The Bosnian state-level executive government approved the construction of a new pipeline to pump gas from Serbia, sparking concerns that this could give the Bosnian Serbs more control over the country’s energy supplies.
Bosnian Council of Ministers, the country’s state-level executive government, voted on Thursday in favour of a construction of a new gas pipeline from Serbia.
The so-called Eastern Interconnection will bring natural gas to cities and towns in the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska entity.
The Council of Ministers also supported the construction of another pipeline from Croatia, which should run through the Croat- and Bosniak-dominated Federation entity, the so-called Southern Interconnection.
Borjana Kristo, Bosnia’s de facto prime minister, said that all the decisions at Thursday’s meeting of the Council of Ministers were made unanimously, and urged the Federation entity government to vote through a law to enable the construction of the Southern Interconnection.
“When it comes to the proposal for the new Eastern Interconnection, we have a clear situation. We have a law at the level of the Republika Srpska entity, proposals for implementing the agreement, and the Law on Conclusion of International Agreements,” Kristo told a press conference.
“We have a clear situation so we can make a decision to enter into negotiations or conclude an agreement for the implementation of that project,” she added.
However, there has been opposition within the country to both projects, particularly the pipeline to Serbia, because the president of Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik – who started the project with Serbia even before getting approval from state-level institutions – threatened to paralyse state-level institutions if it wasn’t approved.
Dodik said at the beginning of May that if the Council of Ministers meeting didn’t address the Eastern Interconnection project, “our people will assess how to proceed”.
The Croat member of the Bosnian tripartite presidency, Zeljko Komsic, criticised the Council of Ministers’ approval of the pipeline.
“Dodik wants to completely separate the energy infrastructure through the new Eastern Interconnection from everything that belongs to Bosnia and Herzegovina, including what goes to Sarajevo, and integrate the energy infrastructure with Serbia. That is the essence of the problem,” Komsic told Federal Radio-Television.
The largest Bosniak party, the Party of Democratic Action, SDA, was also quick to react.
“The construction of the Eastern Interconnection gas pipeline without adopting a gas law for Bosnia and Herzegovina and establishing a state regulator would practically mean that the supply and gas prices to end consumers in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina would be solely controlled by the entity regulator under Dodik’s control,” the SDA stated.
Komsic has also declared that he will not support the projects in the presidency unless a state-level law regulating gas supplies is adopted.
Currently, Bosnia and Herzegovina uses Russian natural gas, which reaches the country through the TurkStream pipeline via Turkey and Bulgaria. Serbia also received gas imports via TurkStream but also via Hungary.
With the construction of the Eastern and Southern Interconnections, Bosnia would end its complete dependency on Russia by also receiving gas from Azerbaijan and Croatia.