Serbia and the EU: Does the EU Dog Wag the ‘Environmental’ Tail, or the Serbian Government (EU Accession) Tail Actually Wag the EU Dog ??

Letters of protest please to the following EU Contacts:

This is the current situation regarding the EU and the subject of ‘Stara Planina’, Serbia.

On 30th March this year, Nicholas Hanley at the EU responded to SAV regarding their original letter regarding environmental destruction taking place by the Serbian authorities at ‘Stara Planina’.

Mr. Hanley responded with the following mail to Mark Johnson, SAV founder:



To:  Mark Johnson


Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 2:57 PM

Subject: Stara Planina

Dear Mr. Johnson,

I would like to thank you for bringing to our attention the information on the situation of the sites Stara Planina, Kopaonik and others in Serbia. The European Commission can only formally register complaints regarding non-respect of EU legislation in EU member states.

Serbia, as a potential candidate country to the EU, is not bound by EU legislation yet, so we are unable to take any legal action regarding complaints on environmental matters. However, the Commission is always open to receiving information from the public on the situation of environment in non-EU member states.

The Commission is aware of the situation of the Stara Planina and we are addressing this issue in the context of the EU enlargement process. In this context and in order to receive updated information from the Serbian government, we are going to raise the question on the situation of the Stara Planina site at the next EU – Serbia Sub-Committee Meeting that will take place early April in Belgrade. I will be able afterwards to come back to you with more information.

I would also like to take this opportunity to assure you that we are working with the authorities of Serbia to help them bring the environmental policy in the country up to EU standards.

Yours sincerely,

Nicholas Hanley
Head of Unit


By July 20th, SAV had still not been informed (the ‘comeback afterwards’) of anything regarding an update relating to Stara Planina or the result of the early April meeting in Belgrade.  Because the EU / Mr. Hanley had provided no response, SAV founder Mark Johnson wrote again to Nicholas Hanley on 20th July 2011 in an attempt to obtain further information.  A copy of his e mail is shown below:


From: Mark Johnson
Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 4:17 PM
To: HANLEY Nicholas (ENV)
Cc: Dragan Jovanovic; Zoran Karic
Subject: Re: Stara Planina

Dear Mr. Hanley;

I write regarding your e mail which is provided below – regarding the situation of environmental (flora and fauna) destruction at Stara Planina in Serbia.

I note from your mail that the specific issue of Stara planina was to be addressed with the Serbian government at the EU – Serbia Sub-Committee Meeting that I can only assume actually did take place early April in Belgrade.

As I have not been provided with any information relating to the April meeting, and being asked of potential results by many associates within Serbia, I would be very grateful if you could provide me with an overview of the meeting, specifically relating to the Stara Planina issue, and what actions, if any, were proposed by the government of Serbia.

As you say in your mail, ‘we are working with the authorities of Serbia to help them bring the environmental policy in the country up to EU standards; I therefore trust that the Serbian government was informed at the April meeting about the environmental destruction they have taken at Stara Planina and that in order to rise to ‘EU standards’ when they become a member state, they are making necessary changes to their environmental destruction approach, which has been clearly demonstrated at SP.

When you have time; I would appreciate an update on the situation of Stara Planina and the information provided by the Serbian government.

I would like to provide my international supporters  with an update of the current situation of / at SP.

Many thanks,


Mark Johnson

Founder – ‘Serbian Animals Voice’ (SAV) – Kent, England, Uk.


As a result of asking these questions (to the EU) about the Belgrade meeting and what actions for same were proposed by the Serbian government at the meeting; the following mail was forwarded to SAV founder Mark Johnson from the EU on 29th July 2011:



To:  Mark Johnson

Sent: Friday, July 29, 2011 4:19 PM

Subject: RE: Stara Planina

Dear Mr. Johnson,

On behalf of Mr. Hanley, I would like to inform you that we have raised the issue of Stara Planina during the meeting with the Serbian authorities in April 2011. However, due to the heavy agenda and the limited time available for the discussions, it was agreed that information will be submitted to the Commission in writing.

We will keep you informed once we have received more information from the Serbian authorities.

Best regards,

Madalina Ivanica


So, the EU Environmental people are too busy to deal with environmental issues which affect potential future EU member states ?

