MEP Viola von Cramon was met with mixed reactions in Serbia's where she came to support the environmentalists to collect signatures for the annulment of the Spatial Plan allowing the Rio Tinto to mine lithium and suggested to a hostile crowd to exchange phone numbers to discuss the issues.
In the western town of Loznica and the village of Gornja Nedeljica, a group of men waited for her shouting „Kosovo is the heart of Serbia,“ while another group told her not to allow lithium mining and gave her ‘ajvar,’ famous winter salad made of paprika and tomato, as well as pickled peppers.
Von Cramon is also the European Parliament (EP) Rapporteur for Kosovo.
Earlier, the media reported that the gathered people were members or supporters of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) led by President Aleksandar Vucic.
Von Cramon addressed reporters in Belgrade earlier in the day, criticising the latest Europen Commission (EC) on Serbia’s progress to the Union.
An SNS deputy leader and Serbia’s Minister of Energy and Mining Zorana Mihajlovic accused Von Cramon and a part of the opposition that hosted her of talking about the recognition of Kosovo, not the environment.
An N1 journalist reported that some „ten Loznica residents appeared, saying they did not come to create problems. But a verbal conflict occurred.“
The reporter added that an opposition leader, Nebojsa Zelenovic, was also there and that the police came to the scene.
Von Cramon stopped next to the unfriendly group who yelled at her, accusing her of advocating Kosovo’s independence and suggesting they exchange phone numbers and discuss the issue, the N1 reporter said.
Another group sent her a different message, telling her „that Europe can’t get lithium from here, but it can have something else – healthy food.“
Loznica residents told the N1 reporter they were aware of the Government’s support the Rio Tinto enjoyed but pledged not to give up.
They were confident they would collect 3,600 signatures for the initiative and that the local assembly would hold an extraordinary session to review the Spatial Plan. They also said that they would not allow excavators to their properties.
Zelenovic, the opposition Together for Serbia (ZZS) party leader, one of Von Cramon’s hosts, said the SNS members gathered in an organised manner in Gornji Nedeljice.
„We were met with the SNS members’ welcome. They insulted us to stop us from raising the issue to the highest possible level and secure the support of people from the organised world,“ he said.