Economy Politics

Serbia shocked by Orban revelation; oil sanctions–and then there is Dodik

The ups and downs of Serbian international relations were on show over the October 8-9 weekend, with head-butting evident between Serbia and Croatia; potential head-butting with the US over revelations that the Bill Clinton administration wanted Hungary to at one time invade Serbia and then the unknown wild card of Milorad Dodik, who is vying to become president of Republika Srpska—despite allegations of vote rigging.

If this seems like a lot to absorb, well yes, dear reader, you are right, and perhaps the most complex issue is in fact Dodik, who has long been a political factor in and of himself.

Dodik surprised analysts and pundits when he chose not turn run for re-election to the tri-partite presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), whose Serb representative will now be Zeljka Cvijanovic. Instead, Dodik decided to run to become president of Republika Srpska (RS), the Serbian “entity” of BiH.

While this would seem like a surprising step down for the power-hungry Dodik, smart observers should not be fooled, as his decision to try to win the RS post would allow him the perfect, undivided pulpit to voice his vision for ethnic Serbs.

Considering that this vision over the years has become more renegade—with even secession being bandied about—such news could complicate the life of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

Yet Dodik appeared to have lost the entity elections to his rival Jelena Trivic—who actually claimed victory—until a sudden, improbable surge appeared to push Dodik to the fore. This has brought out protesters in RS, and the local election board has since demanded a recount.

At any rate, as Dodik has been vocal as 1) a “protector” of ethnic Serbs in Bosnia 2) a potential secessionist trouble maker at odds with the Dayton Accords and the EU and 3) a supporter of Putin in Ukraine, a win here would complicate Vucic’s standing with nationalist supporters of his own party back home. And a loss—as Dodik has already called the recount illegal—is sure to make matters difficult as well.

Yet the weekend held more surprises, as Vucic, fresh out of meetings with Austrian leaders and yet another renegade in the eyes of the EU, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, revealed that under the Bill Clinton administration the US allegedly attempted to force Hungary to invade Serbia during the conflict in Kosovo.

In fact, during a televised address Vucic stated that not only Clinton, but also other US and UK officials attempted to push Hungary into an invasion.

“Clinton and the British asked [Orban] to attack Serbia from the north so that they could extend our forces from Kosovo and Metohija to Vojvodina,” Vucic stated, as quoted by the Voice of America.

Orban appeared to be the source of this information.

The revelations, which should be considered unconfirmed, considering the source, came at a time when Vucic has been attempting to gain support from Orban with regard to gas supply. Vucic has also clearly grown alarmed and irritated by an EU ban on oil supplied to Serbia from Russia. Likewise, Prime Minister Ana Brnabic has also voiced anger that the ban appeared to have come at the behest of Croatia, a constant irritant since the war in Yugoslavia.

According to various media reports, Croatia and other EU members pushed at zero hour to have the ban implemented, although Serbia had expected an exemption from sanctions.

The oil pipeline ban is sure to impact Serbia, as Russian oil makes up some 50 percent of supply, and Serbia has no other direct pipeline to handle imports. Although Serbia is riding a wave of increased GDP, it has also been hit by marked inflation, and the news that its current situation has been worsened through Croatian intervention will only bolster anti-EU sentiment.

Photo credit: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban by Szabi237, CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons.

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