As a result, SAV founder Mark Johnson yet again responded to the EU on 31st July 2011, expressing major concerns that the EU really has no power, or does not appear to hold any power, with future EU accession member states (Serbia), and that the EU is simply powerless and is being completely dictated to by those who are causing environmental destructions as seen at Stara Planina, namely the Serbian government. 

The mail from Mark Johnson to the powerless and un-informative EU institution of which Mr. Hanley is ‘department head’, can been viewed below:


From:  Mark Johnson



Sent: Sunday, July 31, 2011 2:04 PM

Subject: Re: Stara Planina

Dear Madalina;

I thank you for your mail of 29 July, as shown below.

The main role of the European Commission’s Environment Directorate-General (DG) is to initiate and define new environmental legislation and to ensure that agreed measures are put into practice in the EU Member States“.

From the site of Janez Potočnik – European Commissioner for the Environment –

Despite what you say and with all the good intentions; I find your response completely unacceptable.

The information which I was provided with on 30 March 2011 by Mr. Hanley declared:

“The Commission is aware of the situation of the Stara Planina and we are addressing this issue in the context of the EU enlargement process. In this context and in order to receive updated information from the Serbian government, we are going to raise the question on the situation of the Stara Planina site at the next EU – Serbia Sub-Committee Meeting that will take place early April in Belgrade. I will be able afterwards to come back to you with more information”.

Your mail of 29 July can provide me with no further information other than to say that you have left the issue of Serbian flora and fauna destruction in Serbia with those who are performing Serbian flora and fauna destruction – namely the Serbian government.

If my experience of attempting to deal with the Serbian government over environmental / animal welfare issues during the past 7 years has taught me anything, it is simply that Serbian government officials are bent, corrupt and will do everything iin their power to avoid having to respond to you, me, anyone about Stara Planina until all the destruction has been done; flora / fauna species have been depleted and certain Serbian officials havve money rolling in – to their personal backs pockets one would guess.

The EU is supposed to be fighting to stop environmental destruction at facilites such  as Stara Planina.  What we see as a result of your last meeting in Belgrade appears to be another ‘back burner job’ with the Serbian authorities setting the agenda and dictating to you when you will be getting a response about the environmental destruction that they are doing at Stara Planina. 

I guess that is very much a case of the Serbian government telling you what you wish to hear in order that the EU Accession door is kept wide open for their membership in the near future.  Animals and plant species coming a very poor second.

If anyone, either you (the EU) or the Serbian government, does care about environmental destruction in Serbia at locations such as Stara Planina, then can I suggest that your oh so busy time limited discussions should have been extended to consider such issues as environmental destruction in Serbia.  Possibly you will learn to allocate more time for your next Serbian meeting so that Serbian environmental issues, which so many exiasting EU citizens have big concerns about, can actually be addressed and sorted out there and then, rather than simply being jotted down on notes, and responsibility for further actions being put back in the hands of corrupt politicians – those running Serbia.

Please look at the photographs I am attaching and take time to ask yourself – is this something which should be left with bent and corrupt officials on the back burner of meetings with the EU ? – more continued destruction until the next important EU / Serbia meeting ? – then to be put off once again ? – I suggest not.  Obviously you feel differently.  So what power to the ‘EU man’ on issues such as this ?

Lets say that if I have not had further response from the Serbian government and also yourselves on the issue of Stara Planinna by Monday 22nd August, I will be informing all global supporters to my site that the EU has left the issue of Stara Planina environmental destruction in the hands of those who are responsible for this exact thing; a bent and corrupt Serbian government.

I hope and very much trust that you will inform the Serbian authorities that the issue of environmental destruction (by them) at Stara Planina is still being monitored by EU NGO’s, and that every attempt to expose the environmental destruction at this facility will continue to a global audience.  Can I suggest that you provide me with a written copy of the Serbian government response on Stara Planina by Monday 22nd August, as I have no faith in being led up the written / verbal path that some future meeting of yours in Belgrade sometime in the distant future is going to do anything to halt the killing of species of wild animals and plants in the SP sector of Serbia.

I very much look forward to your / Serbian government response by Monday 22nd August; otherwise it will then be necessary to make public, to EU government and international press, the failings which have taken place at the Belgrade meeting of April 2011.

If there is no response by the Serbian government on the issue of Stara Planina by 22 August in relation to the April Belgrade meeting; then I consider this a failure by all parties concerned. 5 months is long enough for the Serbian authorities to respond;

I very much suggest that they do and that you and Commissioner Potocnik ask them to act; and quickly.

