Vucic: Belgrade ready for talks with Pristina; Referendum on Rio Tinto mine?

NEWS 04.06.2021 15:22
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Source: Tanjug /Dragan Kujundžić

Serbia has always been ready for talks and compromise, but never for humiliation, President Aleksandar Vucic has told reporters on Friday after Thursday's meetings with Matthew Palmer, the US envoy for Western Balkans and Miroslav Lajčák, the European Union Special representatives for the Belgrade – Pristina dialogue on the normalisation of relations.

He said the talks with Palmer and Lajčak were „correct“ and added he told the two Serbia was not in favour of a frozen conflict.

Vucic promised to brief Serbia’s Parliament on issues related to Kosovo. When, he said, depended on the Parliament Speaker Ivica Dacic, but added he would prefer it to be after the Brussels’ meeting.

Lajčák said on Friday Josep Borrell, the EU High Representative, would announce the meeting between Vucic and Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti in Brussels.

Regarding the domestic issues, Vucic spoke about the Rio Tinto company’s plan to exploit lithium in Serbia which caused protests over environmental danger and united the opposition parties.

Vucic said that people would have the last word about that job, announcing a possible referendum on the issue. He added that the Rio Tinto mine would make the whole of Western Serbia flourish since lithium was something the world badly needed now.

„We are talking about dozens of billions of Euro,“ he said.

Vucic recalled that the first contracts with Rio Tinto were signed „back in the time of (the then President) Boris Tadic“, adding Serbia had not benefited from that project so far, but that it could happen in the future, „because the demand for lithium will be increased by 20 percent.

The environmental activists and local people protested outside the Presidency building during Vucic’s meeting with Rio Tinto representatives.

The company’s plan to build a jadarite mine near the western town of Loznica triggered months-long protest of local people, but Vucic described it as populist and against the country’s progress.

He said that if people would rather remain poor and continue to leave the Macva district instead of getting employed and having a good life, mine would not be built.