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Montenegro holds off on Tara Resources concession decision amid legal scrutiny and citizen backlash

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The decision to terminate the concession agreement with the Swiss company Tara Resources, which was supposed to open the Brskovo mine in Mojkovac, will be delayed, according to Prime Minister Milojko Spajić. Serious legal analyses are needed, he says, to avoid penalties for the state. On the other hand, the Healthy Mojkovac Civic Initiative believes that the government succumbed to pressure and did not meet the expectations of the citizens.

Although the working group for the analysis of the concession agreement with Tara Resources did not give consent for the opening of the Brskovo mine two days ago, a new expectation follows instead of verifying their decision.

“The Ministry of Finance was reserved on this issue in the commission because we did not have, we did not know about the risks involved if we terminate such an agreement. I think a deep analysis by an international legal firm is necessary to analyze the risks that can produce significant fiscal consequences for our country,” said Spajić.

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The Healthy Mojkovac Civic Initiative states that such a government decision is frightening for all citizens. They suspect that the Ministry of Finance sided with the concessionaire, and the state, they say, succumbed to the pressure of foreign embassies and domestic politicians.

While opinions are divided among the citizens of Mojkovac on the fate of the Brskovo mine, there is widespread concern.

Dragićević: Humiliation of Montenegrin Institutions

Civil activist Aleksandar Dragićević announced his disappointment with the decision of the Montenegro government to wait with the termination of the concession agreement with the Swiss company Tara Resources, which was supposed to open the Brskovo mine in Mojkovac. He emphasizes that experts have already made an assessment of this case, and that such a decision by the government is a continuation of the humiliation of Montenegrin institutions.

“Our best people from institutions in Montenegro, from the civil sector, worked on this case for a month, four times a week, almost all day. We already had opinions; I will visit to see that the contract with the concessionaire for Brskovo, the lead and zinc mine, expired on July 29 last year. The government of Dritan Abazović in a technical mandate did not want to come out and verify the end of that contract. Mr. Ervin Ibrahimović was decisive on that matter. Minister Saša Mujović then had consultations, certain documents; it was evident that the contract could be easily terminated, or it could be simply stated that the contract had expired. However, the formation of a commission by the government was requested; the commission was formed, they expressed their opinions, they drew conclusions, Montenegrin institutions listed all possible things explicitly,” said Dragićević on the “Pretres” show, which airs every Friday on all three public media.

He considers the time to be wasted, and that such a decision by the government is a continuation of the humiliation of Montenegrin institutions.

“We say that our institutions are not good enough to make a decision that has been made. Investors are buying time. Why do you think this is being done? Because this is the investor’s request to buy six months or a year to see if there will be political changes. Because these investors are very aggressive when they are active,” emphasized the activist.

Regarding lobbying, he notes that ambassadors were involved.

He reminds that a similar situation occurred in Macedonia, where the investor had no plans to open the mine but came to the final papers and sold the mine.

“In Macedonia, they did it for 175 million euros. They have another project in Serbia, one in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is a very big scheme, talking about hundreds of millions, if not billions of euros, and now time is being bought. Today is the same, I think, and Minister Mujović is humiliated, who has been advocating from the beginning to completely terminate this bad deal for Montenegro so that they can continue and work. However, Mr. Spajić’s tactic, when it comes to dealing with problems, as for the police, as for Mr. Milović, and this one for the Brskovo mine is to put these problems under the rug, and they may be resolved eventually,” Dragićević said for RTCG.

He stressed that it is crucial that the mine cannot be legally opened for a thousand and one reasons.

“One of these reasons is that a detailed spatial plan cannot be adopted. Another reason is that, by annex 4 of the contract, the investor took on the role of the state and said that the state is not responsible in case it cannot fulfill anything. We cannot export cinnabar; that ore contains mercury. There are a thousand and one things to uncover about that mine. Today, it just needed to be stated. We entered, so to speak, into the betrayal of the state today. I am very disappointed,” he concluded.

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