Regards – Mark Johnson.

Founder ‘Serbian Animals Vioce

Kent, England, Uk, EU.

E mail Copy to

Janez Potočnik is the European Commissioner for the Environment; who declares on his site:

“The Directorate-General for the Environment is one of the more than 40 Directorates-General and services that make up the European Commission. Commonly referred to as DG Environment, the objective of the Directorate-General is to protect, preserve and improve the environment for present and future generations. To achieve this it proposes policies that ensure a high level of environmental protection in the European Union and that preserve the quality of life of EU citizens.

The DG makes sure that Member States correctly apply EU environmental law. In doing so it investigates complaints made by citizens and non-governmental organisations and can take legal action if it is deems that EU law has been infringed. In certain cases DG Environment represents the European Union in environmental matters at international meetings such as the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity”.


With all this past history and the complete lack of real involvement by the EU authorities to become involved, or take on board the issues raised about Stara Planina in Serbia; a potential new EU accession member state, it has been left to the NGO institutions such as Serbian campaigners and SAV to investigate further.

Regarding his e mail of 30th March, and the declaration by Nicholas Hanley (EU) that “I will be able afterwards to come back to you with more information”; SAV have been provided with nothingapart from excuses as to why there has been no progression regarding EU awareness on the issue of Stara Planina.

In our opinion, the EU are doing very, very little regarding the issue of Serbian environmental destruction with the Serbian government, who at the same time, ARE wishing to become EU members !


Despite asking the EU for a Serbian government response on the issue of Stara Planina by Monday 22nd August; now on 13th November 2011, the EU (Mr. Hanley) has provided no further information to SAV.

So much for his March 30th declaration of :

“I will be able afterwards to come back to you with more information”. 

SAV would suggest that Mr. Hanley wishes to keep Stara Planina on the back burner; no urgency from him to follow up with answers from the Serbian government, whilst the EU environmental commission sits by and lets flora and fauna be destroyed at Stara Planina.  If this is not the case, then where is our EU mail informing us of the situation ?

The promise of – “We will keep you informed once we have received more information from the Serbian authorities”.

EU and the Serbian government; – Does the dog wag the tail or is the tail wagging the dog ?

Unlike being given any update for months from the EU, we at SAV have now been provided with an update by Dr.Miroslav Demajo, who has been a campaigner / adviser relating to problems associated with the Zvezdara forest in Belgrade.  Despite being a protected area, and a long fight by environmentalists to stop road construction through the forest, there is still no result from the Belgrade City parliament, who should have voted on this issue way back around April 2011.

Through environmental campaigners in Serbia, we can now focus again on the environmental situation at Stara Planina and the complete ignorance of the EU to really address the situation.

The following are copies of the two documents issued by the Serbian authorities.


Below is the information provided to SAV by the Serbian environmental campaigners.

Attached are both documents, records of the inspection from the year 2009 and final answer – response of the public prosecutor of the municipality of the town Zajecar.. The response was after 2 years in order to be outdated and not valid anymore. The police investigation was opened in the police station in Knjazevac, police headquarters No. 230-75/09, ie in the year 2009 and continued after only one year ie. 20th Sept. 2010, and another two times, purely curtiously, 8th of April 2011 and 24th of October 2011, and according to this, they concluded (this we will ask for an insight, to get copies of these police actions and what they have written) that there is no basis for activating the procedure for a criminal offence which is subjected to be processed by official duty.

In the records of the inspector, which they overlooked, IS stated the criminal offence as well as economic breach ie. feloney , so this was not processed as it should have been.

All this they stopped and that is it. While writing the report, the inspector applied the then current rules and laws and at the time, this was to be further processed according to the then contemporary laws. Later they changed all of this, and this is it, the result, not valid anymore.

This is an excellent example of how even when the inspector acts as he should, the prosecutor does not act or vice versa, in any way, it is the aim not to react.

According to this, in case we are not satisfied and we consider that a law is infringed, they often write that we may complain that the law has been broken, in this case a protected natural region which belongs to all Serbian citizens, and that we may submit a private accusation / prosecution against whom we consider responsible and start a law suit process concerned with criminal acts etc. 

It is all Serbian citizens are damaged by these actions and government rulings which have not been undertaken correctly.

