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Serbia: Koštunica announces energy agreement meeting

Interview

Vojislav Koštunica says that the energy agreement with Russia will be discussed at today’s cabinet meeting.

The prime minister said that he expected the government to send the agreement to parliament for ratification. President Boris Tadić warned, however, that the technical government did not have the power to take such a decision. The new dispute between the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS)-New Serbia (NS) coalition and the Democratic Party (DS) came in the wake of a statement from the Russian government regarding its expectation that officials in Belgrade would confirm the document, so that the project could be carried out within the envisaged time frame.

According to Russian Energy Minister Victor Khristenko, the Russian side expects the Serbian parliament to confirm the agreement as soon as possible to avoid any unnecessary delays. Koštunica’s cabinet said that the energy agreement would be on the agenda at today’s cabinet meeting. “Given that it’s an agreement that Serbia’s senior officials have stood behind, I believe that the government and parliament will make a decision that will be in the best interests of Serbia and all its citizens,” read the prime minister’s statement. However, Tadić believes that the technical government is currently unable to work at full capacity, and cannot confirm the agreement and send it to parliament for ratification.

According to Radio Television Serbia, the president said that he supported Russia’s desire for clean relations, but opposed the use of such an important issue as the energy agreement for campaigning purposes. Deputy Prime Minister Božidar Đelić told B92 that the agreement was already being implemented and that ratification was just a technical matter. “After the concession, now another non-existent problem is being created. As far as the energy agreement is concerned, the DS supports the agreement, and if it is in the position to do so, will propose its ratification after May 11 so that parliament can adopt it, and there the DS will vote for the adoption of the ratification law,” Đelić said.

Koštunica’s advisor Branislav Ristivojević accused the coalition formed around the DS of trying to block the agreement. “If the DS is looking for an excuse not to confirm this agreement and if Boris Tadić has forgotten that he was personally present as a guarantor that the agreement would be adopted, that only means that the new coalition of Čanak-Dinkić-DS wants to block the implementation of this vitally important agreement for Serbia. It’s now up to the DS ministers to choose whether they will defend Serbia’s interests, or work according to the rules of the new Čanak-Dinkić-DS coalition”, said Ristivojević.

Russia and Serbia signed the agreement on January 25 in Moscow for the construction of the South Stream gas pipeline, and the sale of a 51% stake in the Serbian Oil Industry (NIS) to Russian Gazprom for €400 million plus a further €500 million worth of modernization investments. (B92)

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