BiH – Serbia relations in deep trouble after arresting of FBiH former high official

BiH – Serbia relations in deep trouble after arresting of FBiH former high official

BiH Foreign Minister Bisera Turković called the Ambassador of BiH to Serbia, Aida Smajić, back to the country for consultations, Minister cabinet confirmed for N1 TV on Monday.

N1 explains that, in practice, this could mean the possible withdrawal of the BiH Ambassador from Belgrade. Ambassador Smajić was invited to consultations on the occasion of Sunday’s arrest of the former high-ranking official of the Federation (FBiH) entity Police Administration, Edin Vranj, on the border between BiH and Serbia.

Ambassador Smajić told N1 Monday morning that Edin Vranj was transferred to the detention unit of the War Crimes Department in Belgrade.

The ambassador requested that they visit him as well as a meeting with the acting prosecutor, but they said they are awaiting a response.

This case caused another deep crisis in the relations between two neighbouring countries. Serbia authorities arrested Vranj over the allegations of war crimes. Vranj managed to send a text message to a journalist from the Istraga.ba portal before his mobile phone was taken away.

“I was just arrested in Priboj at the Uvac border crossing and they are taking me to Belgrade over war crimes,” he wrote.

Journalists also managed to get a short statement from Vranj.

“I am currently at the police station in Priboj. I went privately to Serbia, to Sandžak, when I came to the border crossing Uvac – I was arrested. I expect my phone to be taken away at any moment. Try to alert the BiH embassy,” Vranj told the journalists on Sunday afternoon.

In March 2014, Glas Srpske reported that the State Investigation and Protection Agency of BiH (SIPA) had submitted a report to the Prosecutor’s Office of BiH against Vranj, who served as head of the FBiH Criminal Police Sector for years, as well as the former director of the Directorate for Coordination of Police Bodies of BiH, Himza Selimović, and 112 people suspected of war crimes allegedly committed in Gorazde.

Glas Srpske said at the time that Vranj was reported on suspicion of having committed war crimes in the towns of Strmica and Međeđa. BiH prosecutors never filed an indictment and the investigation was stopped in 2018. However, after that, the Prosecutor’s Office in Serbia issued an arrest warrant for Vranj.

Ambassador of the Republic of Serbia to BiH Aleksandar Đorđević did not answer the call of the BiH Chairman of the Presidency Željko Komšić on Monday morning. This is the first time since the war that an ambassador of a state in BiH refused to come to the meeting in the Presidency of BiH, N1 learned.

Đorđević said he did not refuse to come to the meeting as Komšić’s cabinet said, but that he was invited on a far too short a notice which he could not make.

According to him, Komšić’s cabinet called the Embassy at 10 am, asking him to come to the meeting at 11 am the same day, without mentioning the topic of discussion. After his secretary said he would not make it that early, the cabinet called again saying it would look bad if he did not.

“I respect the host country of BiH. I note that the manner of communication in diplomatic circles is very precise, and that I know the protocol of the BiH Foreign Ministry very well and that I implement it professionally,” Ambassador Đorđević said.

He also notes that some web portal’s allegations that he refused to attend the meeting were inaccurate, malicious and aimed at generating inconvenience towards the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia in Sarajevo.

The Komšić Cabinet also confirmed that the departure of Željko Komšić, as well as Šefik Džaferović to the Non-Aligned Summit on the 60th anniversary of the first conference of this Movement, that will be hosted by the President of Serbia Aleksandar Vučić, was cancelled due to this arresting.