According to the company Telemach BH, the BiH Council of Competition illegally approved the creation of a monopoly of Serbia’s telecommunications operator, Telekom Srbija, in the Bosnian entity of Republika Srpska (RS), through the acquisition of all major operators there and the rejection of Telemach's request to take part in proceedings regarding the issue.
The company said that after the Court of BiH annulled the decisions of the Council of Competition and allowed Telemach to participate in the process of determining the legality of the concentration of Mtel and all major operators in RS, ordering the Council of Competition to renew the proceedings, the Council of Competition was obliged to renew all proceedings concerning the issue.
“We inform the public and citizens that the Council of Competition continues to violate the law and does not act on the decisions of the Court of BiH as the sole authority to resolve these legal issues, which harms the business of Telemach BH and all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as there is still no decision to review the concentration (acquisitions) by Mtel of Blicnet, Elta Kabel and Telrad Net,” the company said.
“Due to non-compliance with the decision of the Court of BiH, we remind you that the competent authorities and individuals in the Council of Competition are subject to criminal liability. These are indisputable facts, and all attempts to prevent the renewal and future participation of Telemach as a party in the procedure that will prove Telekom Srbija's monopoly which is presented to the public as “Telekom Srbija's victory over Telemach” are not only untrue but deceive citizens and directly violate of the law,” it said.
In recent years, the Council of Competition has approved Mtel's concentrations over alternative operators in the RS, which created a monopoly in the market not only in the fixed and mobile telephony markets but also in the internet and pay-TV markets in Republika Srpska, which Telemach argued is contrary to the reasons for establishing the Council of Competition as an institution in the first place.
“Thus, today the largest number of consumers in RS do not have the possibility to choose an alternative operator, since the services are provided only by Telekom Srbija operators operating in Bosnia and Herzegovina (Mtel, Blicnet, Telrad Net, Elta Kabel). By allowing such a situation on the market, the Council of Competition acted contrary to the basic rules of the competition law and consumer protection, which include competition on the market and competition in providing the highest quality services for the lowest possible prices,” is said.
Due to numerous violations of the law in Mtel's merger proceedings, Telemach BH challenged all decisions made by the BiH Council of Competition before the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has the exclusive authority to resolve such legal issues.
Decisions of the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Telemach's lawsuits upheld all claims and annulled the decisions of the Council of Competition, and recognized Telemach's party status in the Mtel concentration assessment procedure.
“By refusing to act in accordance with the binding judgments of the Court of BiH, the Council of Competition of BiH continues the unheard-of practice of administrative bodies refusing to act on the decisions of the highest court in the country, and Telemach BH hereby calls on the competent authorities to investigate such cases and protect the principles of legal certainty. Approving this practice can have far-reaching and very negative implications,” the statement said.