The Republic of Srpska will conduct an additional environmental study in order to analyze the effects of building the proposed 93 MW Buk Bijela hydropower plant on the Durmitor National Park in Montenegro, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The delegation of the Government of Republic Srpska, led by Assistant Minister of Energy Milan Baštinac, visited the Paris headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and held a working meeting with Director of UNESCO for World Heritage Lazare Eloundou Assomo.
According to the Ministry of Energy and Mining, they discussed the dispute brought up before UNESCO regarding the potential violation of the protected area of the Durmitor mountain in Montenegro, claimed by the government in Podgorica.
The representatives of the Republic of Srpska and UNESCO agreed on the next steps to clear all misunderstandings
The ministry also stressed that the delegation of the Republic of Srpska presented the project, clarified the complaints, and agreed on the next steps the Republic of Srpska and Bosnia and Herzegovina would take together with their counterparts from Montenegro and UNESCO. The intention is to clarify all issues and enable the smooth construction of the hydropower plant on the Drina river in the municipality of Foča, the ministry said.
The Republic of Srpska is one of the two entities making up Bosnia and Herzegovina. The other one is called the Federation of BiH.
After the meeting in Paris, Milan Baštinac told Capital.ba an agreement was achieved to prepare an additional environmental study on the possible effects on the Durmitor National Park and the impact on the Danube salmon (lat. Hucho Hucho).
Baštinac added the preparatory construction works would be completed by September.
The ministry said the meeting was very successful and that the delegation’s visit demonstrates Srpska’s readiness to solve any disputes in direct communication and within UNESCO’s jurisdiction.
The Republic of Srpska is convinced the project
The ministry expressed belief there are no issues and added it should be proven in line with UNESCO’s rules.
The Embassy of BiH in France organized the meeting. It was attended by Ambassador Bojana Kondić Panić. She also took over the coordination of future activities and communication between UNESCO and BiH, the ministry said.
Of note, BiH and Montenegro agreed a roadmap two weeks ago to resolve issues over the Buk Bijela project with the help of the Energy Community Secretariat.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the project was held in May 2021. The construction of the dam and the main facility was envisaged to begin early this year. In March, Minister of Mining and Energy of Serbia Dubravka Đedović said preparatory works were underway and that procedural issues were expected to be resolved.
In addition to the Government of Montenegro, environmental organizations from both countries have opposed the project. The Federation of BiH opposes claimed the Republic of Srpska, as an entity of BiH, has no right to independently approve the construction of hydroelectric facilities on the Drina.
Buk Bijela is part of the Gornja Drina project
The 93 MW Buk Bijela hydropower plant, valued at about EUR 220 million, is being developed by Serbia and the Republic of Srpska.
Serbia’s state-owned power utility Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) holds a 51% stake and the Republic of Srpska’s Elektroprivreda Republike Srpske (ERS) owns the remainder.
Buk Bijela would be the first part of Gornja Drina, a larger joint project, with two more hydropower plants on the Drina – Foča, of 44 MW, and Paunci, of 43 MW.