President Ili Meta has called on the government to withdraw from the construction of hydropower plants on the Vjosa River.
He expressed his support for the position of environmental organisations including EcoAlbania, Riverwatch and EuroNatur that are campaigning for the entire Vjosa River valley to be declared as a National Park.
In September, Prime Minister Edi Rama announced that the government had declared the upper part of the Vjosa a National Park. But Meta raised the concerns that there is no protection status envisaged for middle and lower sections.
“This plan not only excludes the most valuable parts of the river system, but it also leaves unprotected the area in which the dams of Kalivac and Pocemi are foreseen. I reiterate the call to the Government to listen to the voice of the community, civil society, environmental activists, academia, universities, Albanian and EU personalities, and to withdraw from any project that envisages the construction of HPPs on the Vjosa River.”
When the Albanian government awarded a contract to build the Pocem plant in 2016, it did so in violation of EU rules and regulations. The Secretariat of the Energy Community sent a letter to the government to raise the issue. They noted that administrative procedures had not been followed properly, particularly in terms of environmental reports and public participation provisions.
In November, Leonardo DiCaprio spoke out in favour of the protection of the Vosa River from HPPs.
“The Vjosa River National Park would become Europe’s largest conservation site, covering several hundred kilometres of rivers and streams and protecting hundreds or even thousands of species such as the European eel, endangered globally, and the Vjosa butterfly which was recently discovered.
This would be a great achievement for Albania and the rest of Europe and the park could become a model for the Biodiversity Strategy within the framework of the Green Agreement. ”