The Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence participated in the third dialogue between Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and the National Convention on the European Union (NCEU), held on Monday, April 26, at the Palace of Serbia, with the possibility of participants joining online. The topic of the dialogue was the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans, adopted at the summit in Sofia in November 2020, within the Berlin Process.
In addition to the Prime Minister and representatives of the Convention, the dialogue brought together a significant number of relevant representatives of the public and civil sectors. First of all, the Ministers for European Integration Jadranka Joksimovic and Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue Gordana Comic, as well as the UN Resident Coordinator in Serbia Françoise Jacob. The Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE) participated in the dialogue as the coordinator of the Working Group 15 of NCEU – Energy.
In her introductory address, the Prime Minister stated that “issues of environmental protection and energy transition are very difficult and expensive ones, but that nothing is more important than the lives of the citizens of the Republic of Serbia”, and that the Government will do everything necessary to save human lives. . Thus, energy transition is one of the three main priorities of the current Government, which is shown by important laws passed in this sector.
In the part of the debate dedicated to environmental protection, Natasa Djereg, coordinator of the Working Group 27 of NCEU, stated that it is commendable that foreign investors invest significantly in Serbia, but they must not leave behind a devastated environment. While Ratko Ristic, the dean of the Faculty of Forestry, reminded that a healthy environment is a basic human right, and as such recognized by the United Nations and in the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia.
In the part of the debate dedicated to energy, the program coordinator of BFPE and the coordinator of the Working Group 15 of NCEU, Lidija Radulovic, reminded that Serbia is chairing the Energy Community this year, which should be used to position itself as a leader in the region in this area. In addition, she believes that all laws and strategic documents in the field of climate change and energy should be aimed towards meeting the goals of the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans. This was followed by energy expert Aleksandar Kovacevic, who believes that a significant part of the money invested in environmental protection is actually intended to extend the life of thermal power plants on lignite, which leads to the fact that Serbia has the highest material intensity per unit of national product in Europe, which is why it would be completely uncompetitive in the European electricity market.
In the open discussion that followed, the main topics were issues of small hydropower plants, foreign investments with possible adverse effects on the environment, but also possible closures of thermal power plants and the transition to renewable energy production that would be just.