Serbia’s minister calls for closer regional energy cooperation during trilateral meeting

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Serbia’s Mining and Energy Minister Dubravka Đedović Handanović called for closer regional cooperation in reaching net-zero targets during a recent meeting with her counterparts from Montenegro and Republika Srpska, Sasha Mujović and Petar Đokić.

“We all need more electrical energy for the future, especially green energy, and the only way to achieve that is by building new capacities. Either we all benefit by constructing new power plants and working on interconnections, or we all lose out, meaning we become less energy-independent and less energy-secure, which especially in the conditions of energy transition and energy crisis is not in anyone’s interest,” said Minister Đedović Handanović. “Serbia’s position is that we should work together and try to make it easier for each other to achieve our goals.”

“The construction of the Trans-Balkan corridor is particularly important, which will increase our capacities in the transmission network, connect the markets of Romania and Serbia with the markets of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Italy, and it is also a condition for connecting to the network of HPP Bistrica, which is a strategically important project for us,” Minister Đedović Handanović added.

During the recent trilateral meeting, the energy ministers discussed how to “move forward together faster” in energy projects that involve cross-border cooperation and require the involvement of all three sides. “The power companies of Serbia and Republika Srpska have already initiated a joint project to build HPP Buk Bijela, which is a significant energy capacity. The project is justified both energetically and commercially, and we discussed removing barriers unrelated to energy. The hydropower potential of the Drina River is a common and very significant energy potential for both Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and we discussed how to best utilise it,” said the Serbian minister.

As Minister Đedović Handanović noted, the meeting also raised plans to build hydropower plants in Montenegro, which can be considered as areas for cooperation, either from the perspective of joint implementation or cross-border impacts and environmental protection. “We have proposed to create a dynamic plan related to solving environmental protection issues so that we can find a way to meet all conditions for the projects we plan to implement,” the minister added.

Montenegro’s Energy and Mining Minister said that the entire region is “in the same train of energy transition, which will go through twists and turns for many years to come in order to ensure sufficient amounts of electricity for everyone and jobs for those whose livelihoods are threatened by the energy transition.”

“The more united we are and the more we act together towards the Energy Community and defend our common goals, the stronger we will be. It is particularly important to work on strengthening transmission capacities that are significant for all three sides,” the Montenegrin minister added.

“Republika Srpska is interested in collaborating with others in the region on energy issues of common interest. We have agreed to further strengthen transmission and distribution networks, which are necessary for connecting new renewable energy production capacities,” Đokić said.

Minister Đokić emphasised that Republika Srpska will do everything to continue the construction of HPP Buk Bijela, and both Serbia’s government and Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) have shown that they want the project to continue to develop. He added that certain environmental protection issues causing concern should be addressed, and when answering those questions, the stance of experts should be respected.

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