Dojran Lake - first meeting of the ad hoc working group, 17 April 2002
Dojran is shared between Greece and FYR Macedonia, and in the past few years it has suffered a significant fall in the water level, coupled with increased pollution concentration due to the reduced water volume and increased agricultural run off. Under the initiative of MedWet, supported by the Greek Biotope/Wetland Centre (EKBY) and Skopje office of the Germany's aid agency, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ), a first meeting was held on 11 and 12 December 2001, hosted by EKBY in Thessaloniki and chaired by MedWet.
This meeting was the first effort to bring together the two sides in order to seek a common approach for solving a problem which has significant implications on the natural characteristics, but also the socio-economic web of the communities bordering the lake from the two sides.
During the first meeting it was decided that an ad hoc committee would be established to follow up this positive first step. The committee was set up by nominating three representatives from each country at Ministry, regional, and local level. The secretariat / facilitation was undertaken jointly by MedWet, EKBY, and GTZ.
This time, in the first meeting of the ad hoc committe on 17 April, the issues that were discussed included:
- Exchange of information, with the most important being the plan that is put in implementation by FYR Macedonia for the replenishment of Dojran by transferring water from the Gjavato region (some 20 km away), a plan for which some reservations were expressed, but as was underlined by the country representaties, it has been prceeded by hydrological studies and will constitute a temporary solution. There is also a longer term plan to bring additional water resources from an Axios/Vardar river tributary further away. Greece informed the meeting about the planned agricultural restructuring in the area, to be funded by the EU Structural Funds in order to replace the current production (mainly maize) with other less water-demanding crops and install water-saving irrigation methods.
- A proposal from the FYR Macedonia for the two countries to jointly list Dojran as a Ramsar site, which was strongly supported by all sides and will be communicated as a recommendation to the respective Ministries.
- A proposal also from the FYR Macedonia side for an initiative to have a joint declararation at a high level (ideally Prime Ministerial following the Prespa example) for the need to protect the lake and promote its sustainable development.
- Adoption of a joint workplan for the Committee, including short and medium/long term measures.
Following this meeting (which was preceded by a very positive visit of the Greek Minister for the Makedonia-Thrace region to Skopje), a visit of the FYR Macedonian Minster for the environment Mr Dzabirski to his Greek counterpart Ms Papandreou took place. The next meeting of the ad hoc Committe is planned for early-mid June. It will concentrate on the institutional set up of the committee itself (adopt terms of references, etc.), and approve the workplan, and commence a search for resources for its implementation.