A years-long dispute over plans to construct a hydroelectric power plant on an ecologically sensitive and stunning stretch of river between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro now looks set to head to the UN.
This comes after NGOs filed a complaint, while Montenegro suggested the country wished to seek an independent review.
NGOs and environmental associations believe the planned Buk Bijela Hydroelectric Power Plant on the Drina River will threaten the protected Tara Canyon in Montenegro, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List and is part of the Durmitor National Park, as well as put rare and endangered wildlife such as the Danube salmon at risk.
Hydropower developers, however, see wasted electric potential flowing down the river. Officials from Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity Republika Srpska argue the 196 million euro project would bring much needed investment and jobs to the region, one of the poorest in Europe.
In a further twist, the RS is seeking Chinese finance for the project in a move that would extend China’s financial reach further into Western Balkans, where it is already the largest foreign investor after a massive increase in investment activity in recent years.