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        • Serbia and Hungary: Hammering Democracy
          • Publications

          • Autor: Marko Drajić
          • Serbia and Hungary: Hammering Democracy

          • Hungary is currently Serbia’s closest international partner. Bilateral relations between the two countries are no longer marred by any disputes and their political and economic interests increasingly coincide. The values underpinning the administrations of both countries have converged to ...

        • The Security Sector in a Captured State
          • Publications

          • Autor:
          • The Security Sector in a Captured State

          • Report on state capture in Serbia is BCSP genuine and pioneering work aiming to document and deconstruct ongoing process of state capture in the security sector through presentation of mechanisms, actors and consequences of this process.

        • The Security Sector in the State of Emergency: Testing Democracy
          • Publications

          • Autor: Isidora Stakic, Jelena Pejic Nikic, Katarina Djokic, Marija Ignjatijevic, Sasa Djordjevic
          • The Security Sector in the State of Emergency: Testing Democracy

          • This analysis by the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) concludes that during the 52 days it spent in a state of emergency, Serbia failed the test of democracy, thanks to a series of failings and irregularities in the conduct and control of the security sector.

        • The Masks Have Slipped: Serbia in a Geopolitical Pandemic
          • Publications

          • Autor: Isidora Stakic, Maja Bjelos, Marko Drajić
          • The Masks Have Slipped: Serbia in a Geopolitical Pandemic

          • Masks have slipped and the interests of Serbia’s foreign policy were exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. These interests are not based on the principles of common goods, but on mechanism for preserving the existing internal order. This is one of the conclusions in the foreign policy analysis ...

        • Crime in the Western Balkans Six at the Time of Coronavirus: Early Findings
          • Publications

          • Autor: Sasa Djordjevic
          • Crime in the Western Balkans Six at the Time of Coronavirus: Early Findings

          • Did organized crime groups continue with their activity at the time of Coronavirus, which trends in the criminal activities in the Western Balkans can be noticed in the first six weeks of the pandemic and which scenarios can be envisaged for the future, analyzed BCSP Researcher Sasa Djordjevic.

        Serbia and Hungary: Hammering DemocracyThe Security Sector in a Captured StateThe Security Sector in the State of Emergency: Testing DemocracyThe Masks Have Slipped: Serbia in a Geopolitical PandemicCrime in the Western Balkans Six at the Time of Coronavirus: Early Findings
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          • Year: 2020
          • The Anatomy of Capturing Serbia's Security - Intelligence Sector

          • The study by BCSP Executive Director Predrag Petrovic seeks to describe and analyse the factors, conditions and actors that made it possible for Serbia’s security and intelligence sector and the security services to become a tool in the hands of the ruling party.

        • In its Enlargement Strategy for 2018, the European Union assessed that elements of state capture are present throughout the Western Balkans. Our research shows, howe­ver, that when it comes to Serbia this is a very restrained assessment as whole state institutions and sectors - the security services and institutions tasked with their con­trol and oversight - have been captured by the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS). Key positions in the security and intelligence sector are staffed by close associates of party officials or directly by party officials and its founding members.

           

           

           

           

          The Director of the BIA, Bratislav Gašić, and the head of the Security Services Coordination Bureau, Nebojša Stefanović, are founding members and high-ranking officials in the SNS. Key posts in the judiciary that are significant for the activities of the security services have been taken up by close associates of party officials or of the leader of the SNS and the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić. They are not all sufficiently experienced to be in these roles because the main criterion for their appointment was personal or party loyalty.

           

          In order to ensure the smooth operation of the security services for the purposes of personal and party interests, the ruling party has made the bodies tasked with their oversight and control redundant. It is, therefore, the party with a parliamentary majority and not the opposition that obstructs the work of the National Assembly. The Security Services Control Committee of the Parliament has become an outfit for expressing su­pport for President of Serbia and party leader, Aleksandar Vučić, which awards party officials with ceremonial plaques. After the appointment of a new Ombudsman and a new State Auditor, these institutions have been abandoned by people with experience of conducting checks on the security sector and have become little more than window dressing. This is a particularly worrying finding as the Ombudsman had been an exam­ple of best practice when it comes to controlling the security services, not only in the Western Balkans but also in developed European countries.

           

          Clientelism and personal and party relations have thus become more significant re­gulators of relations between the security services and the political sphere than the law and constitution of Serbia. This state of affairs occurred through a combination of changes to legislation and the appointment of loyal personnel to key positions in the sector - who have then continued to recruit along these lines. Even though the cap­ture of the sector began in 2012, once the SNS rose to power in both branches of the executive and accelerated in earnest in 2014 when the party won an absolute majority through snap elections, elements of a captured security and intelligence sector be­gan to emerge while the DS was in power. Some in the expert community had raised alarms over these early warning signs of a captured state but they were summarily ignored as they had been seen as an academic hair-splitting.

           

          As a consequence, the security services are now (increasingly) exceeding their powers and authority and are (increasingly) acting as a political police force. Protection of the constitutional order and counter-espionage have been transformed into protection of the party in power and the fight against internal enemies. Such security services ei­ther turn a blind eye to crime and corruption linked with party officials or become its protectors. It is highly questionable whether they are capable of reviewing, accurately and in a timely fashion, the state of security, risks and threats and of identifying and forecasting the flow and outcome of important social, political, economic and security events.

           

          The basic premise for reversing the capture of the security and intelligence sector is the understanding of the true state of affairs. This analysis seeks to identify the key actors, conditions, events and mechanisms of the capture of the security sector and to discover the dynamics of this negative trend, as well as its consequences. This study is, however, only the first step in this process because, as we write, fresh cases and affairs emerge and indicate that things in the security and intelligence sector are actu­ally worse than we were able to record through our analysis. It is imperative, therefore, that a more comprehensive and detailed analysis is produced, which would involve a broader range of actors with more varied expertise, so as to ensure that the sector is analysed as accurate as possible. Such a study would make it possible to consolidate existing recommendations for reform of the security and intelligence sector (which Serbian experts have been advocating for more than ten years) and also to determine the scope and timeframe of their implementation.

           

          Read the analysis in full

           

          This analysis is supported by European Fund for the Balkans within the regional program Think and Link  through the project “Watching the Watchers: Towards Accountable Intelligence Services in the Western Balkans”, which is jointly implemented by Belgrade Centre for Security Policy from Serbia, Center for European Strategies - EUROTHINK from North Macedonia and Institute Alternative from Montenegro.

        • Tags: state capture, security services, bia, Predrag Petrović, Watching the watchers
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