PM did not expect so much resistance to "modernization"

Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on Tuesday in parliament presented a draft special law ("lex specialis") that would regulate the Belgrade Waterfront project.

Source: B92, Tanjug

He told MPs that "many governments before this one" spoke about the capital's "descent to its rivers," while his cabinet was "at last able to make it happen."

Vucic specified that the entire project will be finalized "in 15 years," but stressed that Belgrade will as soon as in three or four years have "a much prettier face."

Works to build two residential towers are planned for this summer, he continued, "while work will be done in parallel on the Belgrade Tower, a shopping mall and a hotel." Designs for these are expected on May 2016, while construction should begin in the summer of that year, he said.

Vucic said that the design and construction of the Belgrade Waterfront "should include as many Serbian companies as possible, as well as distinguished architects, urban planners, and get the building material in Serbia - for example, steel from Smederevo's Zelezara"

"That will be a condition that will be in the contract as well and that will be respected in agreement with the Arab investor," he was quoted as saying.

The prime minister promised that "the state and the people will both gain from the project," while the money "will not go to tycoon pockets."

Vucic explained that 179 out of 246 buildings slated for removal have so far been removed from the area of the future Belgrade Waterfront, and that RSD 51 million was spent to compensate 86 families that also had to leave. He said this decision was in line with the Constitution, but that the citizens in question "had the right to appeal it, even before the Constitutional Court."

The city has provided RSD 130 million to remove the structures, while a total of EUR 880 million will be needed for expropriation in the first phase of the project, he said.

Speaking about historical statements of intention to build up the riverside in Serbia's capital, Vucic said it dated back to "Prince Milos," but that "while aspirations and intentions were shared in that sense, the most important thing was to secure the money, which has only been done now."

"I did not expect so much resistance to modernization, progress, something that's most beautiful that we could not afford, but have now secured the money for. We can talk about everything, the most important thing is whether you have the money for a project, or not," said he.

The prime minister then spoke in great detail about big infrastructure project around the world and in Serbia that "met with great resistance and misunderstandings" in the past.

The parliament sitting dedicated to the draft lex specialis continued on Tuesday afternoon in Belgrade.

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