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Series: ABUSE OF OFFICE

The second episode transcipt

March 2009, a clip from Polygraph: "75 to 80 hectares are problematic. We have proposals for a deal where the City would become owner of that. That is why it is so important that we get those 55 hectares, because they are worth several hundred million euros."

B92: Where did several dozen hectares disappear in a year?

 


Dragan Djilas, mayor of Belgrade: The only question is the size of the land under the buildings that were constructed. That part of the land was under those buildings always, and however it is resolved, it would belong to the owner of the Port. There are no questions there. What is a bit odd is that we registered 113 hectares the last time and now it's 118. Obviously, because the registry is not precise, it is a problem to determine the exact size of the land.

B92: But isn't it a bit irresponsible from the state not to know the size of the land it owns at such an exclusive location?

Dragan Djilas: I agree, but in six months not even a Superman could correct everything that was done in the last ten years, let alone me. At this point, the court has ruled in our favour, if the District Court confirms the verdict, than we have no problems any more. It is all ours.


Lands in Serbia, including the land of the company Port of Belgrade, according to current laws, belongs to Republic of Serbia. Everyone else has the right to use them. The problem between the Port of Belgrade and City of Belgrade is who has the right to use around 200 hectares of exclusive location in Belgrade. Port representatives claim they have the right, City representatives claim they are the sole users. Only within a year after the claim that the City of Belgrade would never give up its most exclusive land in Port area, the size of the land constantly changed. The City had everything, than nothing, and so on: 220 hectares, 107 hectares, 85 hectares, 0 hectares, 55 hectares. According to the latest decision by the court, the City now has 117 hectares, and waits to be entered into the registry, and still no one knows what happened to around 80 hectares of the land.


The problems with the land emerged in 2005, when the Port of Belgrade was bought, by taking over shares from workers and the state, by the Luxembourg offshore company Worldfin, owned at the time by Milan Beko and Miroslav Miskovic. The then new owners of the Port concluded that the company has the right to use 200 hectares, and that the City, based on contract from 1975, was entered into the registry as owner of the majority of the land only in 2002. That is why they filed a complaint and the District Court annulled the decision by the first instance court, according to which the City is the owner in the registry. After that, the Municipal Court once again entered the City into the registry, the Port complained once again, and the District Court annulled the decision once more.


Because the first instance court entered the City into the registry every time, and the higher, District Court annulled it, Port representatives and the City started negotiating couple of months ago. The City was supposed to get 55 hectares. Several days ago, everything changed again. Both sides claim there are no negotiations any more, the first instance court once again, for the third time, confirmed the City as the owner, but over 117 hectares now. At the same time, the public attorney claims that Belgrade must get what it's rightfully entitled to.

Strahinja Sekulic, public attorney of the City of Belgrade: The complete land that I am working on is 220 hectares.

B92: Which should belong to the City?

Strahinja Sekulic: That's right. I demand that the City be entered into the registry as the user.


B92: For example, if you were not involved in this story...

Dragan Djilas, mayor of Belgrade: But, unfortunately, I am.

B92: ... and you hear all the time that the City has the right to 220 hectares, then 107, then 85, then 55, at one point zero hectares, and then again 220, but the last decision makes it 117, what would you think?

Dragan Djilas: I would think that this state is irresponsible and that it is a big question where our state is going if such things are possible in it. We are talking about 110, 107...

B92: 220.

Dragan Djilas: Every day we have a new data, it confuses me too, believe me. In my experience, I often see that with lawyers things can be both ways. With engineers, such as myself, they cannot. With us, two and two are four, that is why I am bothered by all these numbers. The main source of income of the Belgrade budget is the sale of land, which has to go to an auction.

B92: And why in the case of Port of Belgrade land that not used according to its original purpose was not legally confiscated? Why did you agree to all those trials in the first place?

Dragan Djilas: Because in the City of Belgrade, no one has yet lost the land because they did not use it according to its original purpose.

B92: But that means that the competent institutions are not implementing the law.

Dragan Djilas: I came to this position on August 19. Since then, we have been trying to ensure that this part of the law is fully respected too.


