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Serbia: Govt to consider energy deal again - update

At the request of DSS and New Serbia ministers, the government will once more consider ratification of the Russian energy deal today.

At today’s cabinet meeting, Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS)-New Serbia (NS) ministers will call for ministers to vote on a proposal for the agreement to be sent to parliament for ratification, said the coordinator of the coalition’s economic team Nenad Popović.

The agreement would provide Serbia around $1 billion of investment per year, around $200 million in transportation taxes, some $100 million in environmental protection measures for cleaning the pipeline, and around 100 new jobs, Popović told B92’s Poligraf. He said that if parliament did not ratify the deal by May 11, forming the new government and parliament could take until the middle of June, during which time Serbia could lose a great deal. “At the cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Vojislav Koštunica will again raise the matter of ratification of that agreement, because, according to the contract dated January 25, 2008, attended by Prime Minister Koštunica and President Tadić, and on the Russian side by President Vladimir Putin and President-elect Dmitry Medvedev, it clearly states that the joint company should be formed by May 25 to carry out a feasibility study,” Popović explained.

He dismissed the argument that the decision to call snap elections in the meantime affected the agreement in any way. However, by the looks of things, the government will once again reject the DSS-NS proposal, as Democratic Party (DS) ministers do not wish such a law to be put forward by a technical government and be passed by a dissolved parliament. The DS say that their ministers will either abstain from voting or will vote against the proposal.

Defense Minister Dragan Šutanovac reiterated that following a meeting with Russian Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu, Tadić had announced that the agreement would be ratified by the new parliament. Meanwhile, the Serb Radical Party (SRS) has submitted its own draft law to parliament for which it expects the DSS’s full support. Parliamentary Speaker Oliver Dulić has said that he will not call another session of parliament until after the elections. “The Constitution clearly states under what circumstances a session may be called after parliament has been dissolved. I think that it’s clear to everyone that there are no legal or constitutional possibilities.

126 MPs can meet up outside the building under a tree, and take any decisions they like, but they are not valid and are not part of this country’s legal system. Let’s not muck around with an institution as important as the Parliament,” said Dulić. (B92)