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Danube Day - 29th June 2004…

10 Years Of Cooperation: Down The Drain - Thanks To The Ukraine?

In the struggle to preserve the biodiversity of the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve there are 3 key dates on the immediate horizon:

29 June - Danube Day
This marks the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Danube convention by its bordering states. The countries of the Danube basin (Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Serbia-Montenegro, Slovakia, Slovenia, Moldova, Romania and the Ukraine) have planned a series of events on the theme of the Danube ? bridge to the future.

The convention is to be held in Vienna and is mainly celebratory in nature, but the conservationists in the Ukraine will issue a press release on issue of the canal through the sensitive core area of the Biosphere Reserve. This will be supported by the WWF who have the floor during the opening ceremony ? representing all NGOs that have observer status - and will highlight the Bystroye canal project as one of the problems which will influence the future of the Danube during the next 10 years.8 July - Ukraine-EC summit in The Hague

At this meeting the neighbour agreement between the EU and the Ukraine will be discussed. The main short term aim of the Ukrainian conservationists is to lobby EU participants urging them to raise the matter of the Danube-Black Sea canal with the Ukrainian government. The Chairperson Chris Patten, EU Commissioner for External Relations, replied to a second letter from conservationists informing him of the situation and urging him to take appropriate action. He replied in June, stating that he was informed on the matter (good), that his colleagues Margot Wallstr?m (Environment Commissioner) and Margaret Day (EC Environment directorate) had both written to the Ukraine. Most importantly, he states that if the EC does not get a satisfactory answer to these letters soon, the issue will be discussed at the next EU-Ukraine summit. It appears the issue has now been mainstreamed at EU level. Continued lobbying of national EC representatives up to the meeting will undoubtedly help. The Ukraine will surely not be keen to jeopardize the economic and structural advantages that the successful conclusion of this neighbourhood agreement will bring.14 July - Danube Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bucharest

The Austrian Environment Minister has asked WWF Austria to brief him on the issue. Ukrainian conservationists will continue lobbying the Austrian delegation to raise the issue at the meeting so that the matter is not only raised as planned by Romania. It will hopefully then be treated more seriously by the Ukrainian delegation.

Support for the Ukrainian NGOs can be given by writing to the EU Commissioners and MEPs. A draft text is at http://www.proact-campaigns.net/ppsi/id55.html Send it off today!

David Conlin

4th July 2014