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 the recent developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina, specifically the entity of Republika Srpska, IFIMES made an analysis of current political situation. We bring the most important and interesting excerpts from a comprehensive analysis titled “Bosnia and Herzegovina: The final phase of ‘Dodikization’ of Republika Srpska?”.
Although the general elections took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina on 7 October 2018, the government at the BiH level was established only on 23 December 2019. Establishment of the BiH Council of Ministers (although still missing one minister) created the prerequisites for a new division of the spoils of the elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina among the three leading parties: Party of Democratic Action (SDA), Alliance of Independent Social-Democrats (SNSD) and the Croatian Democratic Union of BiH (HDZBiH). The government has still not been established at the level of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) because the HDZBiH has made the establishment of the FBiH Government conditional on the adoption of a new election law. Namely, the HDZ requests, inter alia, creation of a separate election unit for the Croats, i.e. HDZBiH, so that the HDZBiH could ensure that the elected Croat member of the BiH Presidency comes from the HDZBiH. Hence, it is crystal clear that the proposal of the HDZBiH is both anti-European and anti-acquis communautaire of the EU, but also anticivilization as it contributes to further segregation of the BiH society. Instead of removing the existing segregations and harmonizing the legal order with those of modern states, primarily EU members, the HDZBiH’s proposal means going several steps back in an already retrograde BiH society. Furthermore, the resolution of the election legislation for the city of Mostar, in which no local elections have been held since 2008, is still being wittingly ignored. The establishment of the BiH Council of Ministers and the submission of the Program of Reforms of the Armed Forces of BiH, by which Bosnia and Herzegovina progresses towards membership in NATO, have significantly emboldened Milorad Dodik (SNSD) to initiate new political confrontations.
By entering the government at the BiH level, Milorad Dodik, President of the SNSD and member of the BiH Presidency, is attempting to subjugate all the processes in Republika Srpska to himself and his own interests. He started by settling the accounts with his coalition partners. Firstly, the Democratic People’s Alliance (DNS) in which he forced the resignation of DNS President Marko Pavić practically “overnight”. He stepped down and Dodik installed Nenad Nešić, a controversial politician loyal to him, as the acting DNS president, although he would have preferred to see Darko Banjac in that position. Previously, shortly after the 2018 elections, Dodik created a schism in the DNS, when Nedeljko Ćubrilović (DEMOS), a DNS member and representative in the Republika Srpska’s National Assembly, lured a number of DNS members to side with him and established a new political party - DEMOS. Through Bijeljina Mayor Mićo Mićić (SDS), who is also a Vice President of the Serb Democratic Party (SDS), he is trying to deal a final blow to the SDS and Mirko Šarović, SDS President.
The next in line is the Socialist Party (SP), headed by Petar Đokić, Minister of Energy and Mining in the Republika Srpska Government. Dodik has previously divided the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mining into two separate ministries - the Ministry of Energy and Mining and the Ministry of Economy and Entrepreneurship. Through his political sycophants, Dodik accused Đokić of allegedly making decisions to the detriment of the Socialist Party and damaging Republika Srpska. Only those oblivious of the situation in Republika Srpska could believe such imputations, because Dodik is the absolute master of “life and death” in this BiH entity. It is patently clear that Dodik reigns Republika Srpska, including the energy sector, which he manages through the General Manager of Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske (ERS) /RS Power Supply Company/ Luka Petrović, who is also the SNSD’s General Secretary. This is an excellent example of how strongly politics is connected with business and crime. It is incomprehensible that the General Secretary of the largest ruling party is simultaneously the General Manager of the largest company in the RS, specifically, the Elektroprivreda RS, as well as the President of the SNSD City Board in Trebinje. It is common knowledge that the concessions are awarded by the Republika Srpska Government at the proposal of the RS Concessions Commission and based on a public announcement, not by Petar Đokić and the Ministry of Energy and Mining. It is also well known that for more than 10 years already Dodik has been trying to amalgamate the SP with the SNSD but has not succeeded because these are two completely different parties with distinctive membership structures. Dodik has made a miscalculation because, in terms of political program, the Socialist Party is the most stable and consistent party with an exceptionally loyal membership.