Port of Belgrade was bought by the takeover of shares from workers and the state by Milan Beko and Ivana Veselinovic, vice-president of the Delta company, in September 2005, and the children of Miroslav Miskovic also have a share of everything. It was officially announced that the Worldfin company from Luxembourg became the owner of the Port of Belgrade. Until last year, the public could only guess who was behind the purchase, while representatives of the new owners even specifically denied it was Milan Beko and Miroslav Miskovic only a year ago.

In case of the land used by the Port, as in the case of buying shares from workers and the state, it is not the businessmen who are the problem, not even Milan Beko and Miroslav Miskovic, they are just doing what they are allowed by the law. They have bought the company legally under government of Vojislav Kostunica, and as buyers of the company they have the right to fight for the land they think should belong to the Port. No one says that the Port should not be located downtown, or that it would not be much prettier if famous architect Daniel Libeskind, who was hired to project the ground zero in New York, made the project City on Water in Belgrade.

The problem is that the City, thanks to various decisions by competent institutions, failed to put around 200 hectares of exclusive land on auction. The problem is that state representatives, if they knew that the Port would be moved from the city centre, failed to adopt the plan for the moving first, and then decided to sell their share in the company and put the land on auction under the law, which would provide several millions for the city's budget.


The problem is that the City of Belgrade is supposed to adopt a new General Urbanistic plan, under which the Port would be turned from an industrial to construction zone, which would enable the owners of Port to build hundreds of thousands of square metres without renting it, while the moving of the Port would be paid by citizens of Belgrade.

The people who bought the Port have, according to the law, the right to use the land only if they carry out port activities. If they decide not to deal in that, they have to return the land to the City and the City would then put it on auction. However, by adopting amendments to the General Urbanistic Plan, MPs of the City Assembly would give away hectares of land at such an exclusive location without auction.


The state's attitude to what belongs to all the citizens is best seen in the case of Port of Belgrade. Problem is in the decisions made by representatives of competent institutions, city government, and the whole state.

Dragan Djilas, mayor of Belgrade: I have been running this city for seven months. The city must descend to the rivers. You cannot have port activity two kilometres from the centre, you cannot have someone building more gas or oil tanks. You cannot have the paint factory in city centre. We have to move it all from there. I can say: Hey, wait a minute, they bought it for small money, let us not change that for ten years and the city would be in a deadlock. Let us punish the one who sold it for small money, but I have to find some kind of benefit for the citizens of Belgrade, by entering the city into the registry, and it would all become ours, and then we would change the plan. Everyone would support it. But eventually, some court could always say that we snatched it away for the City like Robin Hood.

B92: Do the amendments to the General Urbanistic Plan mean that the Port would be moved or that a new one would be made?

Dragan Djilas: For now, amendments to the Plan envisage that a part of the port activities remain here, and there is nothing disputable about it, but it is logical to move from here one day. Belgrade needs a port, where tourist boats would dock.

B92: But the moving will be paid by citizens?

Dragan Djilas: It is all a question of what we agree on. After all, the Port could say they are against the amendments, and they want to remain a part of port activity forever. We will then enter a dispute with them. What is certain, we would not make another port on other side of the river, because it would cost us 200 million euros, according to some projects that I immediately stopped. I would like it to belong to us in the end.

B92: But even if it belongs to you in the end, do you realize that you will never be able to put the land which belongs to Port on auction once the Plan is amended?

Dragan Djilas: All right, then we will... What do you mean by that? Why?

B92: Owners of the Port of Belgrade have the right to use the land which is industrial now. When the Plan changes its purpose to a construction land, it will become theirs. It won't go on auction.

Dragan Djilas: Then we will start negotiating under which terms they would agree to move from there. Maybe we will make a joint investment.

B92: Do you know the price of an are on such land at a similar location?


Dragan Djilas: It depends on how much it reaches at auction. Marina Dorcol is worth around 100,000 euros.

B92: 120,000 for an are?

Dragan Djilas: That's right.

B92: That is the only relevant location which can be compared to the land of the Port of Belgrade.

Dragan Djilas: I agree with you. I don't see what is the problem.

B92: According to our calculation, the competent institutions have made a potential damage to the City's budget of around 2.5 billion euros since 2005.

