A leaked proposal by Hungary’s MVM Group that would see Serbia cede much of its hydropower resources has been seized on by the Serbian opposition and energy experts as another damaging consequence of the close ties between the countries’ leaders.
Energy experts and opposition politicians in Serbia are accusing the government of preparing to hand over control of the country’s hydropower riches to Hungary under an ‘offer’ that they say is the latest worrying example of the burgeoning business ties between President Aleksandar Vucic and Hungary’s Viktor Orban.
On Sunday, economist Dusan Nikezic, deputy leader of the opposition Party of Justice and Freedom, went public with what he said was a leaked proposal from Hungary’s MVM Group for a joint venture with Serbian state energy enterprise Elektroprivreda Srbija, EPS.
Under the plan, MVM Group would put 600 million euros into the new venture, and EPS would cede 11 hydropower plants, which together make up one of Serbia’s chief renewable energy resources.
The Ministry of Mining and Energy accused “certain individuals” within EPS of spreading panic, but did not deny the existence of such an offer. The Supervisory Board of EPS said no deal had been reached, but also did not deny that the proposal was made.
The opposition, meanwhile, has accused the government of negotiating behind the backs of the Serbian public and taking another step towards the privatisation of EPS, a vital strategic company at a time of great change and uncertainty in the energy sector.
Under Vucic and Orban, Serbia and Hungary have deepened their energy cooperation and MVM Group in particular has strong ties with Serbian companies closely linked to Vucic’s ruling Serbian Progressive Party, SNS.
“This is a direct consequence of the ‘friendship’ between Vucic and Orban,” Nikezic told BIRN, “which we pay for with Serbian hydropower plants and the privatisation of EPS.”
The Ministry of Mining and Energy did not response to a request for comment for this story