Serbia / EU Environment and EU Enlargement Commissions – Stara Planina, Serbia – Update. December 2011. Do EU Commissioners Speak the Truth or Simply ‘Weasel Words’ ?

Stara Planina – Update.  December 2011.

One 24th November 2011, SAV founder Mark wrote a detailed 3 page letter to the following:

Commissioner Janez Potočnik – EU Commissioner for Environment.

Commissioner Štefan Füle  – European Commissioner for (EU) Enlargement  and Neighbourhood Policy.

In his letter, Mark declares to both Commissions of the EU that with regard to the environmental destruction at Stara Planina, Serbia, and also concerning the EU membership (accession) of Serbia in the near future, (Mark declares) that  the EU is not living up to either its stated environmental or enlargement requirements, and that what is said in writing by the Commission to EU citizens by these same Commissioners, is not actually appearing to be undertaken by them in the real world.


Some extracts from Marks letter to the Commissions are as follows:

“‘Stara Planina’ in Serbia; an area of outstanding natural (flora and fauna) beauty, which is now being destroyed by the construction of ski lifts, resorts and runs.  I am attaching for your reference a full copy of the article I recently published re Stara Planina; less all the photographs which were also included.  I attach a few sample photographs for your review as attachments”.

“As Serbia is aiming to very soon become an EU member state; currently seeking accession; the very least that I consider the EU Enlargement Commission should be undertaking, is to verify that the basic requirements of potential new member states observing the ‘rule of law’ is being undertaken”.

“Declaration by Commissioner Štefan Füle:

“Now, the EU, a community of values based on peace and freedom, democracy and the rule of law, as well as tolerance and solidarity is the world’s largest economic zone”.

“I trust that the latest overview of the issue of Stara Planina given in my attachment shows that the rule of law is NOT being implemented within Serbia.  Serbia is very much still a nation which is run by politicians who are corrupt and who do not enforce their own national rule of law; which we are told is a requirement for EU accession”.

“In his ‘environmental’ website declaration, Commissioner Janez Potočnik informs us:

“EU enlargement provides a major opportunity for the environment, but also a significant challenge for the candidate countries that must be able to effectively apply all EU legislation when they join the Union. During the pre-accession period, the Commission is working intensively with Turkey, Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as well as with the potential candidates of south east Europe and Iceland to help them meet the EU’s environmental protection requirements and support them in their efforts to transpose and implement the EU environmental acquis”.

Janez Potočnik –  EU Commissioner for Environment – Does He Care ?

“Again I refer you to my attachment of Stara Planina, and especially draw your attention to the fact that Nicholas Hanley, Head of Unit at the EU environmental department, has basically failed to raise the issue of Stara Planina, Serbia, to anything like a worthwhile degree, at any of his meetings with the Serbian authorities.  This is despite his written declarations to me personally that he would undertake this as far back as March 2011.  Full copies of correspondence between Mr. Hanley and myself on the issue of Stara Planina are provided in the attachments”.

“All the time both the EU Environmental and  the EU Enlargement Commissions are ignoring the issue of democratic opinion in relation to projects such as Stara Planina, Serbia, along with the democratic rights of Serbian citizens to be able to question the issue of any proposed constructions on this site, the enforcement of ‘the EU rule of law’ which you both so strongly talk about in  your website statements.  Serbia is currently failing in both its environemental and enlargement requirements to apply the rule of law as allegedly required for EU member state accession”. 

“The EU Commissions; your Commissions are failing – both in their environmental and enlargement approaches.  You say one thing on your web sites whilst actually doing something else which is completely different in reality; or in the case of Mr. Hanley and Stara Planina, apparent ignorance or a complete lack of desrire to address the issues and the environmental destruction which is taking place”.

“I await your responses with very much interest, informing me when you are actually going to start ensuring that Serbia enforces the rule of law with regard the environment, and giving its citizens their democratic right to oppose such destruction as is being witnessed at Stara Planina”.

“One has to ask if, as Commissioners for both the environment and for EU enlargement, if you actually have any concerns relatinng to the exact issues which you declare are so important on your websites the rule of law and democracy.  From where I stand as an EU citizen, but also as an experienced environmental campaigner in Serbia fighting the environmental destruction at Stara Planina, I tell myself that you really have no real concerns”.

“Now it is up to you to take immediate action with the Serbian government and authorities regarding  both environmental destruction at stara Planina, and also why people are not being allowed to represent their opposition to such projects through the ‘rule of law’ within Serbia.  This needs to be undertaken before Serbia is given EU accession; not put on the back burner as you have done for many years, only for the Serbian authorities to go the very same way as the Romanian authorities are now; ignoring the requirements of EU memebership and simply doing just what they want”.


… And So ……

And so, representation to both EU Commissions with prime responsibility for Serbian accession to the EU have now been made in relation to the environmental destruction at Stara Planina, and especially the inability of serbian citizens to express their concerns about same.

At the time of writing this post – 22nd December 2011, SAV have still not had any written response from any commission at the EU.

Maybe the EU is finally adressing the issue of Stara Planina with the Serbian authorities; something which should have been undertaken several years ago rather than now, when all the destruction of flora and fauna has taken place.

Maybe as appears to have been the case in the past, we are continuing to be ignored by the EU Commission; especially as they have not even acknowledged our formal letter, let alone reply formally. 

Hopefully, time will tell one way or the other in the very near future – does the EU actually undertake what is declared by its Commissioners, or does it say one thing whilst going down a completely different path – that of doing nothing in reality ?

Copies of this post are being provided to both EU Commissions as reminders that we request a written response, and that if and when this is provided; you, our international supporters, will be informed of what action is / is not being undertaken by the EU Commissions for both the environment and for future EU nation membership.

We continue to look forward in hope to a response.

Below – The better days of Stara Planina