These law suits are extremely costly and we do not have money for such activities, especially as all the inspector did as the official organ and as official duty, we would have to accuse the inspector also and all this as a private law suit. All this is happening as they do not know what to do with us as all trials to bribe us failed, we are immune to pressures, we always only try the application and respect of current Serbian laws, nothing more and nothig less, this is basic.

As a consequence of not applying Serbian laws, one of the condition of Copenhagen Documents and EU membership, that every country must apply and respect current laws, in order to avoid violation of human rights, we consider that our human rights are threatened as the country usually does not apply them, it does not respect and process laws, thus we live in a jungle where the rules are the stronger rule, by those who steal the money and undertake other criminal activities.

It is not a secret that Serbia is highly ranked in corruption, and that political parties are in deals with rich businessmen (who amounted riches thanks to the period from 1991 up to now).

Translations of two original documents follow :


Republic of Serbia

Principle Public Prosecuter



                          Alliance for Animal Rights


                                                                                                Street Matka Vukovića No 9


There is no basis for processing the criminal act under the accusation submitted by the Alliance for Animal Rights from the 4th of Augustn 2008, concerning the construction in the ski center „Stara Planina“, located at Babin zub within the Nature Park „Stara Planina“ based on the report of the Police Station Knjaževac from Police Headquarters under No 230-750/09 dated 20th Sept.2010, 8th April 2011 and 24th Oct. 2011, this being a criminal act to be processed on official line of duty.

                                                                        Deputy Public prosecutor

                                                                        Dragana Sibinović

                                                                        (Official Seal placed here)



Sector for Control and Supervision

No. 353-501-sl09-04

Date 20.08.2009


Alliance for Animal Rights


                                                                                    Matka vukovića 9

 Subject: Announcement

According to the complaint forwarded to the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning concerning the construction of ski lifts on Stara Planina and other constructions, we inform you that all legal measures have been taken into account.

Due to the clear forest cutting with the purpose of constructing the ski lift, an official criminal offense accusation was filed against the Serbian Public Company “Srbijašume” (Forest Company, translation) for ski lift construction contrary to the conditions set by the Sebian Inst. For Nature protection, with prosecutions filed against 2 other subjects on the basis of economic felony, Public Company “Putevi” (Roads, translation) and Directory for Town Construction Zaječar for not complying to the conditions set by the Serbian Inst, for Nature Protection. For using explosives inside the Nature Park, prosecution was filed against Company ’Zaječar’ from  Zaječar.

Concerning the placement of nets on the ski path and consolidation of dam, all conditions were met as set by the Inst. For Nature Protection. Also The Study on the Evaluation of Environmental Impact  for the above objects was obtained.        

I also note that the Program for the Management of Nature Park ’Stara Planina“ (the end date for this set by Decree, article 11) is prepared as well as the definition of new Park boundries changed by the new Decree (Official Gazette, Rep. Of Serbia, No 23/09).


Respectfully                                                Republic Inspector

                                                                     Dragana Šelmić


                                                            (Official Seal, placed here)


How very typical that Mr. Nicholas Hanley at the EU and his senior Commissioner have failed to undertake all the necessary investigations and actions associated with Stara Plannina and Serbian EU accession regarding the ‘rule of law’; implementation of which is a fundamental requirement for both existing member states and those currently seeking EU accession, such as Serbia.

In this case, the EU has failed and failed well.  As we have said in the past, Serbia is bypassing the rule of law and simply making up its rules to benefit its own, corrupt government and corrupt system.  And all the time, the EU ignores the warning signs as we have presented to Mr. Hanley; instead it talks tough, actually having as much clout with future EU accession member state governments as a damp feather waved in a hurricane.  But despite this, all the time, animals are being killed and the environment destroyed.

The EU has failed on the issue of Stara Planina.  Hopefully, this report will bring an all too late response from Mr. Hanley; but even a late one is better than the ‘nothing’ we have had to date from the EU relating to actual EU progressive action with the Serbian authorities at Stara Planina.

Months and months of broken promises by the EU and a bent, corrupt Serbian government which wags the ‘EU Dog’. 

It is now time to move on and expose the lack of EU action regarding Stara Planina. This (post) information is now being presented to the Uk national press with the hope they will investigate further and ask Mr. Hanley the question

– ‘what is the EU actually doing about future EU accession states such as Serbia and the implementation of the rule of (environmental) law ?’.

We suggest this can be answered in one word by the EU – NOTHING’.

Previous posts associated with the Stara Planina environmental campaign:

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