The International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) from Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyzes developments in the Middle East, the Balkans and around the world. In light of the establishment of the government after the nineth general elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), IFIMES made an analysis of the current political developments. We bring the most important and interesting parts of the extensive analysis titled “2023 BiH: Putinians to establish institutional control of Bosnia and Herzegovina”.
Bosnia and Herzegovina held its nineth general elections on 2 October 2022. At the elections, members of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, representatives in the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, representatives in the House of Representatives of the Parliament of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, President of the Republika Srpska, two vice-presidents of Republika Srpska, representatives in the Republika Srpska National Assembly (NSRS), and representatives in the assemblies of 10 cantons in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina were elected directly. Then, delegates to the BiH House of Peoples, FBiH House of Peoples and the Republika Srpska (RS) Council of Peoples were elected indirectly.
Denis Bećirović (SDP), Željka Cvijanović (SNSD) and Željko Komšić (DF) were elected as members of the BiH Presidency. The winner of the elections for the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the Party of Democratic Action (SDA). The winner of the elections for the House of Representatives of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina is the SDA, while the winner of the elections for the Republika Srpska National Assembly is the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (NSRS). Milorad Dodik (SNSD) was elected as the Republika Srpska President. In the FBiH, the SDA and the Croat Democratic Union (HDZ BiH) won the largest number of votes in the predominantly Bosniak and predominantly Croat cantons, respectively.
Although prior to the elections the High Representative of the international community Christian Schmidt (OHR) “improved” the election process through his decisions, unprecedented theft of votes and election fraud occurred. They were particularly prominent in the election of the Republika Srpska President in which Milorad Dodik (SNSD) became the Republika Srpska President through election theft, while the factual winner of the elections was Jelena Trivić (PDP). All this was formally covered by the Central Election Commission (CIK), High Representative Christian Schmidt and certain representatives of the international community, who insisted on immediate establishment of the new government despite the fact that the official results of the elections had not need publicized yet. It is unbelievable that the pro-western oriented and moderate party of the Alliance for Better Future (SBB) headed by Fahrudin Radončić did not manage to pass the 3% election threshold in the FBiH, although the ministers from the SBB had significantly contributed to the successes of the FBiH Government, whose work has been assessed as the best since the establishment of the FBiH in 1994. Hence, Fahrudin Radončić and the SBB have been “robbed” at the elections for the fourth consecutive time.
In its analysis from February 2018 titled „Bosnia and Herzegovina and the new election law: BiH is about to adopt a new 'Lex Čović' election law“ (link: https://www.ifimes.org/en/researches/bosnia-and-herzegovina-and-the-new-election-law-bih-is-about-to-adopt-a-new-lex-covic-election-law/4287?q=lex+%C4%8Dovi%C4%87), the IFIMES international institute announced that the election law would be imposed through, inter alia, attempts of anti-constitutional modifications to the BiH Election Law in cooperation with political parties (HDZ BiH and SNSD), which systematically undermine the viability and integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
At the request of the international factor and specific foreign embassies in BiH, the accelerated establishment of the government begun even before the official election results had been published. The aim of the establishment of the government was to preserve and strengthen the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD) and the Croat Democratic Community (HDZ BiH), as well as to install the so-called Osmorka coalition, which initially included eight political entities but now essentially comprises of three political entities from the so-called Trojka (Social Democratic Party - SDP, People and Justice - NiP and Our Party - NS). The goal is to establish a viable political coalition that will eliminate the SDA, which is the winner of the elections, and the opposition in Republika Srpska.
Thereby, the role of the international community got reduced to assisting the adversaries of BiH and the West, particularly adversaries of the US, with the aim of eliminating the proven friends. The respective policy of the US and international community irresistibly reminds of the policy towards Iraq in which the US-led international military campaign was conducted to, ultimately, leave Iraq in the hands of Iran. A similar parallel could be made with the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in which an international military campaign was conducted to, ultimately, hand over Bosnia and Herzegovina institutionally to Russia. The establishment of the new government is a testimony of the above listed facts.