Dragan Djilas: I don't know exactly, but I agree with you. If I were mayor in 2005, I would have demanded that the Port of Belgrade not be privatised at all, because it has a potential land.

B92: All right, but it was the Democratic Party who had its mayor then, too.

Dragan Djilas: I don't say it is Nenad Bogdanovic to blame, it was not such a practice then, it was not dealt with this way. Each man who comes to a position has its own policy, vision, what he promised to the citizens and he is trying to achieve that.

B92: Do you know what you can build for 2.5 billion euros in the city?

Dragan Djilas: I know. Our whole annual budget is around 500 millions, but do not accuse the City for something that was bad decisions on state level and now we have to deal with consequences.

B92: Are there any chances of correcting the potentially huge damage for the City's budget made between 2005 and today?

Dragan Djilas: There are, if we succeed in what our attorney is doing right now, the man has started all this. All the credits go to him, not to us politicians. He launched the process in the court, he is fighting for it. Belgrade would profit from it in the end in any case. We would profit best if he succeeded in what he is doing right now and if the latest decision, the third one, becomes legally valid. If everything ends with the verdict by the District Court. After that the Supreme Court would have to make some revisions and everything would belong to Belgrade. That would be the best.


Port of Belgrade was founded by the municipality of Palilula in 1961. The company was granted the use of land in the whole of Belgrade river banks without any compensation. It was done by the company's founding act, so that the port can be built and port activities carried out. However, a new urbanistic plan was adopted in 1972, which specified the purpose of Belgrade river banks and established where the port would be located.

In 1975, the Port returned to the City the land which was not necessary for port activity. That is how, from the total of 220 hectares, the Port of Belgrade was left with only several dozen hectares necessary for port activity. The problem existing today, however, was caused by the fact that between 1975 and 2002, the City failed to use the right to enter the majority of the land into the registry, although it had the contract.


Strahinja Sekulic, public attorney of the city of Belgrade: The City made a basic mistake, but the whole state was behaving like that at the time, irresponsibly to its own property, of not entering the land into the registry, because the contract has the clause of intabulandi, which allows the City to enter the land into the registry. The City has done it in 2002, and not only in the disputed area, but between Branko's Bridge and the Port of Belgrade, and in the other part, underneath the Pancevo bridge. The City has been entered into the books, but the problem emerged after the privatisation of the Port, when the Port filed a complaint and when the court changed the decision and ordered us what to do in order to make the registering perfect.

Toma Rajcevic, legal advisor of the Brif investment fund: Why was the documentation not right? Because the contract from 1975 was enclosed in photocopy. It's a circus. It bothered no one except the Port of Belgrade, who was already privatised and suddenly they were complaining, and naturally, after a while, the second instance court annulled it.


The Second Municipal Court has confirmed the right of the City to use the land twice, and the District Court, on complaint from new owners of the Port, annulled the decision. Late last year, during the election campaign, the public was listening daily the state representatives claim they would never give up their most exclusive location.

In the meantime, the elections happened. After many failed attempts, the Serbian government was formed, and it is a general knowledge that the forming was supported by many local businessmen, with some aid from foreign ambassadors. Many interpreted this as the reason for the whole story changing after the forming of the government, when the media started talking about the court passing a verdict for the third time in favour of the Port, and the City having nothing now and that it has to negotiate with the owners. While couple of months ago, City representatives were starting their negotiations with the owners, the public attorney was saying there is nothing to negotiate about something that belongs to the City.


Strahinja Sekulic, public attorney of the City of Belgrade: It must be done in court, let us see what belong to whom. A part of the property could belong to the Port, but we must establish exactly how much, and what belongs to the city. What belongs to the city no one can give away. It is not a private property so that I can do with it what I want. I simply must do everything, and I am doing it, to protect the City's interests.

B92: Do you feel any pressure?

Strahinja Sekulic: Pressure?

B92: From businessmen, politicians?

Strahinja Sekulic: I feel no pressure. That does not make me some kind of hero, because those pressures would be meaningless anyway.

B92: You want to say they are all letting you do your job?

Strahinja Sekulic: I am doing it until I can do it. What kind of pressure do you mean? That they are threatening me?

