United Group said on Monday that Telekom Serbia CEO Vladimir Lucic finally admitted in public that he is behind the plan to destroy the SBB cable services provider and end its business operations in Serbia as well as destroying the free media outlets N1 and Nova S.
“I am the author of the entire development of Telekom Serbia over the past two years including the idea that Telekom should offer its optics to the competition,” Lucic said in an interview to Belgrade daily Blic. He bragged the he is coming up with and managing the strategy that includes repression and the use of all state apparatus levers to destroy United Group, one of the biggest investors in Serbia,” the United Group said in a statement.
United Group called the prosecution to react after the Telekom Serbia CEO openly admitted having come up with the plan to destroy SBB and the free media outlets saying that judiciary institutions should not ignore the plan and undisputed goal set out in official documents following the open admission by the Telekom CEO.
“We would like to remind the public and judiciary that the Telenor documents state that the partnership with Telenor bring “benefits” such as the complete destruction of SBB which will make Telekom “the sole quality supplier of content… with full domination” of its content against United Media content and, as stated in the documents, put an end to the business operations of United Media and SBB in Serbia,” the statement said.
It said that “Lucic is evidently completely aware of the protection that he and the company he heads enjoy from top officials and state institutions and is bragging about the results which Telekom is achieving with the help of unprecedented state repression against a foreign private company”.
“Everything that Telekom has achieved is not the result of fair market competition but unprecedented pressure by the entire state apparatus against all the companies operating within United Group. Everything that Telekom achieved resulted from state aid under the plan to persecute United Group, ignore SBB’s legitimate request to become a mobile services operator, use harassing perfidious control of all kinds of state inspections all the way to open repression by local communities that are pouring concrete over SBB infrastructure and open pressure on state administration, public company and local government employees to change from SBB to Telekom’s MTS”, it said and added that “the blackmail and harrasment on the ground is how the state is helping Telekom according to Vladimir Lucic”.
“He shamelessly talks about European practice, invoking the contract with Telenor while at the same time Telekom refuses SBB access to telecommunications infrastructure even though it’s defined by law. The state has clearly supported the newly-formed Telekom-Telenor cartel which, according to the adopted strategy that Lucic came up with by his own admission, should additionally reinforce the pressure on SBB to the point of expelling it from Serbia,” the statement said.
It said that Telekom Serbia is not suffering any sanctions for its illegal steps despite the fact that 538 MEPs in the European Union’s top legislative body has placed Telekom squarely in the context of the biggest scandal in Serbia.
“The authorities are saying every day that they are fighting to open new jobs while at the same time stopping investments of hundreds of millions of Euro by preventing SBB from going into mobile telecommunications and continue expanding its network. United Group is calling the appropriate Serbian institutions to secure equal business conditions for all companies, to implement their own laws and stop preventing SBB’s legitimate attempts to expand its network under defined conditions and allow a competition for 5G under European principles as soon as possible,” the United Group statement said.
“We would like to remind the pubic that the state of Serbia will have to explain before the International Center for Settlement of Investment disputes (ICSID) in Washington why United Group is being discriminated in Serbia and why it is openly and overtly promoting the interest of Telekom Serbia contrary to the European principles that it claims to advocate,” the statement said.
United Group includes N1.