Aleksandar Vucic, Serbia's President, told reporters on Wednesday that he had returned a controversial Law on Expropriation to the Parliament because of "insanely short deadlines," although it wasn't in collision with the country's Constitution.
He said he pledged with the Government to make some changes to the Law on Referendum, which he had signed to fulfil the demands of thousands of people who protested over the last two weekends against both laws, saying they were tailored to suit Rio Tinto’s lithium mining in western Serbia.
In the meantime, N1 learned that the European Parliament (EP) would discuss the protests in dozens of Serbia’s cities and the reports on „forced labour“ in the Chinese Linglong tire factory in the north of the country.
Following the news, environmentalists said new protests would not be organised if the Parliament passed the changes to the Law on Referendum.
Vucic denied he yielded to the protests though earlier claimed the street would not lead politics in Serbia.
He also blamed ministers who, as he said, did not bother to organise a broad debate on the Law on Expropriation and did visit the area most affected by a potential mine to talk to people there.
He said what he did was „answering the needs of citizens and people who are afraid that someone is doing something against their interests. I don’t intend to do anything against them.“
Speaking about Rio Tinto’s plans to open a lithium mine in the Jadra Valley, Vucic said that „we have to see essentially whether we want to have that mine or not,“ and that a public debate should be held on the issue.
He said the public debate should be the broadest possible and could last up to six months.
Presidential, early general and Belgrade elections are due on April 3, and some analysts say such moves could be motivated by the forthcoming vote.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Government withdrew the Law on Expropriation, announcing a broad debate on it and said it would change several articles of the Law on Referendum.