Political corruption: How Ankica Gudeljević became a member of the BiH Competition Council

Political corruption: How Ankica Gudeljević became a member of the BiH Competition Council

FOTO: Pixsell Ankica Gudeljević Former minister, as the lawsuits read, could not become member of an important institution under any conditi

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FOTO: Pixsell
Ankica Gudeljević

Former minister, as the lawsuits read, could not become member of an important institution under any conditions. She neither has appropriate degree nor experience, and she is politically active.

The documents presented to the Court of BiH strongly suggest that the selection process for three members of the BiH Competition Council was marred by blatant political corruption.At the beginning of April, the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina requested comments from the current composition of the BiH Council of Ministers, led by Borjana Krišto (HDZBiH), in response to three lawsuits filed regarding these appointments, learns Fokus.ba. Therefore, the government has decided to engage the BiH General Attorney’s Office for this matter.

Who filed the lawsuits

Consciously or not, at its session held on December 28, 2023, the BiH Council of Ministers approved the appointment of new members to the Competition Council, despite blatant violations of the law. The proposal for the appointment was put forward by the BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Affairs, headed by Staša Košarac (SNSD).

According to the lawsuits filed by former members of the Competition Council, namely Amir Karalić, Aleksandar Bogojević, and Nebojša Popić, who were also candidates for the vacancy, it is suggested that the majority of the members of the Commission, which determined the ranking list of the best candidates, has violated the Law on Ministerial and Other Appointments of BiH.

As a result, this law was subsequently violated by the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, which proposed the appointment to the BiH Council of Ministers, followed by the Council of Ministers itself, which ultimately approved the appointment of three new members. More precisely, Article 3, paragraph (2), point a), which stipulates that a responsible public servant ensures that all public appointments are conducted lawfully and in accordance with valid rules, regulations, and laws, was violated.

The reason is that Ankica Gudeljević, who previously served as the BiH Minister of Civil Affairs in the preceding composition of the BiH Council of Ministers, and is the cadre of HDZ, was among the three newly appointed members. Gudeljević could not be considered one of the three best candidates for multiple reasons, and therefore, according to the lawsuits, she could not be appointed.

At its session held on June 7, 2023, the BiH Council of Ministers passed a decision outlining the criteria for the selection and appointment of the three members of the Competition Council. According to the decision, a new member of the Competition Council must hold a degree in law, economics, or social sciences.

Gudeljević does not hold any of the aforementioned degrees, but instead has a diploma in humanities. Furthermore, according to these criteria, candidates should have at least five years of work experience in the profession, specifically in the field of competition. It is evident from her biography that she lacks this experience, as she has held various positions in both private and public companies, followed by roles such as the BiH ambassador to Germany, adviser to the deputy minister of foreign affairs, and ultimately the state minister of civil affairs.

Special requirements

According to the special requirements prescribed by the BiH Council of Ministers, a new member of the Competition Council may not engage in political activities. However, Gudeljević is actively involved in party politics. Her biography indicates her political engagement since 1997, when she joined HDZ BiH, and her membership in the HDZ Presidency from 2011 to 2015.

Furthermore, in the 2022 general elections, she was listed on the HDZ slate for the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH. Despite her candidacy, she received only 2,432 votes, which was insufficient to secure a seat in this chamber.

Furthermore, according to the allegations in the lawsuits, neither of the other two candidates, who were rated as the top three alongside Gudeljević, possess the necessary work experience in the field of competition, which is the primary requirement defined by Article 22 of the Law on Competition. The other two candidates are Davor Savić and Ninela Salihbašić, who were appointed new members of the Competition Council by the Council of Ministers’ decision at its session on December 28, 2023.

The BiH Competition Council is a very important state-level institution that has the exclusive authority to decide on the existence of prohibited competitive activity on the market of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Therefore, it decides on preventing, limiting, or disrupting market competition within the territory of BiH or outside its borders if they have an impact on the territory of BiH. In other words, this institution determines whether certain company purchases, takeovers, acquisitions, etc., are permitted in order to prevent distortion of competition in the market

Given that each member of the Competition Council holds the status of an administrative judge, lawsuits presented to the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina assert that such appointments or political favoritism concerning election to a particular position jeopardize the institution’s ability to function independently and impartially.

According to the allegations in the lawsuits, some candidates who applied for the vacancy hold PhD degrees in economic or legal sciences, specialize in market competition law, and possess extensive experience in scientific and academic research, yet they were not included in the ranking list of the best candidates. Considering all the information presented, it can be concluded that the commission responsible for determining the ranking list of candidates clearly operated under (political) instructions.

Continuation of practice

The members of the mentioned commission included Assistant Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations Admir Softić, as well as department heads Marijana Milić and Edita Perić from this ministry. Additionally, two experts, Dragan Vojinović and Jasmina Selimović, who is the newly appointed governor of the Central Bank of BiH, were also part of the commission.

Fokus has officially reached out to the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, as well as to Mr. Softić personally, but we have not received a reply by the time of completing this text. Additionally, we contacted the Central Bank regarding the governor’s position on this matter, but we did not receive a response.

We also reached out to the Competition Council through official channels, requesting comments from Gudeljević, Savić, and Salihbašić.

In their response to Fokus, the Competition Council of BiH stated that the entire procedure for the selection of members of the council is conducted by the BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations. According to their statement, the Council of Ministers appoints the members of the Competition Council after the completion of this procedure.

–The Competition Council has no official knowledge of any lawsuits filed before the Court of BiH, and we are unaware of the reasons behind such filings. Additionally, other institutions, including the Court of BiH, have not requested a statement from the Competition Council regarding these lawsuits. Based on the above, we recommend that you direct all inquiries regarding the implementation of the procedure and the appointment of members of the Competition Council to the Council of Ministers or the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations. – said the BiH Competition Council.

It should be emphasized that the current composition of the BiH Council of Ministers, comprising parties such as SDP, NiP, Naša stranka, HDZBiH, and SNSD, has perpetuated the practice of political appointments in an institution that should ideally remain apolitical and independent.Specifically, the previous composition of the Council of Ministers appointed Ivo Ino Jerkić, former HDZ mayor of Čitluk, as a member of the BiH Competition Council, a position he still holds. Additionally, the previous composition of the BiH Council of Ministers appointed Nebojša Popić, a member of the SDS, to the Competition Council, which was previously also reported by Fokus.

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(Fokus.ba)