Taking control of levers of power: Alija Behmen's office has thereby actually only accomplished their long time ago made announcement that they would take over all the key levers of power, above all control of the state-owned companies. Namely, after the change of governing boards in companies the next logical step would be the change of existing management, and managers, at least if the hitherto experience of the 100-days-long rule of the Alliance is to be taken as a guide, would have to be with suitable political backgrounds.
However, while the changes of governing boards in the leading Bosniak state-owned companies went through without too much reaction and were greeted as an expected move, the changes in Hercegovina were received with bitterness. Let us add that such reactions were not unexpected.
Namely, if the Federation government takes control of the telecommunications, energy sector and the Aluminum, it could state that it has managed to "conquer" Western Hercegovina. The logic used by the critics of this move is the following: the value of these companies is more than a billion German marks. This is public property, and therefore belongs to citizens. If after the recent events this property is managed by the authorities that do not have the support of the Croatian people, it could be stated that that people has been (also) economically stripped of its rights.
"The newly appointed governing boards will not be allowed to take control of the companies. Similarly, possible new managers will be able to enter their offices only by force. But, all things imposed by force can provoke chaos, and I fear that that is precisely the goal in this case. Their actions are madness," one prominent HDZ politician was adamant last week in Mostar.
Spheres of interest: According to "the division of spheres of interest" that was in force until recently, in the territories with Croatian majority, the HDZ was in charge in practice as that party had overwhelming support of Croat voters. On the other hand, companies such as the JP PTT BiH or the Electrical Utility Company of Bosnia-Hercegovina Sarajevo were under the exclusive control of the ruling Bosniak parties.
After the elections in November and the formation of the Alliance government, the situation has changed fundamentally. That block of parties is now trying to take full control and name members of governing boards according to the taste of the SDP, Party for Bosnia-Hercegovina, NHI and others. Simply, after the division of ministerial posts, the time has come to divide another round of spoils - posts in governing boards.
Now, the fact that the Alliance finds it appropriate that the head of the governing board of one of publicly-owned company is a confectioner by profession, and that most of other appointed members provoke nausea among 90 percent of Hercegovina Croats, is an entirely different matter.
Second line of defense: After the first line of defense of the Croatian autonomy was smashed with the raid and destruction of the Hercegovacka Bank, the HDZ and the group of parties close to HDZ regarding this issue will try to set the "reserve defense line" at the issue of control of publicly-owned companies. They will try to prove that the administration that does not enjoy the support of the Croat people cannot rule in the territory with a Croat majority.
Unfortunately, it is very likely that all of that could cause another catastrophe that, besides, already happen in connection with the aforementioned Hercegovacka Bank.
However, the SDP's concept, as the strongest party within the Alliance for Changes, is that "nationalist parties must be removed from power" even at the cost of a crisis that could last for two to three years. That strategy was, perhaps inadvertently revealed by Ivo Komsic. Therefore, there can be no doubt that the Alliance will persevere in its goal and that possible long-term damages of the Hercegovina and Bosnian economy in general are not one of its concerns.
Consequently, the new members of the governing boards were selected accordingly. Slavo Kukic, the new president of the Governing Board of HPT said to Dnevni Avaz "I am a stubborn guy from Hercegovina and I shall not resign because of protests against my appointment".
"No compromise with nationalists" is the motto of that block, although it would obviously be better to find some sort of compromise.
What about Aluminum? Nevertheless, there is a chance that a compromise solution will be found for the Mostar company Aluminum, the biggest Bosnian-Hercegovinian exporter. The manager of that company, Mijo Brajkovic, for a while has intensely lobbied on different sides, including Prime Minister Alija Behmen, trying to protect his own as well as Aluminum's interests. The governing board is not the only problem. Other difficulties include deliveries of electricity and demands of the Bosniak workers to be brought back to work and to increase the number of employees to pre-war levels, which would most likely push the company into bankruptcy.
Regarding Aluminum, the structure of ownership and the size of the share held by the state is also in dispute. "The Ministry acted in accordance with its management rights," claims Hasan Becirovic, the Federation Minister for Energy, Industry and Mining Industry. He denies that the state owns less than a quarter of the company.
The nature of the dispute regarding the ownership of Aluminum is well known. The emission of a set of internal shares which gave employees a stake in the ownership of the company based on unpaid salaries is questioned, and the Federation government also claims that the initial valuation of the company is questionable. "We are waiting for the result of the ownership analysis conducted by the OHR," claims Becirevic, who similarly to his colleague from the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications has made his decision with questionable support of even those Croats that participate in the Alliance government.
By the way, the work on the OHR's analysis has been stalled for a while now because of totally conflicting views and it is questionable whether that analysis will be completed before the end of term of the present government. In the meantime there will definitely be problems, and the Aluminum has announced a suit against the ministry as well.
Smaller parties within the Alliance for Changes are accusing the Party for BiH, and the SDP above all, of unprecedented greed as far as posts in governing boards are concerned. "The SDP won 25 percent of votes in the election and now wants between 60 and 70 percent of power, of course at the expense of smaller parties," a distinguished politician, a member of the top leadership of one of smaller Alliance members confessed to our journalist.
However, it must be said that those smaller parties are responsible for the bind they have found themselves in as they allowed the inclusion of the clause in the Alliance agreement according to which the posts in the government were supposed to be distributed according to the election results, whereby they allowed Lagumdzija's Social Democrats and Silajdzic's party to with 40 percent of votes get 90 percent of power.
However, it is hard to hide cracks in the HDZ. They can be spotted on several sides and many believe that that party will split after the next congress, that is supposed to be called soon.
In the meantime, the chief of HDZ's negotiating team, Dr. Bozo Ljubic, has continued talks behind closed doors with officials of the international community and Petritsch's office, respectively. The goal remains to win support for the HDZ's draft election law and the implementation of the decision of the Constitutional Court about constituent character of nations in the same manner in both entities. The HDZ wants the international community to force the Alliance parties to open dialogue about these issues.
It is interesting that the HDZ's draft election law was praised at the most recent meeting between the HDZ's representatives and the OHR's representatives, but it is even more interesting that the weekly Slobodna Bosna, which in its editorials frequently conveys official views of the SDP, has also praised the draft election law offered by the HDZ, at the same time criticizing some Alliance partners in the state parliament. True, it cannot be denied that the HDZ's demands are much closer to the views of the Alliance than the views of parties that provide majority for the Alliance government in the Bosnian parliament. Above all those from Srpska.