Wednesday, February 27, 2008
HANDS OFF, DAMN IT
I had a dream last night. Well, i have one probably most every night....but i don't always remember them and i more rarely write about them. Why is this occasion different? I'm not really sure to tell you the truth, maybe it will make sense by the time I blurt it out on the keyboard.
I very often engage in public debates with myself -- acting as both me and, let's say, Minister of Energy Vahid Heco. It's always quite civil when talking to oneself, perhaps that's why i prefer dreamtime debate rather butcher balkan dialog our 'leaders' are so well versed in.
I find it quite interesting how events of the previous day, things we see, read or smell, manage to sneak into our dreams. I am currently working on an environmental status report that the Swiss Embassy has sponsored. I have spoken to a lot of people, traveled the country to see first hand what IS - and what is NOT - going on. Of the many recommendations that i made (like BiH ratifying the Aarhus convention and the formation of an Environmental Protection Agency at the state level) was the dire need for this country to create an integrated strategy for development in all key sectors -- agriculture, tourism, energy, metal industry, protected areas, and whatever other relevant development 'changes' Bosnia has.
So in my dream I was at this conference that the Austrian government is organizing to promote their country's modern building and energy technologies (they really are hosting this conference in Sarajevo soon). I was sure that the Austrians organized this conference because of the big hoo-ha over the battle for monopolizing the energy sector in BiH.
It has been interesting to watch the media take sides over who are the good and bad guys in this electric tug-of-war. Avaz against Safa and Heco. Dani and Oslobodenje against Radoncic, Bicackic, and the Delta corporation from Serbia. They have all horribly missed the boat, completely ignoring the main point of all this mess. The main issue being that WE DON'T HAVE AN ENERGY STRATEGY, so how on God's good earth can we possibly even talk about flooding EVERY river in the country without a strategy, environmental impact assessment, modernisation of existing infrastructure and technologies. No one is asking SHOULD we build a dam on the Neretva or the Una, but WHO should build one on the Neretva and/or Una. They've conveniently managed to feed us a hot potato, keeping the real issues under the table and the somewhat irrelevant ones in our face - day and night.
So the Austrian companies, back in my dreamworld now, are going on and on about how wonderful their technologies are. How green. How advanced. How low impact. I was there, twitching in my seat. I couldn't hold it in any longer, I had to stand up and speak. So i did. It goes a little like this:
"We all appreciate you coming here and showcasing modern and green technological developments of Austrian companies. We also know why you are here. Austria, well aware of the rich resources this country possesses from your 25 year occupation of some hundred years ago, is bent on having a piece of it back. We know APET and many other companies have already divied up the booty in Bosnia. You've found your local 'partners' who have assured you they can 'work things out, ne sekiraj.' Are you aware, sir, that - for example - ZE-DO Canton had already agreed on the borders of a new Tajan Nature Park in Zavidovici? That Canton had already dished out illegal concessions on the water protected area within the proposed boundaries of the park to an Austrian company in partnership with Edhem Bicackic. The local community of Zavidovici spoke up against this and held a public debate. The results of this public debate were NO DAMS in the park. Full stop. The people spoke.
Did you know, sir, that only a few weeks after this rejection at both the municipal and cantonal level for the construction of an Austrian mini-dam, that the borders of the Tajan Nature Park were mysteriously changed. And, I'm sure you'll be astonished to learn, the new boundaries skirt around all the proposed mini-dams that your beloved Austrian company would like to build. Would that be possible in Austria, sir? Would the government blatantly ignore the will of the people and the decision of the regional parliament in Austria? We all know the answer to that, sir.
So my question is, what would the Austrian public feel about an super aggressive policy of Austrian companies - who all work with the highest level of criminals this country has ever produced - damming this entire country AGAINST the general will of the people? AGAINST all European Union regulations? AGAINST the Aarhus Convention? AGAINST any rule of law? AGAINST any shred of decency and morality?
Mind you, sir, the occupation (the Austrian one, i should clarify) did, in fact, end almost 100 years ago. The fact is, sir, that not one dam could be built in Austria without a comprehensive strategy. NOT ONE dam could be built in Austria without an environmental impact assessment that is independently approved. NOT ONE dam in Austria could be built if the people were against it.
Why then do you come here with your double standards fully knowing that this government is inherently corrupt. Why push European principles on us if the very core of new European principles are being completely ignored. Water is our Oil. Water is our future. Our life. We don't want to destroy it all, especially to give you cheap electricity.
Yes, sir, we do need to expand our energy capacity. And yes, sir, their is great potential for this country to develop its energy potential and create jobs. But this must be a process. What we are asking for is simple: Obey the laws of this land. Respect the will of its people. Insist that our government conduct a democratic and transparent process. Understand that although the prostitutes are giving our natural resources to the highest bidder, they do rightfully belong to the people of this country.
If you are so keen on our electricity then help us with your green technology to build solar energy fields in Herzegovina. To build more wind turbines in Livanjsko and Kupresko Polje. To modernise the country's existing infrastructure. To help us create an alternative sustainable energy strategy. To help us conduct a lawful and scientific impact assessment.
Until you do that, sir, or at least WE do it...
PLEASE KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OF OUR RIVERS.
Well, that's how my dream ended. A brave speech in my sleep. I woke up with butterflies in my stomach. I have them in my stomach now. I honestly believe that the monopoly of this country's natural resources by a few political parties is by far the biggest prevara since the Dayton Accords. Save the Neretva. Save the Una. Save ourselves.