The Prime Ministers of the autonomous Serbian Republic of Bosnia and neighboring Serbia started construction of a 125-megawatt hydropower plant on the Drina on Monday, which will help diversify their future energy mix. The Buk Bijela Dam and Plant, near the eastern Bosnian city of Foca, will be part of a system of three hydropower plants on the river valued at around 1.1 billion Bosnian marks ($ 683.2 million), said the Prime Minister of the Republic Srpska, Radovan Viskovic, told reporters.
Construction is expected to take four years. “We are proud that we are building it with Serbia … it means life, connection, survival and prosperity,” said Viskovic.
The peace agreement, which ended a war from 1992 to 1995, resulted in Bosnia being divided into two autonomous regions – the Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croatian Federation – with weak central institutions. The Buk Bjela project was not approved by the Bosnian central authorities responsible for cross-border projects.
Belgrade, which supports the Republika Srpska, will use a large part of the 484 million euros ($ 587.91 million) earmarked for joint infrastructure projects with Bosnia to co-finance the project, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said. Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic on Twitter warned Serbia that its role in the project could damage bilateral relations.
“The Serbian authorities need to know that they not only risk economic damage, but also do not contribute to good neighborly relations,” said Turkovic. Environmentalists from Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro, all of whom border the Drina, also oppose the development of such plants as they say they harm the environment.
The total installed power generation capacity in Bosnia consists of 2,083 MW from larger hydropower plants and 2,065 MW from coal-fired power plants. Small hydropower plants, wind, solar and biomass account for a further 112.15 MW. ($ 1 = 0.8232 euros)
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