While the world’s attention is mostly focused on the Middle East at the moment, a silent spy battle is unfolding in the Balkans. Who are the main players and what are they seeking to achieve?
The president of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, said in an interview with the Croatian Vecernji list newspaper that a Bosnia-Herzegovina intelligence agency is tasked with spying on the Serbian leadership, as well as on Croatian authorities.
The former chief of Serbia’s Security Intelligence Agency, Andrija Savic, told Sputnik that the espionage activities are related to the desire of Western countries to keep the region under control.
“BiH is an international protectorate of the West, and, therefore, attempts to keep everything under control are quite natural. Of course, they [Western countries] want to know more about the ties between Republika Srpska and Serbia, and keep their hand on the pulse. That’s why they involved the Bosnian intelligence, which is dominated by Bosnian employees,” Savic said.
According to Savic, the most worrying thing is that the Bosnian intelligence agency works in close cooperation with the leadership of the country, which in turn has strong financial and religious ties with Ankara, Tehran and Riyadh.
Savic noted that the Bosnian intelligence agency lacks the capabilities to spy on Belgrade or Zagreb alone; thus it is likely to receive assistance from Turkish intelligence agencies or other intelligence agencies located in Bosnia.
“It’s quite possible that they also use American centers of wiretapping, which are located in Bosnia. The question is, who then uses the tapped information: the leader of the Bosnian Muslims Bakir Izetbegović, the BiH government or someone else?” the expert wondered.
In his turn, a former employee of the Yugoslav intelligence, Dusan Janich, said in an interview with Sputnik that the attention of all intelligence agencies, both regional and “external” ones, is indeed directed to Serbia.
“The reason is its relations with Moscow, because Russia’s “return” to the region in the context of the global situation is of a great interest to the international community,” Janich said.
With the help of the CIA and other Western actors, Albanian, Croatian and Montenegrin intelligence agencies could become a new threat to Serbia because of its relations with Russia, he argued.
According to a source from one of intelligence agencies, Serbia should be cautious about an Albanian-Croatian spy network, because these two states have more complaints toward Belgrade than the others.
Some reports say there are about 60 intelligence agencies operating in 35 countries now. Even the Chinese MSS is quite active in the Balkans, although it mainly deals with the protection of Chinese state interests and investments.
Meanwhile, the intelligence potential of the region is very modest: from 300 to 500 hundred employees. Operational work is best of all established in Croatia, as the country’s intelligence agency has been cooperating with the British SIS since the early 90s, which has good connections with the German BND.