B92: You tell me.

Strahinja Sekulic: I don't know. It can happen, but, as I said, I don't see how that can affect the decision by the court.

The latest decision by the court, from two weeks ago, is that the City has the right to use 117 hectares in the Port area. The owners once again have the right to complain to the decision.


The problem with the land in Port area emerged a lot before it was emphasised in the last year's campaign. Council for the Fight Against Corruption was warning the public and authorities not to sell the company for such a small price because the buyers would obtain a monopoly over the city's land. In the meantime, simultaneously with the sale of the Port, the then city authorities, made of the Democratic Party of Serbia and Democratic Party, decided to amend the General Plan, which turns the Port from industrial zone into a construction zone.

Verica Barac, chairman of the Council for the Fight Against Corruption: You cannot sell the Port for nothing, with the excuse that you did not sell the actual land, but that you would have to buy the land at another location in order to build a new port. That is inadmissible, the money which is dispersed like that must be compensated from education, healthcare, from basic needs of the population.

Council for the Fight Against Corruption warned two years ago that the sale of the Port of Belgrade is problematic. They even made a report on it, but to no effect.

Council for the Fight Against Corruption was formed by the Serbian government back in 2001, in order to control the authorities and prevent corruption. However, such a strong campaign was conducted in public for years through media, hired analysts, and various representatives of authorities, against the Council, that it resulted in their every report and concrete data on corruption not leading to concrete consequences.


Despite all the warning, which were coming only from the Council for the Fight Against Corruption, the city government decided in 2005, at the time when the Port was being privatised, to change the General Plan and turn the industrial zone into construction land, which means that the Port, which in the meantime had new owners who obtained an exclusive location without auction, must be moved on City's expenses.

Mahmud Busatlija, architect and investment consultant: The Port was built on state land only as a port. It means that the land, after the urbanistic plans are changed, would now be available for something else, construction of residential and commercial buildings. If someone wants to build there, he has to obtain the land first through normal procedure. By buying the port and moving the port, you cannot automatically get the land. It's a big problem.


Management of Port of Belgrade, press conference, April 2009:

Ivana Veselinovic, representative of Port of Belgrade: The port is a source of income to us and we live from port activities and we get salaries and we are waiting to see what the City has planned for this area. To see whether the initiative from 2005 would actually be carried out, or it would be stopped and this area would remain industrial zone until further notice.

Djordje Bobic, Democratic Party's MP in the City Assembly, city architect 2004-2008: Port of Belgrade is under some kind of embargo, it's basic function cannot be changed until the new port is built, Belgrade is a big city that cannot be left without a port. It is too precious for the city. On the other hand, it is illogical for the port to remain there, because it has become the city's centre, it is ten-minute's walk from Kalemegdan.

B92: Why was it decided only after the privatisation that a construction zone should be located here and not the industrial one?

Djordje Bobic: Well, you are wrong.

B92: How come?

Djordje Bobic: In early 2005, I launched an initiative for the amendment to the General Plan in four zones. That space is 500 hectares. The Port is only 120 hectares, the rest is something else. It was after that that the Port was sold. The amendment to the General Plan is expected this year, where some of those zones would be activated as construction lands, while some will remain port's territory.


Management of the Port of Belgrade, press conference, April 2009:

- Mirjana Jeftovic, Television B92: You said that 96 hectares are not disputed, so I am interested if that is the space where the new residential complex is being built?

- It won't happen anytime soon, but yes, it is the territory between the heating plant and the Pancevo bridge, 96 hectares, 11 hectares of water, 85 of land. Libeskind studio is doing the master plan for the area.

- But how is that possible? You have the right to use it as long as you do port activities there.

- First, that is not true. Second, I already explained.

- What did you explain?

- How it is possible that we are doing it.

- You have the right to use the land while you do port activities. The right to use the land is linked to port activities and not building a residential complex.

- No, that is completely wrong, the right to use the land was never linked to any activities.

- We use the land on the basis of legally built facilities, just like Mrs. Veselinovic said. You can look up how much we have and the existing law, which regulates the field of planning and construction, allows it specifically in Article 91. You can all look it up.

- Does that mean that hypothetically the Port could plant flowers here?

