Croatia and Serbia as a playground for foreign influences

14. December 2021.

How foreign influences captured Croatia and Serbia through gas was explained last night at a public event within the Human Rights Film Festival, organized by Gong and the Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina (IAJV). The premiere of the films ‘Gas Masters’ by Silvana Menđušić and ‘Let’s Gas It’ by Darko Šper was followed by a discussion with the authors of the film, as well as Oriana Ivković Novokmet from Gong and Miloš Katić from IAJV.

“Gong is interested in the topic of foreign influences precisely because of the creation of interest networks through which political decisions are influenced, all with the aim of capturing the state. In the project with our partners IAJV, we see the same source of influence in Croatia and Serbia, and that is Russia through the energy sector", said the executive director of Gong Oriana Ivković Novokmet. She mentioned Gong's study from 2016, 'Gas Capture' by Petar Vidov and Duje Prkut, in which the Croatian energy sector is described as a space that is completely open to particular interests and their advocacy of often harmful energy projects.

The chronology of the decline of the companies of strategic value for Croatia, from the Hungarian corrupt control over INA orchestrated by former HDZ Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, to the takeover of Petrokemija by Gazprom's local partner in the mandate of Andrej Plenković, after the state invested 600 million kuna in that company, and still undertook the expensive obligation of waste remediation.

"Capturing in Croatia's energy sector is spilling over intensively into other sectors. In the end, Russian banks managed to take over the former Agrokor, and the empire of Pavao Vujnovac, which is powered by Russian gas, a proven weapon of spreading Russian influence, is flourishing more and more ", added Ivković Novokmet.

"Let’s Gas It" focuses on the Serbian state-owned company Srbijagas, which operates under Russian influence, and its director is Dušan Bajatović, who is also the deputy president of the pro-Russian SPS political party - Milošević's successors and Vučić's coalition partners.

"As a rule, gas supply in Serbia has always been a deep political issue under the dominant influence of Russian state-owned companies. Capital investments in that sector have led to even greater enslavement in that state without any influence of the free market and quality competition", said Darko Šper, the author of the film "Let’s Gas It".

"IAJV, with its publications, is working on building an informed public, and encouraging critical awareness of the citizens of Vojvodina. In Serbia, we have identified two key problems in the country, the first is the lack of transparency, and the second is the adoption of the so-called ‘Lex specialis’ and interstate agreements. That is where the idea for the film was born ", added Miloš Katić, President of the Executive Board of IAJV.

Gong is a beneficiary of operational support - structural support to European think-do-tanks in general "Democratic and Civic Participation" under the Europe for Citizens program.

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