Analysts believe that the award of the mandate to form the Council of Ministers to the Croat Democratic Union BiH, specifically Borjana Krišto (HDZ BiH), is a strategic mistake and a move that will not contribute to state-building but to intensification of anti-state activities that can be fatal for Bosnia and Herzegovina in the circumstances of the Ukraine crisis. Analysts also believe that by awarding the medal /of honor/ to the Russian President Vladimir Putin, Milorad Dodik has neutralized the US and US Ambassador Michael J. Murphy in BiH. The Russian Ambassador Igor Kalabukhov has transpired to be the true master of the situation in BiH.
The key political battle will be waged for the FBiH. The intelligence operation codenamed “Tower” is being coordinated from Budapest with the aim of destroying the economic system of the FBiH. Namely, more than ¾ of economic and financial transactions in BiH take place in the FBiH. A prerequisite for destruction of the state of BiH is destruction of the economic system in the FBiH, which is the backbone of the country. The FBiH is key to stability of BiH.
What are the criteria for the vetting of ministerial candidates? The ministerial candidates and their deputies were vetted by the BiH State Investigation and Protection Agency (SIPA). Among other things, the Agency looks into data on their previous duties, whether they have previous convictions, whether any charges against them have been confirmed, data about their affiliations with Putin's regime. The credibility of the process is questionable, as SIPA has not disputed the eligibility of any of the proposed candidates.
Western diplomats in BiH send doctored reports to their governments. The US have to “purge” its staff in BiH and the Western Balkans, because the current US representatives lead the US in the direction of constant reduction of US influence. The German policy has already experienced a debacle in the region. High Representative Christian Schmidt (CSU), as a remnant of the dark period of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s (CDU) relation towards the Western Balkan region, has a cloud of corruption hovering over him and this is something that German authorities, as well, should address. The hearing of High Representative Christian Schmidt in the Committee for Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament (EP) on 24 January 2023 is yet another testimony of the lack of transparency of Schmidt's work, because he had avoided facing the European public. As a CSU/EPP member, through the European People's Party (EPP), which is the largest political group in the EP, Schmidt managed to arrange to have a close-door hearing before the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET). This only confirmed the already profound suspicions that his work in Bosnia and Herzegovina is biased. An EP member asked Schmidt whether his actions in BiH are in line with the Cvetković-Maček agreement or the agreements brokered by Slobodan Milošević and Franjo Tuđman in Karađorđevo. “If this is the High Representative, and it is, I am extremely concerned for the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina.” Had a public hearing of Schmidt been held in the EP, he would definitely experience a complete debacle in the European political arena and could not serve as the High Representative in BiH any longer. Being aware of this fact, Schmidt managed to arrange a close-door hearing. It is a point of concern that such a person holds such an important position. Schmidt will soon need to appear for a hearing before the British Parliament. This can be an important moment for the international community to finally grasp the gravity and seriousness of the situation in BiH, which could slip back into armed conflict.
Analysts believe that the US Embassy and the Office of the High Representative should perform their roles within the framework of their mandates and not engage in post-election engineering through derogation of the results and winners of the elections, which not only renders democratic elections pointless and creates a negative perception among BiH citizens, but also further undermines the already shaken image of international representatives in BiH, as they are often brought into connection with criminal structures.
The public is already aware of the publicized “non-papers”, which are attributed to Janez Janša (SDS/EPP), until recently Slovenian Prime Minister. They envisage retailoring of the borders on the Balkans and disappearance of the states of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and North Macedonia. Janša is known as a close ally of the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (Fidesz), who has established a network of investments and a media network in the Balkans. He has established a plethora of media portals that produce fake news and various scandals. Indirectly, he has also entered the ownership structure of some Sarajevo-based media.
