First meeting of the Prespa Park Coordination Committee, February 2001
Prespa Park Coordination Committee meets in Skopje
At the invitation of the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning of the FYR of Macedonia, the Coordination Committee of the Prespa Park, composed of three times three representatives of Albania, Greece and the Republic of Macedonia (representing the environment ministries, local authorities and NGOs) held its first meeting in Skopje on 30-31 January 2001. Observers from the Convention on Wetlands, from donor organisations and from NGOs participated as well. Environment Minister Marjan Dodovski opened the meeting, which was very efficiently chaired by his Assistant Minister Metodija Dimovski.
Greater Lake Prespa, World Wetlands Day 2000 (Photo: Delmar Blasco / Ramsar)
The Committee adopted operational agreements and an ambitious work plan, including the preparation of a project concept on integrated ecosystem and natural resources management for the Prespa lakes region, to be submitted to the GEF secretariat, hopefully already in spring 2001. A trilateral secretariat was established, with a NGO member in each of the countries, that will develop over the coming twelve months a Strategical Action Plan for the sustainable development of the Prespa Park, thanks to initial financial support from the Greek Ministry of Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works.
Observers from the German Bank for Reconstruction (KfW), already heavily involved in environmental projects in the Ohrid-Prespa region in Albania and Macedonia, from UNDP, REC and other organisations showed serious interest in getting more involved in future projects, technically or financially. It was stressed that it was crucial to coordinate parallel ongoing activities in the Prespa region. A project proposal for coordinated water management, submitted to the REReP programme of the Balkans Stability Pact, will be reviewed shortly by the Committee. A report was presented by OCSE, on its support for cross-border cooperation activities. Finally, it was rather disturbing to hear that the programme implementation unit of the European Union's Phare programme in Skopje has ideas to construct a road right through the marshes in the centre of Macedonia's only Ramsar Site.
This first meeting of the Coordination Committee was held in a frank and open way, addressing the wise use of the shared resources in the Prespa region from different angles. The participants will work hard to establish the Committee firmly as a trilateral coordinating body and are looking forward to the second meeting to take place in the village Germanos on the Greek side of the Prespa lakes, on 24-25 September 2001.
-- reported by Tobias Salathé, Ramsar Convention Bureau