International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

United Group: No reaction from authorities to Telekom-Telenor deal

February 22, 2021

United Group said on Monday no Serbian state institution has reacted to Telekom Serbia’s plans to collaborate with Telenor and to throttle the N1 and Nova S TV stations and destroy the SBB cable services company, a month after N1 journlists revealed those plans.

“The prosecution is not interested in the intention to destroy a competitor on the market and there are no indications that it will launch any kind of proceedings within its jurisdiction or investigate the disclosed documents and what’s behind the Telekom-Telenor cooperation,” a statement said.

“Institutions whose job it is to investigate evidence and illegal actions are conspicuously silent while the top state officials defend Telekom, amnestying it with claims of internal documents and inappropriate language.

“Using those claims, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic publicly defended the Telekom-Telenor cartel as well as Telekom CEO Vladimir Lucic who signed the official documents on the elimination of SBB and throttling of N1 and Nova S,” it said.

United Group called all Serbian state institution employees to say if they “decided not to do the job that the people of Serbia pay them to do because the president passed judgment on their behalf”.

“Has the prosecution kept quiet for a month because President Vucic decided that Telekom should not be blamed for wanting to survive on the market? Are the police and security services not doing what is in their jurisdiction because they are more interested in investigating how the scandalous documents leaked from Telekom than in the deal aimed at destroying the competition,” United Group said.

It said that “the Ministry of Culture and Information is not interested in the fact that the goal of the agreement is to establish media content domination for the state operator who should not even have any media according to media regulations and despite the fact that every monopoly in information providing is forbidden”.

“Why doesn’t the Serbian government, headed by (Prime Minister) Ana Brnabic who hands out public money for the opening of every new job, have a problem with the goals of the state-controlled Telekom to work with Telenor to destroy a company with 2,700 employees that has invested EUR 900 million and plans to invest another EUR 240 million over the next three years,” United Group said.

The statement noted that the Competition Protection Commission was the only institution to speak up “but it limited the cooperation with clear anti-competition goals and potentially significant anti-competition effects to simple administrative and bureaucratic approval for exemption from the restrictive agreement as if it saw nothing disputable in the intention to destroy a competitor while at the same time prejudicing the outcome of the proceedings”.

“We are publicly asking every competent institution in Serbia why they are ignoring the intention to destroy one of the biggest foreign investors in Serbia, the United Group? Is this a ban on launching proceedings because Telekom and Telenor have the full support of the authorities and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic?”

United Group said that it wants to “inform all the citizens of Serbia that the obvious evidence of the destruction of the N1 and Nova S media outlets and the SBB company have not given cause to institutions to do their jobs for a month”.

“We have informed all competent institutions in the European Union about the pressure from the authorities and Aleksandar Vucic personally to cover up the Telekom-Telenor affair and not investigate it, convinced that there can be no country in today’s Europe in which laws do not apply if the president says so,” the United Group said.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/united-group-no-reaction-from-authorities-to-telekom-telenor-deal/

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