Saturday, August 26, 2006

Urgent Intervention Needed to Preserve Ohrid Lake Values

Representatives of five environmentalist organizations, “Krste Jon", „Areal", „Enhalon" and „Green Centre" from Struga, together with the Macedonian Green Centre from Skopje, addressed the President, Government and the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia in an open letter, to express their concern over the activities that the local authorities in the city of Struga have undertaken along the coastline of the Ohrid Lake, directly endangering the coastal zone.

The letter emphasizes the need for responsibility and demands urgent action to protect the Ohrid Lake, in accordance with the existing legislation on protection of national heritage, as well as the obligations resulting from the international conventions, such as the UNESCO’s convention on protection of global natural heritage.

The organizations reacted to the mass use of concessions to use the coast line for activities contrary to the existing legislation and present direct danger in terms of pollution of the Lake waters. Also, the coast line is paved in stone to create artificial beaches in places characterized by specific habitats.

The organizations also dispute the decision of the Struga Municipal Council to construct a free-way along the coast line, i.e. reconstruction and reopening of the old Ohrid Struga road, as well as the reopening for traffic of the old section of road EuroHotel-Sateska bridge, which was used for more than 20 years as pedestrian exclusive zone.

According to the initiative, the most important danger presented by these activities is the fact that they gradually reduce and contributes to extinction of the unique values of the lake, leading, unavoidably, to it being removed from the UNESCO Global List of Natural and Cultural Heritage.

The organizations emphasize that they do not intend to minimize the efforts of the local authorities to improve the living and development conditions in Struga, but do emphasize the need to respect the national legislation. This is crucial in municipalities that cover protected areas within their territory, such as Ohrid and Struga.

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