Anti-lithium performance in front US Embassy, Belgrade

Author:N1 Belgrade 03.03.2023

The ‘Kreni – Promeni’ (‘Go-Change’)” campaign staged a performance on Friday outside the US Embassy building in Belgrade in protest against US Ambassador Christopher Hill’s support for the Rio Tinto company and lithium mining. Following the performance, the Ambassador stepped outside to talk to the performers.

Campaign director Savo Manojlovic said they came to express their dissatisfaction with the Ambassador’s statement that Rio Tinto is not just an ordinary mining project and that the US is trying to support this company in Serbia.

He described Hill’s statement as completely impermissible and said they deeply believe it is contrary to the values of the Ambassador’s country.

He noted that when talking about democracy, Thomas Jefferson said that “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny,” and that a people’s initiative to ban lithium mining was submitted to the Serbian Parliament last year which, contrary to the Constitution, has still not been put on the agenda.

Manojlovic reminded the US Ambassador that mass protests have been held in Serbia against lithium mining and told him that, if the US has interest in Serbia, it will not support the Rio Tinto project in any way.

Hill told Manojlovic that he gave the statement on lithium to the Glas Sumadije (Voice of Sumadija) portal and that he very much respects local media and seriously replies to all their questions the same way he does when speaking for big media outlets.

The Ambassador said his second principle is to be frank, so he told Manojlovic that he will be frank with him too.

I want to be clear – how Serbs decide on their economy, development, on what raw materials they will use, that is Serbia’s business, said Hill, adding that nothing any foreign diplomat says will change that.

He said Glas Sumadije asked him for his opinion on lithium and that he said he believes Serbia needs more green energy. Lithium has to do with electric vehicles, that will be Serbia’s decision, but Serbia needs more electric cars, and that is part of modern economy, said Hill.

The Ambassador emphasized that the decision on this matter is for Serbia to make, but that he has the right to voice his opinion.

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