- If the Plan says so. It is all a part of urbanism. Urbanism and property rights are two separate things which cannot be linked directly. Whether we are going to build new oil plants, introduce new port infrastructure, based on large port cities, or build residential and business complexes depends on what the city planning authorities say.


However, even if the City Assembly adopts amendments to the General Plan, which would basically allow new owners of the Port to build a residential complex even if they did not obtain the land at auction, Serbian Minister for Spatial Planning Oliver Dulic claims that the owners of the Port would not be able get the construction permit.


Oliver Dulic, minister of environment and spatial planning: According to the existing law and planning documents, and we talk about the document of highest order, the Spatial Plan of the Republic of Serbia, a port is located there. If someone adopts a planning document of a lower order and says something else would be there, then the city planning inspector would seek protection of legality before the Constitutional Court. It is an existing procedure. According to the current Spatial Plan, only a port can be there and nothing else. If someone wants to, they can build something else there, but they must launch a procedure to change the plan.


Although last year during the election campaign it seemed that the authorities would not agree to any compromise when it comes to the land of the Port, after the elections and the forming of new city authorities, an interesting thing happened that no one paid much attention to.

Namely, former city official Milan Perovic, who official legal advisor for the Port during the dispute between the Port and City, after the elections became chairman of the Board of Directors of Directorate for the City Construction Land, which is in fact in official dispute with the Port. Perovic was proposed to the position by the Liberal Democratic Party, which in its election campaign pledged for depoliticization. Perovic, who is a member of the Democratic Party and legal advisor for the Port, was nominated by the LDP for the position of the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Directorate for the City Construction Land.

Milan Perovic refused to speak for the Insider, but explained in writing how he can represent the interests of the City's Directorate if he is still legal advisor for the Port.

Is it true that, as a member of the Democratic Party, he was nominated by the LDP as a non-party figure for the position of chairman of the Board of Directorate for the City Construction Land?

Response by Milan Perovic: "I have been doing jobs of legal representation and counsel for the Port of Belgrade between 2006 and today. I have not been nominated by the LDP as a non-party figure, but as an expert. The fact that I am a member of the Democratic Party was publicly emphasised by LDP's senior officials as the best indicator that, when nominating a candidate, they solely used the criteria of expertise and not party membership. In current disputes between the City and Port of Belgrade, I am not representing any of the sides in the process, especially not both sides, as you seem to suggest with your question. The position of the chairman of the Board of Directors has nothing to do with representation of any property interests of the Directorate or the City, or the competences of the chairman of the Board can in any way suit property interests of Port of Belgrade, to the disadvantage of the City or Directorate."


In the meantime, several months ago, the Port of Belgrade hired a world famous architect to create a project City on Water. That project was officially recently presented at the stand of the Directorate for City Construction Land, which is in dispute with the Port, at the construction fair in Cannes.

Strahinja Sekulic, public attorney of the City of Belgrade: I can see it as a kind of campaign. I mean, it is legitimate. I don't see how they can have a permit if the legal property relations were not resolved. It is probably some kind of media stunt, but, I repeat, that is not my field. My field is the law, courts, and I think it is the strongest field.

Toma Rajcevic, legal advisor of the Brif investment fund: If the Port is to be moved and the buildings destroyed, according to Article 83 of the Act on Planning and Construction, the right to use the port would cease. There is a way, however, for the Port of Belgrade, or anyone else, to build, and that is to close a contract on the rent with the Directorate. That is the normal way, but it costs money to pay the rent.


If the city authorities decide to adopt amendments to the General Plan and turn the industrial zone into the construction land, citizens of Belgrade will have to pay the moving of the port, and the making of a new one. According to the City's strategy for developing tourism, done by the Institute of Economy, the moving of the port and the construction of the new one on the left bank of river Danube would cost between 700 million and 1.5 billion euros. The only way to prevent that is for the City to become the legally confirmed user of the land, which would then be put on auction, and provide money for the budget.

