On Thursday, January 20, the prime minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabić, stated that the Decree on the Spatial Plan of the Special Purpose Area for the Processing of Jadarite Mineral, as well as all permits and regulations related to Rio Tinto, have been revoked, and that the Working Group for Implementation of the “Jadar” project has been disbanded, media reported.
“All administrative acts related to Rio Tinto, i.e. its Serbian subsidiary, Rio Sava company ─ including all permits, licenses, decisions, and everything else ─ have been annulled. There has never been a binding contract, as we have repeated many times”, said the prime minister, according to N1.
Environmental associations and opposition representatives reacted to this with cautious optimism.
The Environmental Uprising movement agreed that the specific demands regarding the “Jadar” project the movement required of the state leadership to fulfil largely have been met. Representatives of the movement announced that on Friday, January 21, they intend to take copies of the documents related to this project from the Serbian Government and hand them over for analysis to their legal team. The public availability of the acts has been on the list of protest demands in previous weeks.
Representatives of the Environmental Uprising, applauded the citizens’ perseverance and congratulated them on their victory. However, the Environmental Uprising movement is already organizing a public forum to discuss further steps in the protection of the environment against harmful mining projects. Even if Rio Tinto really leaves Serbia, there are no guarantees that there will be no similar problems in the near future, they warned.
“Under the pressure of various interests, the Government of the Republic of Serbia has been working for years to make the legislative and planning framework tailored to the demands of the mining companies. Because of that, it is not easy to unravel the tangle of corruption and pollution that threatens to drag us all under”, it is stated in the public call for the forum.
The Don’t Let Belgrade D(r)own movement assessed the recent turn of events to be great victory won by citizens and the Serbian society and a proof that citizens, environmental organizations and political movements can successfully oppose harmful projects. However, as stated in a public release issued on this occasion:
This is a moment when we must be proud of each other, but at the same time stay aware that there are no guarantees. There is no reason to trust the current government that it will not adopt the same Decree after the elections in April or simply give a green light to Rio Tinto to continue illegal research and testing of dirty mineral processing technologies in Serbia, thus polluting our country, our rivers and water sources”.
Therefore, the NDBG movement insists that the only way to prevent the implementation of this and similar harmful projects is to change the current government in the upcoming elections.
Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić
This article was ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED in Serbian on Jan 21, 2022.