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Ex-Trump Staffers Court Bosnian Serbs

Steve Bannon extends his list of European friends beyond Orban and Le Pen, and into the Balkans.

11 September 2018

Top officials of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Serb region have held meetings with people associated with Donald Trump as the Balkan country gears up for its elections next month.

 

Two former Trump campaign aides have registered with U.S. authorities to lobby for the political party of Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik. In July, the entity’s prime minister – Zeljka Cvijanovic, a political ally of Dodik’s – met with former Trump strategist Steve Bannon at his Washington, D.C. home, the American magazine Mother Jones writes.

 

Dodik’s Alliance of Independent Social Democrats party has verbally agreed to pay $10,000 a month for three months to the company set up by former Trump campaign workers, Jason Osborne and Mike Rubino, Osborne told Mother Jones.

 

Cvinajovic with LewandowskiZeljka Cvijanovic and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski at Washington’s Trump Hotel. Photo: Republika Srpska government site

 

Dodik himself is running for the position of Serb member of the country’s tripartite presidency in the elections due to take place on 7 October, when citizens will also vote for the members of the house of representatives in both entities (the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, comprised of mostly Bosniaks and Croats, and the Republika Srpska, with mostly Serbs). 

 

He is also receiving at least verbal backing from Serbia and enjoys friendly relations with the Kremlin. Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic last week said top Serbian officials will be in Republika Srpska on 17 September, coinciding with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to the entity, Balkan Insight reports.

 

Dodik, who has often hinted at secession from Bosnia, thanked Dacic for Serbia’s support and declared that “Serbs in Republika Srpska and Serbia are one nation.”

 

While conservative American lobbyists will be drumming up support for his party in Washington, back home Dodik has accused the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo of interfering in Bosnian politics by channeling aid to local NGOs through the U.S. development agency USAID.

 

The embassy dismissed the claim as a “wild” conspiracy theory, Reuters reports.

 

Dodik then doubled down his attacks on the embassy, accusing Ambassador Maureen Cormack of “flagrantly meddling in political processes and elections in Bosnia” after a lawmaker from his Alliance of Independent Social Democrats party was banned from entering the United States.

 

The State Department yesterday said it placed the ban on Nikola Spiric and his immediate family for his alleged “involvement in serious corruption,” Bosnia’s N1 broadcaster reports.

 

Dodik himself is under U.S. financial sanctions because of his opposition to the 1995 Dayton peace accords, which ended the bloody wars of the early 1990s and established Bosnia’s complex decentralized political system, writes Balkan Insight.

 

 

  • Bannon told The Daily Beast he is setting up a foundation in Europe to support nationalist politicians in next spring’s elections to the European Parliament. Bannon has met with conservative politicians from across the continent, including Britain’s Nigel Farage, members of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party, “Polish populists,” and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the Beast said.

 

  • Osborne said he was not involved in setting up Cvijanovic’s meeting with Bannon, although he did arrange for her to meet Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Representative Dana Rohrbacher of California.

 

  • During her visit to Washington, Cvijanovic also met Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. The meetings took place at the “Tramp Hotel,” the Republika Srpska government website said.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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