Large-scale protests against a controversial $3bn United Arab Emirates-backed development project in Belgrade broke out again in Serbia on Wednesday, putting further scrutiny on what opponents say is a corrupt relationship between Belgrade and Abu Dhabi.
About 9,000 people braved bad weather to protest the Belgrade Waterfront project in front of city hall, chanting, “Thieves! We will not let you do this!”.
Demonstrators then marched to various state-controlled media outlets to protest a lack of critical coverage of the project that has raised major questions for the public over their country’s dealings with the UAE.
The protests against the project – designed to be a luxury complex of shops, hotels, offices and apartments in the heart of Belgrade – follow others earlier this month that have seen thousands of people take to the streets of central Belgrade. Several opposition parties have also lent their support to the cause and called for demonstrations to continue.
The earlier protests were sparked by illegal demolitions last month that were pushed through to make way for the contentious project.
0n 24 April, dozens of masked men blocked access to the area in the heart of the capital where the project will be built, stopped residents from entering, tied several people up and confiscated any phones they could find.
The men then bulldozed several buildings as hapless onlookers tried to call the police for help, only to find that no help came, according to eyewitnesses, security camera recordings and a report from Serbian ombudsman Sasa Jankovic.
The well-publicised incident prompted residents to once again say they have had enough, but public fury over the project runs deeper and has refused to dissipate.
Recent revelations in the Panama Papers linking Serbian policy-makers with UAE businessmen have fanned popular resentment at the UAE’s role in Serbia, which benefits the two countries’ political elites, but shortchanges Serbian taxpayers.
The waterfront project was announced in Cannes in March 2014, after a much-publicised meeting between Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. During the meeting, Vucic said, the crown prince issued personal guarantees that UAE companies would invest in Belgrade Waterfront and other projects.
Belgrade Waterfront was designed to be a joint venture between Eagle Hills, a UAE company, on the one hand and the Serbian government and Belgrade municipality on the other. It was announced that Eagle Hills would invest $3bn in the project.
thanks to maria for the link..
bit of unrest in scenic serbia..
“Demonstrators then marched to various state-controlled media outlets to protest a lack of critical coverage of the project that has raised major questions for the public over their country’s dealings with the UAE.”
you cant choose your family..but you can choose your friends..
“putting further scrutiny on what opponents say is a corrupt relationship between Belgrade and Abu Dhabi.”