After almost six years, on May 23rd, the arbitration court rejected the compensation request of the investor Razvoj golf in which the company claimed compensation from the Republic of Croatia for the condoisation of Srđ in Dubrovnik.
“For over 10 years, we have been devotedly, argumentatively and thoroughly dealing with this imposed project. We believe that it was our argumentation, which clarified the background and context of the decision on the Srđ project, that was crucial for the arbitration court to reject the investor's request for an enormous compensation", stated Enes Ćerimagić, FoE Croatia’s lawyer, at today's press conference in Dubrovnik.
According to media reports, he company claimed an incredible $500 million, which was about 2.4 percent of Croatia’s GDP at the time the arbitration claim was filed. “Now is a good time, when Dubrovnik's General Urban Plan is being changed, to implement the will of the citizens shown at the referendum in 2013, and delete accommodation capacities from the area for sports and recreation on Srđ”, said Đuro Capor, long-time coordinator of the initiative Srđ is ours and councilor of Srđ is a City in the City Council of the City of Dubrovnik.
Since 2006, local associations have opposed the Srđ apartment building project. In 2010, in cooperation with the national associations Zelena akcija/FoE Croatia and Right To The City, they founded the civic initiative Srđ is ours. From the beginning, this initiative has argued against the imposition of the megalomaniacal project of condoisation of Srđ under the guise of a golf project.
In 2013, the initiative successfully collected signatures for the first local referendum at the request of citizens, in which 85 percent of Dubrovnik’s residents, who went to the referendum, voted against the project. “Regardless, due to the coupling of politics and investors, the necessary permits were issued for the project, despite a series of illegalities. Srđ is ours and FoE Croatia, with the support of the professional Association of Croatian Architects, disputed these permits in court in 2016 as illegal”, Capor explained.
Dissatisfied with such an outcome, the investor Razvoj golf, through its Dutch subsidiary Elitech, sued Croatia, claiming that their licenses were arbitrarily revoked. At its request, Zelena akcija joined the arbitration proceedings in the capacity of the so-called amicus curiae (friend of the court). In this procedure, FoE Croatia clarified the European and Croatian legal framework to the court, as well as the procedure before the Croatian courts, on the basis of which it was decided that the permits issued for the project on Srđ were illegal.
Because of their campaign, the investor has been prosecuting FoE Croatia and the responsible persons in the association for years. “Through court proceedings and consequent costs, Razvoj golf tries to make our work more difficult because we have to defend our right, everyone's right, to freedom of criticism. There are currently two court proceedings against us”, Ćerimagić added.
He believes that, 10 years after the referendum, it is clear to even the last skeptics how disastrous this project would be for Dubrovnik in the context of climate change. “Consequences of climate change, which were only an abstract concept for most people at the time, have unfortunately become part of our everyday life. With projects like this, that everyday life would be much worse”, Ćerimagić said.
Capor added that this victory is a great opportunity for Mayor Franković and his coalition partners, former members of the so-called Dubrovnik agreement - the unprincipled coalition that made the project on Srđ possible - to distance themselves from harmful policies that illegally ensured a 15-fold increase in the value of the project to land brokers on Srđ. “I would like to congratulate all citizens who did not allow themselves to be intimidated by threats and lawsuits and who clearly stated at the referendum what they wanted on Srđ. And I would like to emphasise that this is a victory for both the city hall and the councilors of Srđ is a City, who fought for years in the City Hall and outside of it to ensure that the will of the citizens stated with the referendum is respected”, Capor concluded.
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