The US Ambassador to Serbia, Christopher, Hill told the Serbian state TV (RTS) that the most important thing for American companies is that, sooner or later, Serbia will join the European Union (EU) and that the Serbian people will be the ones to decide on Rio Tinto’s operations in Serbia.
Hill said he is aware that many people in Serbia worry whether Serbia will ever join the EU, but that American companies believe this will happen. “When you look at the map, and that is important to everyone, you see that Serbia is in a very good spot. If you build a factory here, you are very close to the EU, and you will soon be in EU”, said the Ambassador.
He added that the Open Balkans initiative and the Berlin Process are similar initiatives because they broaden the market for companies and factories.
Such integration projects that facilitate and speed up regionalization are a good idea, said Hill, adding that Serbia has a special responsibility because it is bigger than some other Balkan countries and should help some of them overcome the historical legacy and the lack of trust.
“Once this happens, and I am certain it will, I believe this initiative will be useful not only for Serbia but also for its neighbours”, Ambassador Hill added.
Asked if he supports the Rio Tinto project in Serbia, the US Ambassador said he does not want to get involved in that dispute “right in the middle of a lawsuit” brought against Serbia by this company for stopping the Jadar project.
“I will only say that the Serbian people will decide on how they want to organize their economy and whether they want an economy based on mining because there are many mines in Serbia, and some of them belong to China, like the copper one in Bor”, said Hill.
To remind, Rio Tinto has been trying for more than two years to obtain approval to open a lithium exploration mine in Serbia. The Serbian government did say that the Rio Tinto lithium project in Serbia had been stopped and that all line authorities would immediately suspend all relevant procedures.
Nevertheless, the Ministry of Mining and Energy has not stopped the procedure for issuing the permit for lithium exploitation, but over the course of two years, without giving clear reasons, extended the deadline for the company to complete the relevant documentation 11 times.
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