Compromised individuals with serious baggage such as Nenad Nešić (DNS), Maksim Skoko (SP) and Goran Selak (SP) were handpicked to execute plans for the takeover of the DNS and SP. Skoko is a years-long executive director at Elektroprivreda RS (ERS), the hotbed of crime and corruption. He is also connected with irregularities and fraud. Goran Selak is the Director of the Tunjice Correctional Institution in which numerous irregularities and illegal activities have occurred. Hence, Skoko and Selak were obviously blackmailed by Milorad Dodik’s regime. Skoko was promised the position of the RS Minister of Energy and Mining, and following the same scenario Goran Selak would become the President of the Socialist Party. If the plan failed, which is what has actually just happened, they would be transplanted to one of the satellite parties of Dodik’s regime.
Analysts believe that Dodik would not be able to carry out all the above described activities, particularly those related to the takeover of the DNS and the attempts to gain control over the SP and SDS, without having a strong para-intelligence and para-military apparatus, which exist and operate for his needs. The fact that Darko Banjac was not appointed to lead the DNS, and that Goran Selak was not appointed as the head of the Socialist Party is Dodik’s defeat as well. The fact that Mlađen Božović was not appointed Minister of Human Rights in the BiH Council of Ministers is another Dodik’s defeat. The defeat of Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović (HDZ) at the presidential elections in Croatia, which is in no way a good development for Dodik, should also be added to the list.
Upon his appointment at the helm of Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske (ERS) Luka Petrović managed nontransparent procedures contrary to the general policy derived from the laws on public procurement in BiH. He advocates models that are absolutely non-transparent and create room for corruption, that is to say, pursuit of goals based on high-level corruption. A good illustration of that is the increased value of the investment in the Dabar hydro-power plant which, after the arrival of Luka Petrović at the helm of the ERS, grew from BAM 366 million to BAM 466 million.
Over the past couple of years the ERS has managed to destabilize the electrical energy market. Ever since Luka Petrović joined the top management of the ERS, extremely non-transparent procedures, which are not in line with the common market models and usual practices, have been conducted. This is particularly conspicuous in the area of sale and purchase of electrical energy.
That is why for a number of years already the ERS has not been able to turn profit, which would then be paid to the Republika Srpska budget in the form of dividends. Instead of rationalizing its business operations and cutting down the costs, the ERS is doing just the opposite and thus achieving poor financial results. The ERS is expected to implement the policy issued by the RS Ministry of Energy and Mining and to finally activate a new investment cycle, which has been dormant in the ERD for the last 20 years. The ERS does not implement respective decisions of the RS Government. In fact, the ERS and its associated companies have become alienated centers of power and do not invest sufficiently in development of the ERS as requested by the RS Government. Petrović has managed to position himself as the leader of the new tycoons in Republika Srpska who operates under the baton of Milorad Dodik.
Because of the inertia at the ERS, the environmental license for the Buk Bijela hydro-power plant has been lost due to untimely submission of request for extension of the license.
Since 2017, Milorad Dodik is on the “black list” of the US administration, which had established that he was a threat to the Dayton peace agreement and everything associated with it. All “black-listed” individuals and organizations are banned from lobbying for their removal from the “black list.”
However, a precedent happened when Milorad Dodik, a “black-listed” individual, announced that he would invite citizens of Serb ethnicity with US citizenship to vote for Donald Trump (R) at the upcoming presidential elections. One, this constitutes an interference with another country’s affairs, in this case the US. Two, persons who are on the “black list” of the US administration must not undertake any action geared towards their removal from the list, and his announcement indicated that he aspires to gain certain unlawful benefits in the US, specifically to be removed from the “black list.” Judging by everything, US investigating authorities could open an investigation against Milorad Dodik with respect to this issue. The question to be asked is whether US citizens engaged by the Office of Republika Srpska in the US are allowed to cooperate with Milorad Dodik, bearing in mind that he is on the “black list’ of the US administration.
In addition to Dodik, Nikola Špirić (SNSD) also qualified for the “black list”. Špirić is also connected with serious accusations of violation of the Dayton peace agreement, as well as certain crimes and corruption. He was recently reelected to the BiH Parliament and appointed as member of the Joint Committee for the Oversight of the Work of the BiH Intelligence-Security Agency (OSA). US citizens and legal entities are barred from cooperating with persons from the US “black list”. Milorad Dodik’s problem is that he has surrounded himself with dubious individuals, some of whom have criminal records and have profited from their relations with him, while Dodik himself is the one who usually picks up the tab for their actions. With their work in the background they had even contributed to Dodik’s inclusion on the “black list” and still contribute to the solidification of his position on it.
