European Greens’ Weitz: Serbia is suffering from environmental crimes

European Greens Weitz Serbia environmental crimes

Medija centar Beograd


August 25, 2021






August 25, 2021





Dumping construction waste in the Reva marsh in Belgrade and the disposal of untreated wastewater into rivers would be considered environmental crimes in the EU, Co-chair of the European Green Party Thomas Weitz said during his stay in Serbia. He revealed he would raise such issues in the European Parliament together with the controversy over Rio Tinto’s lithium mining project.

The European Parliament and elected representatives have the role to talk about environmental devastation in Serbia, to clearly point out the problems and look for solutions, Co-chair of the European Green Party Thomas Weitz told Balkan Green Energy News.

Shocked with contamination

He said he came to Serbia to again give support to local movement Don’t Let Belgrade Drown (Ne davimo Beograd) and speak with people from civil society organizations that are working on the green transition, social justice, good governance and transparency and making institutions functional.

There is a thin line between naming problems and supporting solutions on the one side, and patronizing independent countries on the other, according to Weitz

Weitz admitted that despite his familiarity with the environmental issues in Serbia, he was shocked when he witnessed untreated wastewater being poured into the Danube and saw the construction waste landfill in the Reva bog in Belgrade next to the same river. He vowed to speak about it in the European Parliament and asserted such cases would be declared “environmental crimes” in the EU.

The European Greens co-chair said he would also raise the issue of the controversy over Rio Tinto’s lithium mining and processing project with other European lawmakers and in the media. He added he saw numerous illegal landfills and massive contamination with plastic along the Danube.

European Commission should speak out

“The European Commission and European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius should speak about environmental issues in Serbia. However, there is a thin line between naming problems and supporting solutions on the one side, and patronizing on the other. I think the EU shouldn’t patronize an independent country. Maybe sometimes the commission is too careful not to step on anybody’s toes. I would very much welcome it if it was more outspoken,” Weiz said.

Serbia is officially working to join the EU and supporting the goal in a rhetorical sense but it has actually been moving backward for the last seven or eight years, he pointed out. The current government is not interested in joining the EU, in the MEP’s view.

Mining giants like lax laws

As for Rio Tinto’s project in Jadar near Loznica, he said the company and other mining giants aren’t ready for modern environmental standards. “Mining is a super dirty business in most of the cases. That’s why there are few newly opened mines within the European Union,” in his view.

While the company’s project in Serbia is being developed, information and contracts are hidden, locals and other stakeholders didn’t get a say and the environmental assessment process wasn’t transparent, Weitz warned.

“They are searching for countries with weak regulations, weak institutions, weak environmental laws, where there is no participation by the local population, no relevant resistance by the local populations because they are scared by the authorities. So that’s what international mining companies like,” he stated.

Solution is in recycling, circular economy

The strategy of consuming and throwing away brings profits to very few people and it is killing the planet, Weitz underscored and pointed to recycling and introducing the circulatory economy principles as a solution.

“We will need big amounts of lithium to change our transportation system from combustion engines to electrified engines. Getting out of fossil fuels is neither an ideological question nor is it a question of political positioning. It’s just facts that tell us we have to reduce our CO2 emissions if we want to sustain our livelihoods… The demand for lithium, if you ask me, should be first served by recycling. There’s only 3% to 5% of lithium recycled globally,” he stressed.

More and more people in the Balkans are ready to stand up for their rights, good quality of life and participation in making decisions about mining and infrastructure projects

Weitz singled out air pollution as the biggest environmental challenge in Serbia and other Balkan countries. He said he is seeing more and more citizens ready to stand up for their rights, good quality of life and for participation in making decisions about mining and infrastructure projects.

Earlier this month, MEP Viola von Cramon from the European Green Party went to Belgrade’s Vinča landfill with activists from Don’t Let Belgrade Drown one day after the start of the latest major fire.

Comments (0)

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Enter Your Comment
Please wait... Please fill in the required fields. There seems to be an error, please refresh the page and try again. Your comment has been sent.

Related Articles

New York City startup Air Co vodka captured CO2

New York City startup Air Co. produces vodka from captured CO2

21 October 2021 - Air Co. calls its vodka the world's most sustainable spirit as it makes the alcohol from captured CO2 and green hydrogen. It just launched a perfume.

Fossil fuel production grow until 2040

Reality of energy transition: fossil fuel production to grow at least until 2040

20 October 2021 - Despite the Paris Agreement goals and net zero commitments, fossil fuel producers are on track to significantly boost output through 2040

Women empowerment is crucial sustainable development Drin river basin

Women empowerment is crucial for sustainable development in Drin river basin

20 October 2021 - GWP-Med held a workshop on gender equality for sustainable development in nexus sectors in the Drin river riparians

Tuzla to decarbonize district heating system

Tuzla plans to decarbonize its district heating system

19 October 2021 - Tuzla intends to cut heating emissions to 4% of their current level by 2040 with desulphurization, renewables and network expansion