Tony Blair's Institute for Insajder: We have found candidates for the job in Serbia

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Institute for Global Change has recently announced a call for two senior advisers of the Government of Serbia. However, after media took interest in the matter, the call has been removed from their website even though it was supposed to be opet until December 21st. As the Institute told Insajder, the job offers have been removed because they found candidates, and also pointed out that these two positions will not be financed by the Government of Serbia. 

Tonni Bler Foto: World Economic Forumswiss

“The job offers have been removed from the website as we’ve found the candidates. These positions are linked to the Institute in Serbia that serves as the supporting body to public administration. They are a part of a wider, non-profitable work of the Institute that serves as the supporting body to governments all over the world and were not a financial burden to Serbian Government”, said the spokesman of the Institute Benedict Macon-Cooney for Insajder.

To Insajder’s question whether the Government has put together a contract for council with Blair’s Institute and what is its worth, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić has responded that no money has been allocated from the budget towards that matter. Additionally, when asked who is financing the positions to counsel Serbian Government, the Prime Minister gave no answers, but has promised that her office will be responding to the addressed matters. 

However, we’ve received no answers so far.

A couple of days ago, on the official website of the Institute for Global Change, a job advertisement has been published for two senior advisers positions located in Belgrade. The advertisement stated that Blair’s Institute is looking for a senior adviser who has “an extensive experience in the public sector reform and has worked on the development of economic policies”. That person should be in charge of “solving key problems of high priority projects of the Government and providing support and contribution to project management, foreign political briefings and strategic communications”.

Blair’s Institute has also requested a senior communications adviser for his post in Belgrade, whose job would be to provide "strategic communication advices" and "support senior public officials in public relations". Here, as a condition, candidates are to be experienced in public sector reform and work on the development of economic policies.

Answering Insajder’s questions at yesterday's press conference, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić stated that the engagement of Blair’s Institute in the form of "delivery unit" began at the time when Aleksandar Vučić was the Prime Minister and that she only continued this practice.

"Delivery unit performs in the best way possible. It helps the Government and all line ministries to deliver some of the best projects. This is not financed by citizens of Serbia”, Brnabić said.

Non-transparent “delivery units”

That the Serbian authorities established contact with Tony Blair, media in Serbia first reported of in February 2015. That’s when it was officially confirmed that the model of "delivery units" will be introduced in the Government, meaning that a special way of working of all the departments will be established in order to improve the efficiency of performance in all ministries.

As the media wrote, behind this project was the organization "Tony Blair Associates." To this day, however, details have not been revealed of how the Blair organization and Serbian Government came to an agreement for collaboration, how it was regulated, as well as who is specifically financing it. The results of the collaboration also remain unknown.

The idea of “delivery units” being realized, after a couple of years of silence, was confirmed by none other than Prime Minister Ana Brnabić for the first time yesterday. What is interesting is that prior to joining the Serbian government, Ana Brnabić was the person that Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić publicly proposed as the "delivery units" director. However, how these administrative units function and who do they consist of, to this day remains unknown.

Tony Blair's engagement in Serbia has been under the spotlight again in recent months after the People's Party leader Vuk Jeremić stated that former British Prime Minister "has been negotiating behind the scenes with some of the most important international officials" about the division of Kosovo on behalf of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. However, both Vučić and Blair’s Institute denied these allegations.

Afterwards, Vučić stated that no funds have been allocated for anyone to hold negotiations of the Kosovo issues on his behalf.

"He (Blair) does not negotiate anything, I negotiate, and this is the decision made by both executive authorities and the Government (Serbia) and mine, the decision to accept that as a burden and obligation. My name is neither Tony nor any other, but Aleksandar", Vučić said.

On the Tony Blair’s lobbying on behalf of Serbia, London Times also wrote in the beginning of October. In a text entitled "Ethnic divide that could bring the war back to the Balkans," the British newspaper wrote that Mr. Blair had spoken to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and urged her to reconsider the opposition towards the division of Kosovo. As reported in the article, the former British Prime Minister was to discuss the same matter in Washington with the officials of the US National Security Council.

The Guardian also wrote about Tony Blair’s engagement in Serbia, that the agreement on council between Serbia and Blair's agency was concluded in Abu Dhabi and that its services will be financed from the funds of the United Arab Emirates.

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