There have been claims and counter claims that Bosnia is placing Bosnia Croats and Croatian government officials and business officials under strict surveillance. This recent row is one of the many pointers that indicate the conflict in the Balkan region is far from over.
A case was brought to the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina claiming the country’s intelligence agency (Obavještajno-sigurnosne agencije: OSA) is eavesdropping on prominent businesspeople and government officials of Croatian descent in Bosnia and Herzegovina under surveillance to avoid undermining the economy of the country. In response to the lawsuit, the court said,
“In accordance with the Law on Protection of the Secret Data and the Law on the Intelligence and Security Agency, the Court would violate the law if it were to answer the questions raised.”
Source: Total Croatia News
According to a report by Vecernji List on 22nd September 2017, some of those targeted include the directors of Velpro, Konzum, and Aluminium in Bosnia. The eavesdropping is said to be in connection with the Mostar Aluminium plant under privatization as well as the Electric Company of Herzeg Bosna.
The Deputy Minister of Security, Mijo Kresic, denied knowledge of any such operation and stated categorically that he was unaware of any of such secret operation embarked upon by the OSA. He further commented on the implication of such an operation.
“The fact is that there has been lots of pressure on Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina in recent times, in particular on those holding posts at different levels. The OSA must not take part in such activities because we will all pay the price for these abuses. The OSA is not a private institution, but a government agency financed by taxpayers.”
Source: Total Croatia News
Dragan Mektic, Bosnia and Herzegovina Security Minister has hinted that the intelligence agencies of Croatia and Bosnia have been working together and has concluded there was no form of illegal wire-tapping of Croatian businesspeople and politicians. They dismissed the media buzz as insinuations. Mektic was quoted as saying,
“There is no intelligence scandal and all services are working in line with the law. The cooperation between the two services is very good and will continue in the future. We also agreed that it was necessary to defuse this media-contrived scandal”
Some people believe the spying row is just a means of distraction from Croatia as it braces up for war crime charges whose ruling can be devastating to the country. Hence, the spying allegations is a way of putting Bosnia on the defensive.
The allegation that was most controversial was that within the OSA there where smaller parastructures made up of Bosnian Serb service and AID (the former Bosniak secret service). In the past 2 years, there have been series of attempts to compromise the integrity of Croatian officials. The key target has been Dragan Covic, a Bosnia and Herzegovina resident Croatian leader.
There was an attempt to link him with the murder of the Internal Minister, Jozo Leutar. There was also an attempt to link him with dismissed Kemal?auševi?, the director of Indirect Taxation Administration accused of corruption. There was a further claim that his associates were implicated with kidnappings.
The Croats in Bosnia and Herzegovina have been charged with thwarting the plans of the country to gain EU and NATO membership.
It is unfortunate that the current scandal comes at a time that further complicates the relationship between both countries as well as compounds the woes of Croatian leader Dragan Covic And Bosniak leader Bakir Izetbegovic. Who made changes to the electoral law that made Serbs and Bosniaks equal with Bosnian Croats.
There is also a stiff disagreement coming from both countries concerning the danger and number of radical Islamist residing in Bosnia. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Croatian president has often accused Bosnia of harboring radical Islamists that pose great danger to the Balkans.