Citizens filed a motion to Public Prosecutors to stop “Belgrade Waterfront” project

Initiative “Let’s not drown Belgrade” filed a motion to the Public Prosecutor calling for the cancellation of the contract that made building of the “Belgrade Waterfront” possible.

Foto: Srđan Ilić
Foto: Srđan Ilić

Citizens’ Initiative “Let’s not drown Belgrade” filed a motion to the Public Prosecutor Zagorka Dolovac on Friday, demanding investigation of the contract between the state of Serbia and the UAE company Eagle Hills, the partner in project realization.

“The motion contains a list of reasons that the legal team of the Initiative considers to be enough evidence for the Public Prosecutor to declare the contract null and void,” said the activist of the Initiative Ksenija Radovanovic. According to Radovanovic, the Serbian government exceeded its powers multiple times by signing the agreement with Eagle Hills.

“By signing the contract, the Serbian government gave to the foreign partners a part of territory of Serbian capital that does not belong to the government,” said Radovanovic at a press conference.

“We believe that the obligation of the Public Prosecution is to investigate the contract that enabled the building of “Belgrade Waterfront.” Above all, it is an obligation of all prosecutors to protect the public interest.”

On the night of the elections on 24th April 2016, a group of masked man illegally demolished privately owned objects in Hercegovacka street. During this “action,” the masked group prevented the citizens who found themselves there from taking photos and restricted their movement. The citizens called the police, but the police did not react.

The current Serbian Prime Minister admitted in mid-June last year that the illegal demolition was organized by a Belgrade’s senior official. The demolition took place in the area intended for Belgrade Waterfront project constructions. Belgrade Waterfront is a “pet project” of the PM Vucic’s government and Belgrade authorities.

Although the city authorities claimed that the demolition of objects in Hercegovacka street for the purposes of Belgrade Waterfront was not due until the end of 2019, Insajder’s findings show that, under the contract, the deadline for clearing this area was 30th June 2016.

Radovanovic said that the motion is the first step in institutional fight to stop the “Belgrade Waterfront” project, adding that it will lead to those responsible for signing the contract.

“If the Public Prosecution does not act on its obligation and rejects this motion, the Initiative will file a lawsuit to the court in charge”, she said.

The Initiative’s representatives also said that, on anniversary of the night demolition in Hercegovacka street, citizens will again protest and demand that those who planned, organized, and conducted the demolition face the consequences.

Insajder’s investigation of “Belgrade Waterfront” project

The “Belgrade Waterfront” contract was concluded on the basis of bilateral agreement between Serbia and the United Arab Emirates.

As Insajder wrote, for the past 17 years, signing bilateral agreements with harmful consequences for the state budget and national laws has been a practice of all Serbian governments.

According to the contract with Eagle Hills, Serbia is basically suspending its national laws on the parcel of “Belgrade Waterfront.” For this “favor,” Eagle Hills will invest 150 million EUR and secure an additional loan of 150 million EUR with interest.

Serbia, on the other side, would invest 100 hectares of land, with the obligation to clear the land and build the infrastructure.

A detailed financial analysis of the deal is not possible, since the investment of the UAE partner is still classified. The business plan is declared a “business secret” of the company Belgrade Waterfront, in which the UAE partner has 68% and the state of Serbia 32% of ownership.

Insajder’s investigation also shows that, despite the controversial project being declared by Serbian government as a project of “national importance,” it is in fact a commercial project.

Under the guise of “national importance,” the Government adopted special laws by emergency procedures, abolished the bids for the sale of land, and did not apply the Law on public procurement and public tenders or other procedures foreseen by the national legislation of Serbia.

According to Insajder’s findings, the contract allows Eagle Hills to take over and manage the buildings in the state’s ownership located on the land where Belgrade Waterfront will rise. Commercial profit made from these buildings will also be split 68 to 32 percent in favor of Eagle Hills.

Mina Milanovic

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