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An unleashed Serbian minister would create a new political party, he would impose sanctions on Russia


A megjelenés dátuma

Új pártot alakítana a kép közepén látható Rade Basta, szerb gazdasági miniszter / new political party in Serbia

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Olvasási idő: 4 perc

Serbian Economy Minister Rade Basta, whose name became well-known in Serbia for his support of sanctions against Russia, has hinted at the creation of a new political party. Currently a member of the Socialist Party of Serbia under the leadership of Ivica Dačić, Basta caused a stir recently by advocating for the introduction of sanctions against Russia. This even prompted a response from Moscow, but he was not expelled from the government, though almost all members of the cabinet expressed their disapproval, some out of duty, others out of conviction.

„Even the grandmother dreams of what she desires”

According to reports in the Belgrade media, Rade Basta is not ruling out the possibility of creating a new political organization, and will inform the public in due course if he decides to take this step. The Economy Minister also stated that if he decides to go ahead with the plan, the movement will be named „Serbia’s European Path” (Evropski put Srbije).

Basta envisions that the as-yet-non-existent Serbia’s European Path will participate at all levels in the elections if he follows through with his „threat” to create the new party.

He also revealed to the heavily opposition-oriented and often criticized Serbian news portal, Nova, that his proposal for the introduction of sanctions against Russia was met with almost universally negative responses and opposing views from his ministerial colleagues.

– Some, however, remained silent. I don’t know if their silence is support, but time will tell

said Basta, who is currently the only minister within the Serbian government supporting the sanctions against Russia, but that may not be the case for long.

Párt, Basta

A szerb gazdasági miniszter arra emlékeztetett, hogy a kilencvenes években a Kis- Jugoszlávia elleni szankciókra szavazott Julij Voroncov, aki akkortájt az oroszok ENSZ-nagykövete volt, Voroncov balról az első (Forrás: Facebook, Rade Basta)

It should be noted that the Minister of Economy urged for the introduction of sanctions on social media, a call which was also endorsed by Đorđe Milićević, the Minister without Portfolio who is a prominent member of the Serbian Socialist Party.

This could suggest that there are dissonant voices within the two left-wing parties – the Unified Serbia and the Serbian Socialist Party – and perhaps even generational tensions, as both parties are led by relics from the 1990s, socialist Ivica Dačić and „unified” Dragan Marković Palma.

When asked if he considers his public stance in favor of sanctions against Russia a brave move, the minister responded that „courage is sometimes madness, but he is not afraid to make sacrifices for his own people.”

However, he rejected speculation that his proposal was a sham and that the Serbian government, including President Aleksandar , was behind it, quoting a Serbian proverb in a somewhat cryptic manner: „Even the grandmother dreams of what she desires.”

The unleashed minister – New political party on the horizon

Following the posting of the post on Russia sanctions and the related statements, there was a government meeting, and even the „almighty Serbian president” made reference to Basta’s statement.

During one of his excruciatingly dull media appearances, Vučić urged Basta to focus on the economy rather than engaging in politics through social media.

Párt, Basta, Tolkacs

Rade Basta hétfőn (március 27-én) fogadta hivatalában Volodimir Tolkacsot, Ukrajna belgrádi nagykövetét (Forrás: Facebook, Rade Basta)

They did not replace him, because removing Basta, who is „heading towards the European Union” – putting the phrase in quotes is correct – would have given the political West another opportunity for attack. Therefore, the news is that the „unleashed minister” remained in his position.

As for the political scene in Serbia, the demand for Basta’s removal from the ministerial post was loudest from the so-called Socialist Movement, whose sole purpose is to nurture the political career of Aleksandar Vulin, the „universal minister.”

After previously being an indelible figure on Serbian television – who had started to overshadow President Vučić’s „media glory” – Vulin was removed from the media spotlight when he was appointed head of Serbia’s civilian intelligence agency, the BIA.

It’s a shame, because with his pro- Russian stance and „national clowning,” he often entertained the Serbian public and caused outrage among other Balkan and European leaders who were shocked to see Serbia not following the loudly declared path towards the EU, but rather towards the „Serbian world.”

However, Vulin has found a way to get involved in politics again, even after his appointment to the head of the BIA resulted in his media appearances being revoked. Although he resigned as leader of his movement and even froze his membership in the party, it is suspected that the idea to remove Basta came from him, and his „frozen movement” serves as a mouthpiece to trumpet his political nightmares.

So for now, Rade Basta remains in the government, but it is almost certain that his „expulsion” is only a matter of time, as the prospect of forming a new party brings his removal from the government within reach, especially if it actually happens.

It is not unlikely that the „unleashed minister” will be asked to return when he qualifies with his new party in the upcoming – presumably early – parliamentary elections to enter the government.


Dodik travels to Moscow, yet receives money from the European Union

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a megjelenés dátuma

Dodik pénzt kap az EU-tól / Dodik travels to Moscow and receives money from the EU

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The European Commission has lifted the suspension it imposed last year on the disbursement of EU funds intended for the Bosnian Serb Republic. Milorad Dodik, the president of the Bosnian Serb entity, expressed his gratitude to his coalition partners for their support in this matter, while the entity he leads is experiencing worsening economic conditions. The upcoming repayment of bonds issued on the Vienna Stock Exchange this year may force Dodik to take on additional significant loans. It is possible that he will seek assistance in Hungary as well.

In Brussels, they loosened their grip

Milorad Dodik, the president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, achieved a significant result on Friday, as the EU revoked the suspension of EU-funded development projects in the Serbian entity.

