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Bojana Novakovic: Stopping Rio Tinto in Serbia is ‘a Fight for Survival’

From a young age, she says, her worldview had been linked with “the injustices of the global system”, but the year 2017 and Donald Trump’s election as President of United States was a turning point for her when she became more active.

“When he won the election, I was like: ‘How is this possible, what world are we are living in?’ That pushed me more to learn about the history and systematic construction of the ‘westworld’ – about colonialism and the corporate – not political – system in the US,” she explains.

Asked why she dislikes Rio Tinto so much, she says that “wherever they go, there make problems for local people”, adding that she has worked with some Australian Aborigines who were victims of Rio Tinto misconduct in 2020.

“Also, to be clear, the lithium itself does not solve anything. Lithium will not create an electric car and for batteries you need cobalt … which comes from Congo, and we all know what is going on there,” she says.

“We do not want lithium mined in Serbia, we want those villages to remain green areas with fertile land, where food can be grown and where there are hundreds of species of animals, as there are right now,” Novakovic told BIRN.

According to Novakovic, industry needs to adapt and adjust to already existing resources and create a sustainable system of resource extraction.

“The solution is not to save the car industry, but green surfaces and biodiversity. The idea of ​​mining a green area and calling it ‘green transition’ is absurd; it is crystal clear that profits are behind it all,” she insists.

Asked how her activism has affected her acting career, she says that it is tough, but that she was always like this, often refusing roles that could have made her wildly rich and famous.

“My father tried to teach me how to enter more commercial world and make healthier decisions for my career but I never make many compromises. Now I would make them, but I am too old for it,” she says, laughing, adding that she once refused a role in a sci-fi movie with Bruce Willis because the director wanted her to be naked.

Asked whether she thinks the campaigners will tire of the battle, since many powerful actors support the Rio Tinto Serbia project, she says no.

“The Governing [Serbian Progressive] party led by President Aleksandar Vucic} is putting a lot of pressure on us. Vucic is a neo-liberal, the nationalistic stuff is just a pose for voters, and he is ready to sell everything. The company [Rio Tinto] has a lot of money and they are very good at their jobs and creating anxiety – but that will not scare us,” Novakovic told BIRN.

“They are very patient – ​​but so are we,” she concluded.

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