Decriminalisation of Serbia
As it was forecast by the International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in its pre-election research, last year’s presidential and parliamentary elections in Serbia were won by Tomislav Nikolić and his Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). In an unfair election race Nikolić and SNS defeated former President of the Republic of Serbia Boris Tadić and his Democratic Party (DS) which had been in power for almost 12 years.
Boris Tadić and his Democratic Party had controlled every segment of social life and almost all the media which they often (mis)used in a Goebbels manner to serve their goals. Despite those facts, European highest officials, mostly from the European Socialists circle, unreasonably supported Tadić and his politics.
WHAT POLITICS DID BORIS TADIĆ REPRESENT?
The first question is what were the politics followed by Boris Tadić? Tadić and his Democrats often tried to present their politics as the continuation of the politics followed by the late Prime Minister and DS President Zoran Đinđić. Basically it a very unclear strategy of thinking one thing, saying another and doing something completely different, which had very few common points with the politics of the assassinated Prime Minister Đinđić.
Basically Tadić tried to present his politics as pro-European oriented, while the “schizophrenic” foreign policy based on the four pillars comprised of the EU, Russia, the US and China as well as the Non-Aligned Movement actually distanced Serbia from each individual foreign policy pillar.
The complete state structure of the Republic of Serbia was under the absolute control of Tadić and his party. The presidential system was established unconstitutionally. This was especially visible in the field of justice and the unsuccessful judicial reform. The Ministry of Justice headed by Minister Snežana Malović and state secretary Slobodan Homen was an illustrative example of the regime-led institution that dealt with politically motivated court proceedings. The High Court Council led by Nata Mesarević created the conditions for that kind of judicial policy.
The judicial reform was not implemented. Re-election was prevented to numerous judges and prosecutors who were not suitable and favoured by Tadić’s regime, so they lost their jobs. They were actually subjected to lustration. The prosecution office – one of the most corrupt institutions in Serbia – brought charges on the basis of the disputable Article 359 of the Criminal Code on the misuse of official position in order to deal with individuals who jeopardized and/or opposed to Tadić’s regime as well as all those who did not give in to blackmail or rejected to pay racket to the Democratic Party. Computerisation of the judicial system further complicated its functioning. High court fees prevented the less wealthy citizens to enter into court proceedings. This kind of judicial system offered no legal protection and sent a bad massage to potential foreign investors. Thus Serbia managed to realise merely EUR 700 million foreign investments, while EUR 3-5 billion would have been necessary in order to achieve economic progress in the country.
The media were “disciplined” and (self)censored through advertising agencies owned by Belgrade’s Mayor Dragan Đilas and influenced by the former adviser in Tadić’s office Srđan Šaper, which controlled the largest part of advertising space in the media. It is estimated that even during Slobodan Milošević’s regime there was a larger number of free media than under Tadić’s rule.
Tadić’s regime tried to prevent Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and Tomislav Nikolić from taking over the government by persuading the highest official representatives in Brussels and Washington that they would advocate anti-European and anti-Western politics. Regrettably they managed quite successfully to persuade them. Similarly, they created barriers for the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) in order to prevent it from joining the Socialist International and the association of European socialists and social democrats.
Tadić’s neighbouring policy supported co-operation, but merely at the declarative level. Relations with Montenegro were constantly tense. Relations with Croatia represented an exchange of courtesies rather than true co-operation. As far as Bosnia and Herzegovina is concerned Tadić recognised and promoted Milorad Dodik as the inofficial co-president of Serbia. While officially advocating territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he at the same time supported Milorad Dodik who openly tried to disintegrate that state. While publicly Tadić tried to resolve the Kosovo issue, in practice he avoided implementing any solution and assuming any responsibility, which further aggravated the position of Serbs in Kosovo.
TADIĆ AND DINKIĆ CAN NOT AVOID RESPONSIBILITY
The formation of Serbian government is taking place under strong pressures from the EU which demands Serbia to intensify its fight against organised crime and corruption, or in other words to launch the “desanaderisation” and decriminalisation process in Serbia according to the Croatian model: to prosecute the highest representatives of Serbian authorities who have been involved in organised crime and corruption. However, since the Democratic Party pulls the main strings in the judicial system, that process can not be very intensive. The Democratic Party is simply trying to undermine the trust between Tomislav Nikolić, Ivica Dačić and Aleksander Vučić in order to postpone or avoid the prosecution of criminal offenders from the Democratic Party. Early elections would enable it to realise that goal.
The efforts to fight organised crime and corruption undertaken by Prime Minister Dačić and his deputy Vučić are certainly commendable. However, in order to prove that they have serious intentions to deal with crime and corruption, they have to ensure the prosecution of certain individuals who were or still are in power. Only this would lead to true decriminalisation of Serbia.