The disbursement of EU funds intended for the Bosnian Serb Republic had been suspended since February last year, as the EU Commission sought to exert pressure on Dodik’s Independent Social Democrats Alliance (Savez Nezavisnih Socijaldemokrata, SNSD) due to their secessionist tendencies.

Although the European Union did not impose sanctions on Bosnian Serb political leaders at that time, the Commission ordered the freezing of all projects receiving EU support.

It was already known at the time of the halt in investments, mostly related to infrastructure development, that the Serbian entity, burdened by significant debt due to bonds issued on international stock exchanges, would not be able to compensate for the resulting shortfall from its own budget.

In May of this year, several Bosnian newspapers reported that the leadership of the Bosnian Serb Republic could be in trouble if they do not find new external funding to their accumulated external debt.

While the risk of technical bankruptcy is not discussed in Banja Luka, it can be assumed that the EU, in plain terms, „didn’t let Dodik off the hook” and resumed the disbursement of previously frozen financial assets.

According to experts knowledgeable in the Bosnian financial sector, the EU’s restart of programs has provided a lifeline to the otherwise grim state of the Bosnian Serb economy.

However, experts agreed that the influx of EU funds alone will not be sufficient to ensure the necessary growth for financing external debt. This is because its impact does not generate enough additional GDP growth in the Bosnian Serb Republic to break free from the debt spiral.

One may ask, why did Brussels yield?

The answer, according to many, is that this step was a significant gesture towards the Bosnian Serb region on the brink of international isolation and economic collapse.

Dodik, in turn, has only earned this by fulfilling the coalition agreement he made with the Croatian Democratic Community of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Hrvatska Demokratska Zajednica Bosne i Hercegovine, HDZ BiH) and the left-wing Bosnian party alliance known as the „troika” until now.

Troubles within the coalition arise

The importance of restarting EU programs is also reflected in Dodik himself expressing gratitude, in front of the press, to Elmedin Konaković, the Bosnian Minister of Foreign Affairs, for consistently keeping the issue of restarting frozen projects in the Serbian entity on the agenda during his visits to Brussels this year.

elmedin konakovic milorad dodik 1

On the right, Elmedin Konaković, the Bosnian Minister of Foreign Affairs, plays the role of a helpful lobbyist, while on the left, Milorad Dodik, the president of the Bosnian Serb Republic, needs to be connected to a financial infusion

Simultaneously with the announcement of the financial good news, Denis Bečirović, the Bosnian member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, also held negotiations with members of the Western Balkans Working Group of the European Parliament in Brussels.

Bečirović’s participation in the meeting caused significant disruption within the communication machinery of the Bosnian government coalition. This was because the member of the presidency asked the present EU representatives to impose further sanctions against Dodik, and he described the continuation of the disbursement of EU financial assets as a „terribly bad step.”

Regarding Bečirović’s stance against Dodik, it is worth noting that in previous years, he has repeatedly accused the top Bosnian Serb leader of separatist tendencies and violating the principles of the Dayton Agreement.

His recent actions were particularly uncomfortable for his own party, the Social Democratic Party (Socijaldemokratska Stranka, SDP), as this position completely contradicted the coalition government’s stance, including that of his own party, regarding EU funds.

Although there haven’t been similar levels of communication discord among some players within the five-party government coalition in the past, and the government seemingly continued its work uninterrupted, strong figures within the coalition parties often make comments that indicate underlying tension.

When it comes to separate communication, the SDP takes the lead, as several prominent members sharply criticize the work of the coalition partners organized on the basis of two ethnicities, the Bosnian Serb SNSD and the Croatian HDZ BiH.

The ‘unique word scattering’ observed in the communication of the SDP can be traced back to the fact that the Yugoslav state party’s successor organization in Bosnia, in addition to its traditional center-left orientation, has sought to broaden its support among progressive and neo-Marxist youth groups. These groups find it difficult to accept that the SDP, which represents a multiethnic and atheist approach they support, formed an alliance with the Bosnian Serb and Croatian conservative political forces that were continuously criticized in the previous cycle.

Dodik needs to pay (or should pay)

Regardless of the opening of EU funds, the economic situation of the Bosnian Serb Republic is difficult to assess positively.

The maturity dates of entity bonds issued on the London and Vienna stock exchanges are approaching, and their repayment will pose a significant burden on the budget of the Serb entity.

The numbers speak for themselves.

This year, the Serb entity has a bond-based debt obligation of approximately 1,099 million BAM (convertible mark), which amounts to 208 billion Hungarian forints. In addition, the government of the Bosnian Serb Republic has to pay an additional 900 million BAM (170 billion Hungarian forints) this year based on other commitments.

A significant portion of these obligations is related to certain infrastructure investments. From this year’s upcoming debt pile, a portion of the Bosnian Serb bonds issued on the Vienna Stock Exchange in previous years will mature in June. After this, the Serb entity will have to pay approximately 400 million BAM (75 billion Hungarian forints).

To ensure the financing of the mentioned debt, the Bosnian Serb Republic received a loan of 180 million BAM (34 billion Hungarian forints) from Hungary.

We have previously reported in detail about this transaction and the support program provided by the Hungarian government to Bosnian Serb agricultural entrepreneurs.

According to news reports in the Bosnian press, in order to continue rolling over the high external debt, Dodik may be preparing, or rather, be forced to take on another loan of approximately 2 billion BAM (380 billion Hungarian forints) in the near future.

Most analysts link this future transaction, which has so far been only speculation, to the Chinese development funds that are still leading in the Western Balkans region, due to the drying up of Russian resources. However, it is also possible that Dodik may once again knock on Budapest’s door for a little injection of funds.

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