COVID-19 does not stop “Friends of Vjosa”: New steps to say “no” to HPPs

Despite the blockade caused by COVID-19, professors, journalists, tour operators and environmentalists came together to propose the next steps to stop the government’s plans to build hydropower plants on the Vjosa River.

Through an online meeting held on May 7, “Friends of Vjosa” pointed out that the new coronavirus did not prevent the company that won the concession of HEC Kalivaç from advancing with the procedures of obtaining an environmental permit, so they decided to intensify the campaign to say “no” to the construction of dams on Europe’s last wild river.

Prof. Aleko Miho, a lecturer at the Faculty of Natural Sciences, emphasized the petition with 776 signatures from scientists from different European countries. “After we submitted the petition to the President of the Republic, we planned a roundtable that would bring together all decision-making actors to confront the high natural values   that this extraordinary river represents,” said Prof. Miho. “The virus situation has pushed this roundtable later in time, but the scientific community will not back down to oppose this ‘drunk giant,’” he added, referring to Prime Minister Edi Rama.

The representatives of EcoAlbania, presented the Solar in Kutë campaign – EcoAlbania’s initiative to support the community of the village of Kuta in the battle against the Poçemi hydropower plant. The start of which has also been postponed due to the pandemic situation, but will be made public soon on online platforms.

During the online meeting. (c) EcoAlbania

The head of the Albanian Tour Operators Association, Rexhep Kasmi, guaranteed the support of the association he represents, emphasizing the need to unite all contributions. He also said that the petition of scientists should be further amplified in order to have maximum effect. “Also, we need a frontal ‘war’ in the media, with facts and the reflection of all resources as well as with international institutions,” said Kasmi. “Even the procedure for declaring a protected area needs to be deepened,” he added, stressing the high value of tourism development along the Vjosa Valley.

Meanwhile, well-known journalist Ben Andoni proposed the development of a public debate with the Prime Minister, whom he described as the only person who makes decisions. “It takes a confrontation to confront the facts, the values   of the Vjosa and to address the future of this river,” Andoni said.

Efforts of Vjosa’s friends group to protect the last wild river in Europe will continue, supporting the vision of declaring the Vjosa Valley National Park.

The meetings of the friends of Vjosa are periodic meetings aimed at protecting the last wild river in Europe. To join the next meetings you can contact us at: [email protected]