Analysts warn of the strong connections between local and foreign politico-criminal structures. One of the examples offered is the cooperation between the current Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik and Janez Janša, until-recently Slovenian Prime Minister and the head of the radical and right wing Slovenian Democratic Party. Milorad Dodik obstructs and blocks the investigations in Bosnia and Herzegovina conducted in relation to the illegal funding of Janez Janša's Slovenian Democratic Party. Namely, through SIPA, BiH Office of the Prosecutor and other agencies, and also partly through the Intelligence-Security Agency (OSA), which he still does not have under his control, Milorad Dodik, has tried to stop such investigations or influence a result of such investigations that is favorable for Janez Janša. In return, Janša, in cooperation with Viktor Orban, Andrej Plenković (HDZ/EPP) and the politico-criminal milieu, blocked the introduction of sanctions by the EU against Milorad Dodik. There are other dubious affairs as well. Is Janez Janša a part of the coalition agreement in BiH, bearing in mind that the attempts to stop the respective investigations or to ensure that the outcome of such investigations is favorable for Janez Janša are rather evident? Although Janez Janša is no longer the Slovenian prime minister, through the European People's Party (EPP), the biggest group in the European Parliament of which he is a member, as well as through the radical European right-wing and politico-criminal structures he is still serves the interests of Milorad Dodik, which means that he acts against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Janša produces affairs in Slovenia and the region (the latest one is on Kosovo) to cover up the investigations in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Namely, these investigations are brought into connection with the funding of his Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and their outcome can have effect on his future political career. A good illustration of the crimes is the Regional Cooperation Council seated in Sarajevo. Namely, the RCC is an example of regional crime under the leadership of its Secretary General Majlinda Bregu, who is trying to get a second mandate in the position for the purposes of continuation of the criminal-corrupt activities. In general, BiH citizens perceive the international factor as criminalized and closely linked with criminal structures.
The relationship and cooperation between Milorad Dodik and Janez Janša stand as an example and testimony of the close cooperation between local and foreign politico-criminal structures, and particularly the criminal structures from the EU. Therefore, it is important to conduct a professional and independent investigation in Bosnia and Herzegovina regarding the funding of Janša's Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and establish whether the funding had informed the results and regularity of parliamentary elections in Slovenia. This is particularly important because Janez Janša has a record of producing scandals and accusing his political rivals of illegal funding. Different researches have shown that more than 90% of EU officials dealing with Bosnia and Herzegovina are at high risk of corruption, while the percentage for US officials is significantly lower but still present. A part of the criminally gained funds in BiH is unimpededly laundered and invested in Cyprus, Greece, and countries in the region. The intended payment of 200 million euros to Rashid Serdarov, Russian businessman and owner of the Comsar Energy Republika Srpska company, could be a form of financial support by Milorad Dodik to Putin's regime.
Although according to the publicized information in the 2017-2021 period the US have spent 80.846.580$ on countering Russian influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Russian influence in BiH has constantly grown. A total of 454 million US dollars were appropriated to the Balkan countries for this purpose. Hence, US taxpayers’ money had be spent to no avail through different forms of grants, predominantly to civil society organizations. In fact, the establishment of the new BiH Council of Ministers is a confirmation that the Russian influence has become prevalent in BiH.
Analysts had warned that for the purposes of prevention of conflict in BiH it was necessary to deploy US military troops to the BiH Brčko District and East Sarajevo area. If the US military troops would be deployed in a timely manner, there would definitely be no ceremony of the marking of the unconstitutional Republika Srpska day on 9 January in East Sarajevo. Next year, Milorad Dodik's regime plans to organize marking of 9 January on the territory of the BiH Brčko District. There are also expectations that Dodik will publicly announce opening of the Russian humanitarian center in Republika Srpska.
The Ukraine crisis is an opportunity for the EU to initiate accelerated enlargement mechanisms. This depends on the existence of the political will within the EU to admit the Western Balkans countries as its members, because there is a real threat that Western Balkans country will side with some other interest spheres and integrations. There is no longer enthusiasm for EU integration. In Western Balkans countries there is an alternative to membership in the EU, because so far the EU policy for the region was based on different forms of conditioning, blackmailing and humiliations and has never been completely honest. People in the Western Balkans feel major resistance towards such a treatment by the EU. The award of the candidate status to BiH by the EU is at least a decade late and yet another testimony of the wrong and belated EU Policy towards the West Balkan, whereas with the establishment of the new government in BiH Putinians will get institutional control of the country.
Ljubljana/Brussels/Washington, 26 January 2023
 IFIMES – The 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.
 CRIF Information Report: Countering Russian Influence Fund, link: https://www.oversight.gov/sites/default/files/oig-reports/DOS/AUD-MERO-23-09.pdf