Monitor weekly, 17 December 2010
Sanader & Djukanovic & Thaci
Former Croatian prime minister was arrested, as in some action film, in Austria after the homeland issued an arrest warrant against him. Ivo Sanader is awaiting extradition and is willing, he says, to respond in Croatia to corruption charges. A day or two before his arrest, when he was stripped of immunity in the Parliament, Sanader headed across the border. He thought that he could watch the process from America. The plan failed because the U.S. denied him hospitality, while the Austrian buddies took him liberty. Just a year earlier, Washington and Vienna elevated him to stardom.
The winner of recent elections in Kosovo, prime minister Hashim Thaci, did not have time to celebrate. The day after his victory, a report of Dick Marty, rapporteur of the Council of Europe, well known for uncovering secret U.S. prisons on our continent, was published. Marty portrayed Thaci as the man who heads a mafia-like organization, responsible for smuggling weapons, drugs and, like in a horror movie, the human organs.
Marty thus confirmed suspicions of Carla del Ponte1 – Thaci, as the leader of the Drenica group, organised in the nineties the abduction of people and the sending of prisoners to Albania, where their organs were forcibly extracted.
In the Balkans, life is scarier than fiction. Along with crimes and wars of the nineties, in most countries of the former Yugoslavia, systems evolved based on cleptocracy, organized crime and alleged patriotism. On the ruins of Yugoslavia, sprouted elites whose place is either in prison or in mental hospital.
Unfettered power of these elites persevered thanks to vast wealth. Officials from Zagreb to Pristina transferred national resources into their own hands and in the hands of the selected few. A gigantic contributor to the cementing of power has been the army of the always handy propagandists in media, cathedras for history and politics, analysts of all types.. They depict the leaders as the Messiahs, and opponents and witnesses of crime as criminals. And, finally, there is the force of the impoverished mass, which has verified through ballots the fraud that in power are liberators, guarantors of preservation of the endangered state.
Of course, the international community also bears huge responsibility for the Balkan gloom. "I read those reports with a sense of deep revulsion and moral shame" - Marti said about the pages that the western analysts had previously written on Thaci in secret reports. They knew everything, but played on Thaci. Marty reveals the truth which the diplomats privately admit – the West in Kosovo favours stability over justice - claims a Reuters analysis. As if there can be stability without justice.
Diplomats that in Podgorica publicly praise Djukanovic, will tell you privately that Montenegro, by the nature of its system, is closer to Kosovo than to Croatia. Djukanovic would be singing if his government's main problem were its operations with the marketing agency of his close friends, or his links with the Hypo Alpe Adria Bank. These are the key allegations in Croatia regarding Ivo Sanader.
Let us return to the analogy with Thaci. In Montenegro, fortunately, one did not trade with human organs, but did with everything else from the Adriatic sea to the Tara River. And with the very devil. After tobacco smuggling, Montenegro became a transit hub for cocaine and heroin, a free space for Saric, Kalic, Keljmendi2 and others.
During the twenty-year reign, our Prime Minister, along with family and partners, overtook the resources, entered into shady deals or failed projects – from the Aluminium industry, Steelworks3, Moraca Hydropower Project4, Valdanos Tourist Resort5, up to the First Bank6. And nothing happened. If in a normal country, had just the First Bank case occurred, one which almost caused downfall of the country's financial system, the Prime Minister and his relatives and godfathers would have already been held accountable.
The West has been calmly watching Montenegrin transition and, for a long time, extolling Djukanovic. Is the idea maturing that the greatest threat to stability in the Balkans are not any more ethnical conflicts, but corruption and organized crime? It seems that the West has just activated the long delayed policy of change. In Croatia, this is evident in the case of Sanader, in Kosovo in the report of the Council of Europe on Thaci, and, in Montenegro, in the European Commission claim that without convictions for high crime (read: highest ruling officials), there will be no opening of negotiations7
Well, guess now who is having sleepless nights watching the dramas in Croatia and Kosovo. You will see why he is still hesitating, even though he announced his retreat to the West long time ago. He knows: all what happens in Zagreb, will come here too. The very top, along with its brotherhood in business and dark gray zone, will be held responsible for the devastation of the country. For starters, the leader must go. .
Milka Tadic Mijovic
1 Carla di Ponte, Former Chief Prosecutor of the Hague Court for War Crimes in Former Yugoslavia
2 Alleged top international drug dealers
3 The country's deeply troubled key aluminium and steel industries have been privatised by Russsian investors
4 Moraca HPP is an on-going, highly controversial concession tender
5 Valdanos prime tourist resort location, recently awarded in a concession tender to a small UK investor, is a strongly contested deal by former/present local landowners
6 First Bank of Montenegro, predominantly owned by Prime Minister's brother Aco Djukanovic and other family members, and the only bank receiving state aid, is under-going severe crisis due to alleged gross mis-management and obscure dealings
7 European Commission Opinion on Montenegrin EU Candidate Status of November 2010