Brussels, 15 February 2000 - The European Commission decided in its meeting of today to extend the programme "Energy for Democracy" to five additional cities run by the opposition in Serbia and to allocate additional funds for deliveries to Nis and Pirot, already benefiting from a pilot project.
The pilot programme(1) should provide about 15-17,000 tonnes of heating oil to both municipalities and is - despite initial difficulties and high risks (e.g. blocking of border crossings) - running well. Deliveries are now being made both by trucks and trains and some 5,500 tonnes have reached their destination by last week. In view of the important positive political impact that the programme has had, in particular the unanimous request made by opposition forces, the General Affairs Council of 24 January 2000 has asked the Commission to extend the programme "Energy for Democracy".
The Commission has decided today:
- to extend the program in order to address the shortage of heating oil to Nis and Pirot, due to the increase of oil prices in the international markets and increased transport costs;
- to provide heating oil both to the heating plants and to public buildings (schools, kindergartens, hospitals, and public health and administration buildings) in the city of Kragujevac; and
- to provide heating oil to public buildings in the cities of Kraljevo, Novi Sad, Sombor and Subotica.
(1) See also MEMO/99/60, IP/99/907, MEMO/99/65.