Electricity

Republic of Srpska offers Montenegro to join Buk Bijela hydropower project

dodik buk bijela hydropower montenegro mandic

Photo: Andrija Mandić/Facebook

Published

March 1, 2024

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Published:

March 1, 2024

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President of the Republic of Srpska Milorad Dodik offered to Montenegro to join the construction of the Buk Bijela hydropower plant. He made the statement in Montenegro’s capital Podgorica during a meeting with President of the Parliament of Montenegro Andrija Mandić.

The construction of the 93 MW Buk Bijela hydropower plant officially began in May 2021, but it has faced major difficulties due to the objections of the Federation of BiH and Montenegro. The Federation of BiH and the Republic of Srpska are two entities making up Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“If they won’t join us, then they shouldn’t block us,” Dodik said, as quoted on the official website of the president of the Republic of Srpska, and accused the authorities in Sarajevo of blocking the project.

If Montenegro is willing to return to the project, in his words, the Republic of Srpska is ready to accept it. Hydropower plants, thermal power plants, solar power plants and wind farms are necessary to produce electricity, Dodik added.

The president claimed the project doesn’t affect the rivers in Montenegro and that the Republic of Srpska intends to finish it together with neighboring Serbia, the majority owner. “I think it should be unblocked,” Dodik said.

Montenegro and the Republic of Srpska agreed two decades ago to cooperate on the Buk Bijela project

Of note, back in 2004, Montenegro and the Republic of Srpska signed an agreement on cooperation on the construction and joint use of the Buk Bijela hydropower system. The planned capacity was higher than in the current project. Eventually it was abandoned after complaints it would endanger the canyon of the river Tara in Montenegro.

The project was later modified and the proposed capacity reduced.

Dodik also said Montenegro has long sought the rights to water and hydropower from the Bileća lake, located in the Republic of Srpska. The two sides have now agreed to hold a meeting in Trebinje including ministers of energy and managers of power utilities. The idea is to solve the issue with dialogue, he added.

The president of the Republic of Srpska stressed that the entity cannot ignore certain things and argued that Montenegro had unrealistic ambitions and claims.

Several years of negotiations

This is not the first time that teams have been established to solve issues between BiH, the Republic of Srpska, and Montenegro in the energy sector.

In July 2021, the ecology ministries of Montenegro and the Republic of Srpska agreed to establish an expert team to examine the possible impact of the Buk Bijela project on the Tara river in Montenegro.

In July 2023, BiH and Montenegro established a joint working group to address the challenges associated with the Buk Bijela project. The deal was facilitated by the Energy Community Secretariat.

A few weeks later, the Republic of Srpska said it would conduct an additional environmental study to analyze the project’s effects on the Durmitor National Park in Montenegro, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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