Wave of protest against Balkan dam building frenzy

++ First ever international Action Weeks for Balkan Rivers ++ People took to the streets in many countries of the Balkan region ++ They protested against the destruction of the last wild river landscapes in Europe ++


Even the youngest residents fight for their rivers, here in North Macedonia © Front 21/42Radolfzell, Vienna. 18. July 2019 – From July 6 to 16, 2019 around 1000 people took part in protests in Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Greece against hydropower expansion on the Balkan rivers. With banners and posters, they walked through the centres of their capitals or gathered for full-throated protests along their rivers. Sometimes the demonstrators brought drinking water from their communities to draw attention to the threat hydropower expansion poses to their basis of life. The protests were organised by local partner organisations of the nature conservation organisations EuroNatur and Riverwatch, who jointly coordinate the ‘Save the Blue Heart of Europe’ campaign to protect the rivers in the Balkan.

On 6 July, the protests commenced with a rally in Tirana. © EcoAlbania In many affected communities in Serbia the message is omnipresent: “We give our life, but not our river” © Sanja Kljajic

“Thousands of people are affected by the projected dam tsunami in South-East Europe. They would lose their arable lands, their drinking water supply, and above all an essential part of their home countries. Nonetheless they don’t receive information about the projects and their complaints are being ignored by politicians. People are sick of it and increasingly take to the streets. Rightly so!” says Ulrich Eichelmann, CEO of Riverwatch. Read some of their heart-rendering stories HERE

Many rallies took place directly by affected rivers, as here in Montenegro by the Ribnica. © Greenhome In Deçan in Kosovo, the protesters symbolically buried their river on which Keloks, a subsidiary of the Austrian energy company Kelag, has been illegally building for years. ©Dini Begolli

The local residents, some of whom came from remote regions of their countries to attend the rallies, are determined to protect their rivers. “The action weeks also serve to make those affected by a project seen and heard, and to support them in their struggle against the hydropower lobby. The protesters’ determination shows that the battle for free-flowing rivers unites people”, says Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of EuroNatur.

On the Soča in Slovenia, people were also calling for removing existing dams and giving the river its freedom again. © Mitja Legat The penultimate stage of the action weeks for Balkan rivers in Bosnia-Herzegovina received a great deal of media coverage: Milos Orlic, who coordinated the event there, answered the journalists' questions. © Ulrich Eichelmann

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