“The formal Russian occupation of Ukraine had a significant political impact on the region,” says political scientist from Bosnia and Herzegovina Jasmin Mujanovic, emphasizing that what happened in Banjska shows us that Russian forces and intelligence services are still very active in the Western Balkans.
He sees Serbia’s politics as similar to that of the 90s.
“Although the aggressive military part of the format may not be as pronounced at the moment, it is still a major political threat,” he says.
Mujanovic considers that the greatest danger in the Western Balkans is the regime of Aleksandar Vucic and all his hostages, including Mr. Dodik in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and accuses the soft approach of some Western countries to this policy.
Regarding Serbian and Russian propaganda, he adds that: “unfortunately, Serbian society in Serbia is under occupation, I mean from the side of the regime of Aleksandar Vucic and from the side of the Russian Federation”.
The Geopost: How did Russian aggression against Ukraine affect the Balkans?
We can see at this moment, especially here in Kosovo, that the Russian formal invasion of Ukraine had a significant political impact on the region, perhaps it did not have the worst possible impact, however, everything that happened specifically in Banjska indicates to us that the Russian intelligence forces and services are still very active in this area and consider the region of the Western Balkans as a possible second, third and even fourth front against the political West. There, of course, Kosovo is extremely important, but also Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro.
The Geopost: How do you see the destabilizing policy led by Serbia and how to oppose it?
I always think that you should trust political leaders when they clearly tell you what they want, we have been listening to the official Belgrade for years about the Serbian world, that is, about greater Serbia, and it is a huge systematic, integral, existential threat in Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Montenegro.
Of course, now they lead that policy not in such a harsh way as it was in the nineties during the aggression, genocide, but the same political project continues, even today we talked about the fact that especially to us in Bosnia and Herzegovina, what happened in Banjska, it really reminds us of those first phases of aggression against Bosnia and Herzegovina and also the Republic of Croatia in 1990 and 1992.
So, I am convinced that if this attack in Banjska had been successful, if Serbia had achieved all the goals it wanted to achieve, that we would probably be talking about a so-called Republika Srpska, “Kosovo and Metohija” at this moment as they would have call it. Although the aggressive military part of the format may not be so pronounced at the moment, it is still a huge political threat.
The Geopost: How risky it is and how the west sees the politics of Aleksandar Vučić, who plays the game on two, three, maybe even four sides, China, Russia, Iran, how dangerous it actually is for the politics of the Balkans?
It is quite dangerous for the region, to the extent that, as I have already said on several occasions in other public statements, at this moment I think we can say very clearly that the greatest threat and danger in the area of the Western Balkans is the regime of Aleksandar Vučić and all his pawns, including Mr. Dodik in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As for the perspective of the political West, I think there are two currents, on the one hand I am convinced that the intelligence forces in the West are well aware of the circumstances, are well aware of the danger of Mr. Vučić, as we saw a few days ago from the White House after attacks in Banjska. There came a point where we can say an open conversation and an open denial on the part of Washington, however, unfortunately we still have the problem that on the part of the political leadership in many countries of the West, unfortunately including the USA, that attitude still prevails, where they believe that Serbia is some kind of partner, that some kind of balance must be maintained there, that policy of “appeasement”.
Unfortunately, I think that it is this political monopoly that is firmly held in the west and that is where the transformation must take place.
The Geopost: How do you see Russian Propaganda through Serbian media?
As much as I am knowledgeable and as much as I can see through my research, through conversations and impressions, unfortunately the Serbian society in Serbia is under occupation, I mean both from the side of the regime of Aleksandar Vučić and from the side of the Russian Federation.
I am terribly sorry that it is very difficult for my friends and colleagues in Serbia, even those who are liberal and understand what it is about, it is extremely difficult for them to get real information within their society, of course you can read BBC or some newspapers from Kosovo or Bosnia and Herzegovina for some better information, however, we unfortunately have again, as we had in the nineties, an entire lost generation in Serbia, and this will be a huge problem for all of us in the region in the coming years.