The EU increased its demands to prosecute those responsible for organised crime and corruption in Serbia after Austria initiated an investigation in September 2011 on the purchase of mobile operators in the region, notably of Mobtel, by the Austrian state company Telekom, and after the European Parliament (EP) adopted the Resolution on 29 March 2012 demanding Serbia to carry out a review of dubious privatisation processes. A notable case was that of Mobtel which was sold to the controversial Austrian businessman Martin Schlaff and subsequently to Norwegian Telenor for EUR 1.513 billion.
In previous analyses the IFIMES International Institute pointed out that certain highest officials of the Democratic Party behaved as an organised criminal group. During twelve years under Tadić’s Democratic Party, Serbian government has compromised itself and became entangled in organised crime and corruption, which is illustrated by numerous cases. Some of those examples have been pointed out by the EU in the European Parliament Resolution adopted on 29 March 2012, which Serbian government still hasn’t implemented. EP demanded Serbian authorities to carry out an investigation and review of dubious privatisation processes in 24 companies and to sanction those who are responsible.
Investigations into above privatisation processes have shown that in most of cases the key role was played by Boris Tadić and some high officials from his Democratic Party as well as Mlađan Dinkić, Minister and leader of the United Regions of Serbia (URS) coalition. The European Union has expressed serious doubts concerning the legality of company privatisation processes, including those of Sartid, Jugoremedija, Mobtel, C market and ATP Vojvodina. EU demanded Serbian authorities to declassify immediately documents on the privatisation and sale of those companies that were classified as State Secret which is contrary to professional and European standards.
In order to intensify and expand the scope of fighting organised crime and corruption, the key actors should be prosecuted. Investigations into dubious privatisation processes of Serbian companies have led to Tadić and Dinkić. The question is where the huge amounts of money from Milošević’s regime “disappeared” after democratic election on 5 October 2000 when it was transferred to foreign bank accounts, especially to Cyprus, and what role Mlađan Dinkić played in this process. Investigations should be carried out regarding Milorad Dodik’s suspicious transactions in Serbia and the origin of his property.
The IFIMES International Institute is of the opinion that most privatisations carried out in Serbia are not real privatisations but simply transfers of ownership rights without any direct investment. Greenfieldinvestments are the motor of development of any country, where the state can encourage and support economic development through various forms of subsidies.
WHAT ROLE DID MARTIN SCHLAFF AND VUK JEREMIĆ PLAY?
Through a dubious privatisation process and with the support of Austrian businessman Martin Schlaff, Mobtel was sold to Norwegian operator Telenor at the time when Boris Tadić held a high function in one of the involved companies.
Namely, during his term of office as Minister of Telecommunication, Tadić also performed the function of the chairman of the management board of “JP PTT saobraćaja Srbije” (public enterprise of postal communications of Serbia), which had a joint company with Mobtel owned by Bogoljub Karić. From that period it is still not clear what role Tadić played in the initiation of bankruptcy procedure, determination of the amount of the share capital, preparation of the company for its sale to the buyer who was related to his Democratic Party, sponsorships and donations granted by the order of Boris Tadić etc. The investigating bodies have not examined nor processed Tadić on those issues yet….
The role of Martin Schlaff and Telecom Austria in these affairs is also being investigated in Austria, with Austrian Prosecutor’s Office conducting an investigation against Schlaff and other individuals who participated in these affairs. Besides the Prosecution’s investigation, an Investigating Commission of the Austrian Parliament was formed in September 2011, investigating the role of Martin Schlaff as well as the former Vice-Chancellor Hubert Gorbach who participated in this affair, former Chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel and other individuals involved. Right after the formation of the Investigating Commission Schüssel resigned from the position of the MP in the Austrian Parliament in order to enable undisturbed investigation.
It is obvious that this case encompasses elements of organized crime, which can be further proven by the involvement of former European Commissioner Benita Ferrero Waldner and some other highly positioned EU officials as well as Serbian functionaries in this affair. Austrian investigation will inevitably lead to Serbia where the role of Boris Tadić, Mlađan Dinkić, Vuk Jeremić, Srđan Šaper and others will have to be investigated and their connection with Martin Schlaff proven. The Prosecution believes that the hearing of Bogoljub Karić as the main witness will be of key importance to explain dubious privatisation of Mobtel, since he can provide answers to numerous questions, unveil the role of certain individuals and contribute to the conclusion of the investigation on the unlawful sale of Mobtel.
– See more at: http://www.ifimes.org/en/researches/serbiadecriminalisation-of-serbia-2013-03-25/#sthash.fgJEbHx9.dpuf
– See more at: http://www.ifimes.org/en/researches/serbiadecriminalisation-of-serbia-2013-03-25/