Serbia has recently held presidential, parliamentary, provincial and local elections. The winner of the presidential election was Tomislav Nikolić (Serbian Progressive Party – SNS) who took over the presidential office on 31 May 2012.
At the parliamentary election the majority of votes went to the coalition “Let’s Move Serbia – Tomislav Nikolić” (24.01%), followed by “For a Better Life – Boris Tadić” (22.07%), “Ivica Dačić – SPS, PUPS, JS” (14.54%) and others.
According to democratic principles Nikolić’s Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) (24.,01%) as the winner of parliamentary election should form the new government of the Republic of Serbia. Paradoxically, Tadić’s Democratic Party (DS) which lost the election is now trying to form the government. This undermines the basic concept of democratic election – reducing the whole process to postelection computation of how to gain the support of at least 126 deputy seats in order to elect the new government of the Republic of Serbia.
The formation of the government is taking place under strong pressures from the EU which demands Serbia to start fighting organised crime and corruption, or in other words to launch the “desanaderisation” process in Serbia according to the Croatian model: to prosecute the highest representatives of Serbian authorities for being involved in organised crime and corruption. Being still the strongest party and controlling most of Serbia, the Democratic Party has pointed to the president of United Regions of Serbia (URS) Mlađan Dinkić according to the “better-him-than-me” principle, accusing him of being the Serbian Ivo Sanader. This is the reason why Boris Tadić avoids having Mlađan Dinkić in the new Serbian Government – this would make his apprehension more difficult and put Tadić’s government in a poor light. The EU wants to know among other where the 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.
The EU increased its demands to prosecute those responsible for organised crime 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 has pointed out that certain highest officials of the Democratic Party behave 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. EP demanded Serbian authorities to carry out investigation and review of dubious privatisation processes in 24 companies.
Investigations into above privatisation processes have shown that in most of those privatisations the key role was played by Boris Tadić and some high officials from his Democratic Party as well as Mlađan Dinkić, president of G17 Plus 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.
Should Tadić’s Democratic Party form the new government of Serbia again, the situation will become absurd since the revision of dubious privatisations would be carried out by the same government which is actually responsible for those privatisations The question is how Serbian government is going to pay compensation to all those who suffered damages through dubious and unlawful privatisations. Economic experts believe that the payment of compensation in cash would bring Serbia to bankruptcy. They propose to convert the compensation for damages into ownership shares in certain companies in order to avoid the bankruptcy of the Serbian state while at the same time justice would be ensured and EU demands respected. To this end, an agreement should be reached between Serbia’s Government and the natural and legal persons concerned.
The IFIMES International Institute is of the opinion that at the request of the EU the revision of dubious privatisation processes should be carried out by independent international auditing institutions whereby strong international monitoring should be ensured. Most privatisations carried out in Serbia are not real privatisations but simply transfers of ownership rights without any investment. Greenfield investments are the motor of development of any country, while the state can encourage and support economic development through various forms of subsidies.
With the apprehension and prosecution of Mlađan Dinkić certain high officials from the Democratic Party would gain time while the EU would be satisfied that one of Serbian state officials finally ended in prison. Initiating prosecution against Dinkić would not affect the leaders of the Democratic Party, although it will undoubtedly postpone their processing. Croatia went through a similar scenario when former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader and former Vice Prime Minister Damir Polančec were apprehended and prosecuted while others, who were also responsible, postponed or even avoided court proceedings.
TADIĆ CAN NOT AVOID RESPONSIBILITY
Through a dubious privatisation process and with the support of 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 carried out by the order of Boris Tadić etc. The investigating bodies have not examined nor processed Tadić on those issues yet.
Another dubious case is the sales agreement of 4 April 2006 when Mobtel’s property was unlawfully taken over by the newly formed company Mobi 63 that was subsequently sold to the Norwegian company Telenor, which was marked as state secret. The question is why and in whose interest was this commercial agreement marked as state secret. Where did EUR 1,513 billion of proceeds from the sale of Mobtel to a foreign owner disappear? Why the total sales value of Mobtel reduced by EUR 200 million was paid to the transaction account with the National Bank of Serbia?
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. 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 the former European Commissioner Benita Ferrero Waldner and some other highly positioned EU functionaries 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 will be of key importance to explain dubious privatisation of Mobtel, since he can provide answers to numerous questions and contribute to the conclusion of the investigation on the unlawful sale of Mobtel.
The IFIMES International Institute believes that it would not be appropriate for the Democratic Party (DS) to participate in the formation of the new Serbian government due to numerous irregularities and heavy burdens from the past 12 years; instead they should prove their democratic orientation by respecting the democratic principle that the party which looses election can not run the new government of Serbia.
International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies
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