Strahinja Sekulic, public attorney of the city of Belgrade: It is up to me to fight. It is a general attitude, not only a professional one. I will do everything I can and use every instrument my position gives me to reach the goal in the best interest of the City. I expect the others to do so, too. If I am assigned to protect the property interests of Belgrade, I am paid for it, it is my job, and as any job, I try to do it as best as I can. If we talk about the Port, the value of this dispute motivates me even more – there is not a day I haven't thought about this case for two years. I don't want to dramatise it, but I know how significant it is for Belgrade, both economically and symbolically. It is the question whether the state is strong enough to pull this through.


If the city authorities decide to adopt amendments to the General Plan and turn the industrial zone into the construction land, citizens of Belgrade will have to pay the moving of the port, and the making of a new one. According to the City's strategy for developing tourism, done by the Institute of Economy, the moving of the port and the construction of the new one on the left bank of river Danube would cost between 700 million and 1.5 billion euros. The only way to prevent that is for the City to become the legally confirmed user of the land, which would then be put on auction, and provide money for the budget.

Strahinja Sekulic, public attorney of the city of Belgrade: It is up to me to fight. It is a general attitude, not only a professional one. I will do everything I can and use every instrument my position gives me to reach the goal in the best interest of the City. I expect the others to do so, too. If I am assigned to protect the property interests of Belgrade, I am paid for it, it is my job, and as any job, I try to do it as best as I can. If we talk about the Port, the value of this dispute motivates me even more – there is not a day I haven't thought about this case for two years. I don't want to dramatise it, but I know how significant it is for Belgrade, both economically and symbolically. It is the question whether the state is strong enough to pull this through.


However, beside all the disputed decisions on sale of state shares made first by government of Vojislav Kostunica, and then the city government in 2005 to amend the General Plan, which would enable the turning of the industrial zone into a construction zone, a potential damage was also done to foreign investors, who already invested 25 million euros and threaten lawsuit against the City as final measure. Namely, in 2004 the Directorate for the City Construction Land, headed by Sinisa Nikolic, leased a part of the land in the Port area, 15 hectares of it, to a Croatian company Mont montaza. A tender was organised and the company won. In 2005, Mont montaza also got the permit to build a shopping mall in the territory of Ada Huja, because a detailed plan was made for the area, being a land with no buildings on it.

In the meantime, owner of the Croatian company was murdered, so his family decided to sell the company together with the project. According to the Insider's findings, they first negotiated with new owners of the Port, but failed to reach agreement. Then in 2007, French investment fund Brif bought Mont montaza and became user of the land.


Brif is an investment fund formed in Luxembourg, 90 per cent of which is made of banks. President of the fund is Goran Pavlovic, who has been living in France since 1971.

Goran Pavlovic, the Brif investment fund: By buying Mont montaza we bought the whole project, permit to build the shopping mall on Ada Huja. When we bought it, everything seemed to be in order, we just needed to do the main project. The first small problem emerged in February 2007, when we got all the documentation. It turned out that the owner is not the City, but Eko-zona Ada Huja.

Toma Rajcevic, legal advisor of the Brif investment fund: In 1997, the municipality of Palilula took away the user's right from the Port, which it already did not have, and gave it to Eko-zona Ada Huja, and this company did not do anything with the land for a long time. After October 5, the new authorities saw there is a large piece of land in the city's centre with nothing on it and they leased the land to Mont montaza.

It turned out that the Directorate for the City Construction Land, headed by Sinisa Nikolic in 2004, leased the land which the City did not formally own. Sinisa Nikolic, who refused to appear in the Insider says that it is the city's land and that it does not belong to Eko zona or the Port of Belgrade. Everything was done according to the law, claims Nikolic.

Goran Pavlovic, who represents the Brif investment fund, which bought Mont montaza, after learning that they bought something that formally does not belong to the City, sought a meeting with people from the Directorate.

Goran Pavlovic, the Brif investment fund: I asked them why the City of Belgrade does not appear in the registry as the user of land. They told me it was a formality, since the City Assembly took away the land from Eko zona and it is intended for construction of a shopping mall. It's an administrative problem which will be resolved.


Goran Pavlovic, the Brif investment fund: By buying Mont montaza we bought the whole project, permit to build the shopping mall on Ada Huja. When we bought it, everything seemed to be in order, we just needed to do the main project. The first small problem emerged in February 2007, when we got all the documentation. It turned out that the owner is not the City, but Eko-zona Ada Huja.

