Vjosa is also loved in Selenica

A report by Ben Andoni/ JAVA Magazine

For the sake of truth, Vjosa is not wild at all in Selenica. It flows lazily and quite loosely. Inerts line one of its shores, where a large garbage platform is growing from their accumulation. Until then, in the Albanian center where bitumen has been extracted for centuries, you have to go through the city and manoeuvre on potholed roads towards it. Asphalt has not had good relations with the city for decades! And it is unlikely for later. Somewhere, in the artificial dunes of the dumps, a pig herder calmly grazes his creatures, which feed as if on a pile of garbage, right among the inerts. The modern Albanian variant of Ulysses to Tears. But our character, their shepherd, has become comfortable with his wife and opposes them from afar, feeding stagnantly. They are dressed as Albanian shepherds. Sportswear mixed with traditional ones. The couple feeds on them, when the poor creatures (they will soon end up in the knife) with the garbage of the citizens. The circle of life here is obvious.

Vjosa river in Selenice. (c) JAVA Magazine

A kilometer further on, or maybe less, I find Ilia Bombay again, almost unchanged. He is no longer the mayor of the municipality, but a teacher. A few meters from his house, when we leave the center of Selenica, in a huge club, the next activity for the defense of Vjosa will take place. As usual the people of EcoAlbania: Vera Bekteshi; Olsi Nika; Besiana Guri; a Teresa, which is of the organisms that deal with the protection of rivers; and definitely the “strong” Ulrich Eichelmann have managed to gather with the community again. This time too, it is not the mayor. His deputy shows Vjosa in a low voice and with a pathetic speech. The compatriots chat, while the young people laugh one after the other with a persuasive voice. It is really gallant, but the people of EcoAlbania have no time to waste. They calm things down. They tell them about the “Save the Blue Heart of Europe” campaign, how it is spreading in the Balkans. Vera Bekteshi elegantly explains the importance and destiny of being in this country, even though some people want the country to turn into a National Park tomorrow. Olsi puts his feet on the ground: Look where you are and what you have! From the image reflected on a screen, the fish of Vjosa, the beauties of the area and its importance are projected. There are a total of 69 species of fish here, which are not found anywhere else on the planet, he tells them. Here lives an extraordinary variety of trout, the greatest predator of mountain rivers; Huchen (Danube salmon, reaching up to 1.8 meters), which has its center in these rivers. It is an extraordinary treasure for the region. It is a natural treasure, but it can also be an ecological resource. There are noises, trumpets, but also admiration. There is foreign media at the meeting, which makes people feel valued twice. This is the moment of Ulrich, who explains to the inhabitants from the beginning how the rivers of the Balkans are in good natural condition and because their fellow citizens are jealous. He caught the phone of the people of Seleni, who feel important. He tells them the case of Austria and how he and his colleagues managed to turn a threatened country into a National Park. And the benefits! Hmm, and why Vjosa? – some residents ask quietly. In the case of Albania, our campaign focuses on the Vjosa River, which together with its tributaries, presents an almost natural river network and a unique ecosystem. Eight HPPs are planned to be built along Vjosa, which currently pose the greatest threat to this ecosystem. The construction of dams would ultimately destroy the ecological integrity of this natural river environment and the future of the entire valley. There is calm. Ilia Bombaj sees his students from time to time. The residents are silent. Who knows how many times Ulrich has repeated these words. Then with his athletic body he stands… The pause does its job.

EcoAlbania ends the activity with cheers and this best brings out the features of the area’s ethnicity. It doesn’t matter that much, as Baldaçi saw, because the poor are peaceful, but they end it with cheers. Lab features predominate. Do you think they will be so ready that Vjosa will not be touched? I find it a little hard to believe. Until now, Selenica has all its fame from the bitumen that is extracted almost to the surface and is continuously accumulated in large deposits around the village-town. We have come across two such. They even add gloom, which the sun softens. However, the place that was once mentioned since the time of the most prominent historians of Antiquity: Strabo, Vitruvius, Aristotle, Pliny, Aelian, Dian Caso, Plutarch, lives its urban aging.

You can read the full report, published in JAVA magazine, here

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