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Foreign-funded NGOs seek to overthrow government – president – RT World News

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Foreign-funded NGOs seek to overthrow government – president – RT World News

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Serbian leader insists Western governments funded protests that sank $2.7bn lithium mine

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has brushed aside denials from Western governments that they were the ones to fund environmental protests that forced Belgrade to abandon an ambitious mining project.

He doubled down on the accusations made by his prime minister, saying those who had funded the protests through various NGOs had sought to harm his administration.

“These foreign foundations are helping to overthrow the government in Serbia”, he said in an interview with local media. “These protests have nothing to do with the environment.”

Vucic was referring to plans by British-Australian mining conglomerate Rio Tinto to build a lithium mine near the town of Loznica in western Serbia.

Environmental organizations had staged a series of mass protests against the mine since November, closing major highways and pressuring the government. Last week they scored a victory, when Prime Minister Ana Brnabic announced the project would be scrapped.

As she announced the change of plans on Thursday, Brnabic denounced the organizers of the protest. She accused them of getting money for their activities from foreign donors, whom she called hypocritical.

Most of the funding, she said, came from the United States, Britain, Germany and Austria through non-profit organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the USAID, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the British Council and the Heinrich Böll Foundation.


Foreign-funded NGOs seek to overthrow government – president – RT World News

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The United States, United Kingdom and Germany rejected the claims, saying Brnabic’s claims were “harmful” and did not “reflect our partnership with Serbia.” The three nations said in a joint statement on Friday that they had been “among its most generous and trusted partners and friends, providing assistance funding totaling well over €3 billion [$3.4 billion].” They denied having participated in “funding or directing actions specifically targeting the Serbian government or any of its policies”, including through the provision of funds for demonstrations.

In an interview on Saturday, Vucic said the prime minister had fought for the welfare of the Serbian people by supporting the lithium mine project, but could not overcome the resistance of those who sought to halt the project by stirring up public opposition. . In the end, the government had to give in to the demands of the people, he said.

If the project had been implemented, the Jadar mine would have been one of the largest of its kind in the world. Rio Tinto had pledged to invest 2.4 billion euros ($2.7 billion) and promised to use local labor for construction and create around 1,000 permanent jobs that would go mainly to local workers.

The multinational expected production to start in 2027, making Serbia a major supplier of raw materials for manufacturing lithium-ion batteries – the backbone of the global transition to electric vehicles and renewable energy.

Foreign-funded NGOs seek to overthrow government – president – RT World News

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