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DPM Lazović in interview with CdM portal: We are waiting for arguments by opposition ministers

Published date: 20.07.2016 19:50 | Author: PR Service

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Interview by Deputy Prime Minister Vujica Lazović with Montenegrin web portal CdM, 20 July 2016

A media outlet has published today a statement by Deputy Prime Minister Milorad Vujović that the opposition ministers in the Government do not approve not one of the three proposed legal advisers and that they believe that the decision should be taken by a new government after the elections. What will be your answer if this is crystallised as the final position of the opposition members of the Cabinet?

DPM Vujica Lazović: There is one reason why that is not possible, and another one why it is not good for the agreement with A2A to wait for a new government as proposed by the opposition representatives in the Government.

The reason why it is not possible to postpone the agreement is that we would lose the possibility of providing funds for the construction of the Block II of the Thermal Power Plant Pljevlja, as the Czech Export Bank will not be able to finance thermal power plants projects with an installed capacity of less than 300 MW after 1 January 2017. The power of the Block II of the Thermal Power Plant Pljevlja needs to be 254 MW. Prerequisite for a positive decision of the Czech partners is to resolve relations between shareholders of the Electric Power Industry of Montenegro. For this reason, it is not possible to wait for the new government.

Another reason why the delay is not good is that Montenegro should not waste time, and that means money in a situation where the offered alternative "to wait for a new government," which is not really an alternative, but a synonym for the rejection of the construction of the Block II, does not offer any benefits or arguments.

Minister Konjević said last week that they support the construction of the Block II of the Thermal Power Plant, but not the agreement with A2A.

DPM Vujica Lazović: It is because they are unwilling to express their opinion openly. Semi-annual delay of the Block II construction would cause damage to Montenegro and bring direct benefit to energy lobbies that are doing their best to stop this project and make Montenegro dependent on energy import.

We look to streamline the processes to the extent that every day is important for us. If that option were possible, for the reasons the citizens are not informed about, Montenegro would lose money, and the citizens of Pljevlja the opportunity to significantly correct the balance of ecology because it is not politically convenient for someone at this moment.

Is it then a situation which is threatening with political deadlock - part of the Government from the parliamentary majority is in favour, and part from the opposition is against the agreement with A2A and construction of the Block II?

DPM Vujica Lazović: We enabled opposition ministers to take time and examine everything thoroughly and we were willing to hear suggestions. Thus, I believe that we have shown not only own democratic capacity, but, I would say, the greatest possible democratic breakthrough. We have been harmonising the agreement with A2A for a long time and we negotiated excellent terms for Montenegro. We have shown willingness to embrace changes that would be eventually proposed by the opposition ministers. Instead, we got recognition that they are not capable of bringing forth these changes. During the negotiations, we have been told that our legal experts should harmonise the draft agreement with their wishes. We accepted to do that and did it as soon as possible and in the best possible way, and now we get unofficial answers through media that this is unacceptable. So what is acceptable then? Not to build the Block II of the Thermal Power Plant? To provide A2A with the opportunity to sell stocks to whomever they want without our pre-emption right or to initiate arbitration against Montenegro?

Now you are asking questions, and I expect answers.

DPM Vujica Lazović: As you can see, when it comes to the opposition members of the Cabinet, there are only questions, but no answers, except the answer: we will not do it now, because they believe that the citizens of Montenegro recognise the construction of the Block II as something that is good and of high-quality. The story about the alleged "declaration of the new government in disburdened atmosphere" advocated by DPM Vujović on behalf of the opposition members of the Government of electoral trust, is really just the lack of courage to say openly: we are against the construction of the Block II of the Thermal Power Plant Pljevlja. They are against it because they know this is a good project. They do not feel comfortable with the fact that, on the eve of the elections, such a good project is linked to the Government and the parliamentary majority. I think that is the reason. I think it is not good to cause obvious harm to the state and citizens for petty political reasons.

But discussion about this cannot be avoided because this matter will be discussed by the Parliament?

DPM Vujica Lazović:Is there anything more democratic than the fact that both sides in parliament intersect expert arguments? As for us, we have put forward our arguments. Everything is public: we have published the complete information on the results of negotiations between the State of Montenegro and A2A S.p.A, the Draft Shareholders Agreement and the Report on the activities on the construction of the Block II, together with the Feasibility Study. These are the two documents that have been considered by the Government and, apart from what has already been published, there is not a single letter that is hidden or available to members of the government or anyone else, and not the Montenegrin public. We have been waiting for three weeks now to hear arguments of the other side.