Toma Rajcevic, legal advisor of the Brif investment fund: In 1997, the municipality of Palilula took away the user's right from the Port, which it already did not have, and gave it to Eko-zona Ada Huja, and this company did not do anything with the land for a long time. After October 5, the new authorities saw there is a large piece of land in the city's centre with nothing on it and they leased the land to Mont montaza.

It turned out that the Directorate for the City Construction Land, headed by Sinisa Nikolic in 2004, leased the land which the City did not formally own. Sinisa Nikolic, who refused to appear in the Insider says that it is the city's land and that it does not belong to Eko zona or the Port of Belgrade. Everything was done according to the law, claims Nikolic.

Goran Pavlovic, who represents the Brif investment fund, which bought Mont montaza, after learning that they bought something that formally does not belong to the City, sought a meeting with people from the Directorate.


Goran Pavlovic, the Brif investment fund: I asked them why the City of Belgrade does not appear in the registry as the user of land. They told me it was a formality, since the City Assembly took away the land from Eko zona and it is intended for construction of a shopping mall. It's an administrative problem which will be resolved.


In the meantime, new owners of the Port filed a request for cancellation of lease to Mont montaza, because, they claim, the land does not belong to the City, but to the Port. The Port claims that that the City Assembly in 2002 took away the user's right from Eko zona illegally and put on auction the land which did not belong to them.

Goran Pavlovic: Which, naturally, caused panic among us, because I realized something was happening here.

Soon afterwards, new owners of the Port and Mont montaza met. Port representatives, according to Pavlovic, demanded to buy Mont montaza, which now belongs to Brif. Goran Pavlovic refused, but soon after that realized that his project was stopped on the state level, and went for another meeting with the Port.

Goran Pavlovic, the Brif investment fund: I had another meeting with Milan Beko, who offered me five million euros. "Better take anything, than nothing", he said. I will lose the project itself in any case and the right to build the facility, because he believed that the City and Directorate illegally leased the land. He would buy off the shares of the Luxembourg's Brif, I should not stop him, and he would give me three different locations in Belgrade to build something else, whatever I like, and I should give him shares of my company, Mont montaza, which I, naturally, declined.

Soon afterwards, new owners of the Port and Mont montaza met. Port representatives, according to Pavlovic, demanded to buy Mont montaza, which now belongs to Brif. Goran Pavlovic refused, but soon after that realized that his project was stopped on the state level, and went for another meeting with the Port.

Goran Pavlovic, the Brif investment fund: I had another meeting with Milan Beko, who offered me five million euros. "Better take anything, than nothing", he said. I will lose the project itself in any case and the right to build the facility, because he believed that the City and Directorate illegally leased the land. He would buy off the shares of the Luxembourg's Brif, I should not stop him, and he would give me three different locations in Belgrade to build something else, whatever I like, and I should give him shares of my company, Mont montaza, which I, naturally, declined.

Because he did not want to sell the company which the Brif investment fund bought in 2007, and at the same time could not do anything with it although City representatives assured him everything was in order, Pavlovic decided to seek help from all the politicians. At one of the meetings with the Port, president of LDP Cedomir Jovanovic was present too, saying that he agreed to go to the meeting on request of Pavlovic himself, because he wanted to give assistance in the resolution of the dispute, which, in his words, emerged as a result of acts by the city's competent institutions.

Port representatives told the Insider that they support all the investors who want to build in the Port area and that the Port contacted owners of Mont montaza, and that they made general agreement on cooperation. The Port said that the whole problem started because Brif did not check what they were buying and who owned the land. If they had, they would have realized that the City representatives made and error and violated the law at the auction in 2004.

At their last meeting, Brif representative Gorana Pavlovic and one of the owners of the Port, Milan Beko, failed to reach agreement, and in the meantime, the dispute between the Port and City resumed. Mont montaza, or Brif, now could not get the permit to open the construction site, although they got the permit for construction in 2005. All the papers were ready and they only had to formally seek the permit to open the construction site from the Secretariat for Urbanism, headed in 2008 by Nenad Komatina.

