Serbian government drops contested changes to expropriation law after protests

BELGRADE (Serbia), Dec.9 (SeeNews) – The Serbian government has said it has withdrawn from parliament the controversial draft amendments to the expropriation law that have sparked protests across the country, with protesters claiming that the proposed changes would pave the way for foreign mining companies. projects that would cause irreversible damage to the environment.

“The government of the Republic of Serbia will analyze whether amendments to the law on expropriation are necessary and, if it is determined that the law needs to be amended, this will be done through a broad public debate involving associations professionals, businesses and civil society, ”the government said in a statement Wednesday.

Prior to the cabinet decision, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic referred amendments to the Expropriation Law to parliament for reconsideration.

“They passed a law in which one thing I had a problem with, and that is the incredibly short deadlines given to the owner of real estate, whether it is land or a house,” Vucic said. at a press conference on Wednesday.

Over the past two Saturdays, thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest the planned changes, blocking main roads at more than 50 locations. They claimed the proposed amendments would allow foreign mining companies to pollute Serbia’s land and water, targeting the Rio Tinto lithium mining project in the Jadar region of western Serbia.

Protest organizers said no new protests would take place next Saturday if parliament repeals the proposed changes, local media reported.

“The government has accepted all the demands of the protests, and if the parliament passes them, there will be no protests on Saturday,” the Nova news site said, citing Savo Manojlovic, founder of the local initiative “Go- Exchange”.

Anglo-Australian mining group Rio Tinto, which is developing the $ 2.4 billion (€ 2.1 billion) Jadar lithium project, has so far obtained an exploration permit from the Serbian authorities. The company plans to complete construction of an underground mine at the Jadar project site in 2026 and reach full production capacity in 2029.

During Vucic’s visit to the Jadar region, residents expressed their concerns about the potentially harmful impact of the project on the environment, particularly in terms of waste management.

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