of millions of Euros in taxes to the budget and instead pay “sponsorship racketeering fee” to the HDZBiH political party, that is its leader, academician Dragan Čović. That is why he was arrested and in the coming period the orchestrated attacks on Prime Minister Novalić and his closest associates will continue and new scandals will be manufactured, in order to extort his resignation and have Deputy Prime Minister Jelka Miličević (HDZBiH) take his position and in such a way ensure indefinite postponement of establishment of the new convocation of the FBiH Government, although 20 months have already passed since the elections. In such a way, in addition to FBiH President Marinko Čavara, the HDZ BiH would also take over the position of the prime minister of FBiH.
The affairs that shake the entity of the Federation of BiH definitely need to get their epilogue in the form of an investigation. However, it is surprising that the attempt is to have all the current affairs in the FBiH processed by the BiH Office of the Prosecutor?
In the entity of Republika Srpska the affairs either “do not exist” or do not get a judicial epilogue. Not even the ones for which the BiH Office of the Prosecutor should initiate investigations ex officio. One of the examples is the recent address by Serb member of the BiH Presidency Milorad Dodik in which he publicly stated at a session of the Republika Srpska National Assembly that he had been tapping the opposition leaders and that he personally had negotiated procurement of the mobile hospital, which is at an unknown location abroad. The arrival of the hospital has been awaited for almost two months and no approval for import of the hospital had been previously obtained from the BiH Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices.
Accredited diplomats in BiH, starting from foreign embassies to OHR, OSCE and representatives of other international institutions have an absolutely negative opinion on the work of the BiH Office of the Prosecutor, headed by Chief Prosecutor Gordana Tadić, and the High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC), headed by President Milan Tegeltija. BiH Chief Prosecutor and HJPC President are perceived by international representatives in BiH as personae non grate and they do not get invited to various relevant events, because they are seen as direct “branches” of Milorad Dodik and Dragan Čović.
Analysts and international diplomats are of the opinion that the affairs from the FBiH are being transferred to the state level with the assistance of influential politicians in BiH not just because of internal, intrapartisan and interpartisan relations, but also because of the upcoming local elections, which are scheduled to take place on 15 November 2020. Bearing in mind that the judiciary is controlled and dominated by Milan Tegeltija, who implements the policy of Milorad Dodik, and therefore of Dragan Čović as well, it is clear that at the state level these affairs will be decided by the Dodik – Čović duo.
In its latest report the Center for Civic Initiatives (CCI) warned that in the 2015-2018 report period in Republika Srpska, in which Milorad Dodik was the Republika Srpska President at the time, no less than 76% of the audited bodies, whose budgets amount to 87 million Euros, did not comply with laws and other regulations.
Analysts believe that the crimes committed damaged not only the budgets of the entities in BiH, and BiH itself, but also budgets of the countries in the region as well as the EU. These crimes mainly include high-tariff goods and international crimes which are within the purview of the BiH Office of the Prosecutor, while the identified politicians, who hold public offices, are involved in international crime. This requires a serious international investigation in which the Interpol has to be engaged as well.
Ljubljana/Podgorica/Banja Luka, 30 May 2020
IFIMES – International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) from Ljubljana, Slovenia,has a special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC/UN) since 2018.