Goran Pavlovic, the Brif investment fund: It is his duty to respond within eight days since the request for the opening of construction site was submitted, but we waited six months only to find out that our project is missing a fallout shelter.

Nenad Komatina, secretary for urbanism, Belgrade 2004-2008: It was not my decision, it was because of the unresolved dispute between the Port and City. There is a contract from 1975, and they gave each other the land according to that. It is a bad legacy from the past, and in the end the District Court annulled the decision.

B92: But despite all that they got the permit for construction?

Nenad Komatina: The approval for construction.

B92: It is the same.

Nenad Komatina: It is not the same. They got approval in 2005, when they rented the land. After that, the Port annulled it and entered the registry. Until the dispute is over, the Secretariat refuses to be the judge. Not me personally, but the whole department.

B92: But you were the judge. Eight days before the construction site was opened, the request went to you.

Nenad Komatina: Yes, but in the meantime, the Port of Belgrade became the owner in the registry.

B92: And then you demanded that they build a fallout shelter.

Nenad Komatina: Because it is their duty to build a shelter.

B92: But why if everything was stopped?

Nenad Komatina: What do you mean?

B92: Why didn't you tell them that you cannot do anything else until the dispute is resolved?

Nenad Komatina: It is their duty to build the shelter. In the meantime, they got the permit to build the shelter.

B92: First, they got approval to build without the shelter, no one was bothered that there was no shelter. Then, when there this whole problem between the Port and City emerged, it turned out that suddenly they needed a shelter. It seems like buying time in order to stop them until everything is resolved.

Nenad Komatina: I told you already, we don't want to be in a position of a judge between opposing sides. Because obviously, they are the opposing sides.

Goran Pavlovic, the Brif investment fund: I have the impression they were either incompetent or deliberately demanded things from us which we could not know we had to do.

After that, no authorities wanted to meet Pavlovic, while at the same time Brif was paying taxes and fees for a construction land.

Goran Pavlovic, the Brif investment fund: It is as if I spent 25 million euros on nothing. Institutions have given us that money and I cannot be entered into the registry as owner of the project for which the money was raised. And I still cannot start building because I don't have the permit to open the site.

B92: You are still waiting?

Goran Pavlovic: I am still waiting.

Strahinja Sekulic, public attorney of the city of Belgrade: Before the dispute with the Port, the City has given Mont montaza the land, Mont montaza has paid the fee for construction land and now they cannot finish their investment. Those are the facts. A very dangerous thing.

B92: Yes, but if Mont montaza sues the City, the compensation would be paid by citizens of this country?

Strahinja Sekulic: Who else?

Goran Pavlovic, the Brif investment fund: The investors won't give up the money they invested in Serbia, they would try to return their investment every way they can. They want to sue for compensation and damages and reduced profit, which would probably be around 160 to 170 million euros.

Beside this price, which in case Brif filed an international suit against Belgrade, the citizens of Belgrade would have to pay, city authorities and competent institutions have in several mandates done a lot more to damage the budget and citizens.

In the last episode you saw the city government giving away four hectares and 85 are of land at Usce to owner of MPC, Petar Matic by adopting the Detailed Urbanistic Plan.

However, with 76,000 euros per are, which is the price of the state land at Autokomanda reached at an auction, the City budget potentially lost around 37 million euros in this procedure.

In case of the land of Port of Belgrade, after the state's and City's decisions, the City budget would lose billions of euros. First, because the City waited 35 years to enter it into the registry, then because of the decision from the government of Vojislav Kostunica in 2005 to sell the company's shares instead of first making a decision to move the Port and give the state land on auction, up to the decision of the city government to amend the General Plan, which turns the industrial zone into a construction zone, and thus gives away the construction land to owners of the Port without auction.

For now, no one knows if the procedure had been any different, would the land reach the same price at auction as the land the City put on auction in case of Marina Dorcol, which reached up to 120,000 euros per are. According to this, the only relevant price of a city-owned land by the river, the City budget loses two billion and 400 million euros. Thus, at only two locations, thanks to decisions by the city and its competent institutions, the city budget lost, according to the Insider's research, at least two and a half billion euros.

ABUSE OF OFFICE