Analysts believe that due to the connections between politics, business, crime/corruption and other illegal activities, which indicate a close link between the government and criminal structures, Luka Petrović, current ERS Director and the SNSD’s General Secretary, and the likes of him, could soon be put on the “black list” as well. A logical question to be asked is whether the ERS is involved in the funding of unlawful lobbying in the US, since the publicized funds appropriated by Republika Srpska for lobbying in the US are modest, which is a reason to suspect that additional funds are illegally provided for lobbying purposes and more money is syphoned from the company as indicated by the final annual financial reports of the ERS. It is inconceivable that a high-ranking party official heads a leading state-owned company.
In the coming period, the IFIMES international institute will more intensively monitor the work of the ERS and inform the public accordingly.
Analysts remind that, politics wise, Milorad Dodik is predominantly linked with Milo Đukanović (DPS). They use the same methods and are a product of the same matrix, i.e. school. Dodik has specific and peculiar connections with Đukanović. In fact, Dodik supported Đukanović at the referendum for the independence of Montenegro in 2006. Đukanović publicly accentuated this on several occasions and extended his eternal gratitude to Dodik for that support. At that time Dodik had exceptionally close cooperation and relations with the then Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia Vojislav Koštunica (DSS), who pursued all avenues possible to undermine the success of the referendum in Montenegro. Koštunica and the then President of the Republic of Serbia Boris Tadić (DS) aided and supported the forces in Montenegro that advocated a joint state. It was a major surprise when Dodik supported Đukanović. Since 2009, when Koštunica stepped down and when the Democratic Party (DS) and Boris Tadić came to power in Serbia, Dodik became the strongest supporter of Tadić and the Democratic Party. He attended their gatherings, conventions and rallies. He praised and supported Tadić everywhere. Nevertheless, to this day, he has remained in more than good relations with Đukanović. Dodik always plays multiple political games.
It is a paradox that Dodik allegedly expresses concerns that Milo Đukanović is discriminating against the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) in Montenegro and calls upon him to ensure that the state of Montenegro signs an agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church, so that the SPC would not be discriminated against in comparison to other churches/religious communities in Montenegro, while at the same time he uses the same modus operandi and refuses to sign an agreement with the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is the only religious community in BiH that has not signed an agreement with the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
As politicians, Dodik and Đukanović are an epitome of the collusion of politics, business and crime/corruption, which is why it is of no surprise that they make similar moves with respect to many issues, and similarly treat their political opponents and other political parties and work on their political destruction. Dodik and Đukanović are quasi-democrats who are close to NATO. NATO brought Dodik to power on the wings of the West in 1997, despite the fact that he had only two representatives in Republika Srpska’s National Assembly. By shifting the political orientation of Montenegro towards NATO membership, Đukanović ensured his own survival in power. Both have a kind of a war legacy with Croatia regarding serious violations of international humanitarian law. Specifically, Dodik in relation to his support for the bombing of Zagreb on 2 and 3 May 1995, for which evidence exists, and Đukanović because of his role at the Dubrovnik battlefield and his role as a member of the Supreme Defense Council of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the war in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. There is no statute of limitations for war crimes and threats that charges will be pressed are still present.
Both are in isolation. While Dodik is even on the “black list” of the US administration, Đukanović has been politically isolated by the West for quite some time already. Dodik and Đukanović share a tendency or an aspiration to try to use their influence to inform or run the official politics of the Republic of Serbia, instead of the President of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić (SNS), while their politico-criminal actions seriously undermine the region’s peace and stability.
The final phase of the “Dodikization” of Republika Srpska includes destruction of the DNS and attempts to politically devastate the Socialist Party, which is an act of “cutting the branch on which he sits” on Dodik’s part, because the DNS and SP were the most stable and most reliable partners of the ruling coalition, and that sends a clear and threatening message to other actors on the political scene. Essentially, “Dodikization” is the final phase of self-destruction – for both, Milorad Dodik and the SNSD.
Ljubljana, 31 January 2020