Most important wetland area of eastern Adriatic coast still under imminent threat

The Solana Ulcinj is the most important breeding area on the east Adriatic coast. In the picture: Flamingos


Solana Ulcinj in Montenegro: large-scale corruption? ++ Montenegro’s public prosecutor’s office involved ++ Environmental Minister once again promises legal protection status ++ EuroNatur: serious doubts about Montenegro government’s political will


Press release, 11 April 2016

Radolfzell. “This is about much more than the protection of a crucial stopover site for migratory birds. There is every indication that the case of the Solana Ulcinj is a case of large-scale corruption”, Gabriel Schwaderer, CEO of international conservation organisation EuroNatur, comments on the situation. “EuroNatur has serious doubts about the reliability of Montenegro’s government. It failed to keep the promises to make the Solana Ulcinj a protected area. The Adriatic’s most important stepping stone for international bird migration is still under imminent threat of falling victim to mass tourism”, says Schwaderer.

At the second International Conference on the Protection of Ulcinj Solana on 7 April 2016 in Podgorica, which was also attended by the ambassadors of Germany, France, and the USA, as well as the head of the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, EuroNatur questioned the Montenegrin government’s political will to protect this wetland area.

The question of ownership is still unresolved. A final decision by Montenegro’s Council for Privatisation, chaired by Prime Minister Milo Djukanović, has so far been postponed. Nonetheless the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism declared the Solana Ulcinj a private property in the recent draft of the spatial development plan for the coastal area. This plan, which provides for massive building development for intensive tourism, was presented to the public in February 2016. Minister Branimir Gvozdenović has been heavily criticised for this move, as the salt flats are listed as state property in the publicly available land register documents of Ulcinj. According to this register, the former state-owned enterprise “Bajo Sekulic”, which has been privatised already in 2005, is entitled to use the land. However, the new owner “Eurofonds” is now claiming land property rights in addition to using the Salt Works. In turn, MANS, an NGO fighting corruption and organised crime in Montenegro, filed a lawsuit against Eurofond owner Veselin Barović. Barović is among nine persons charged for encumbering the Solana Ulcinj’s land with a total of seven mortgages.

This raises serious doubts about the reliability of Branimir Gvozdenović’s announcement at the second International Conference on the Protection of Ulcinj Solana in Podgorica: The minister reinforced that the wetland will receive legal protection status within the coming months. However, already at the first International Conference on the Protection of Ulcinj Solana in April 2015 the ministry had pledged itself to declare the Solana a Ramsar and Emerald site until June 2015 at the latest. National conservation rules were to follow until November 2015. The participants of the 2015 conference agreed on seven conclusions, committing to do their part for the conservation of the area. The Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism, which is responsible for nature protection, was represented by state secretary Daliborka Pejović. “None of it has been implemented so far. Currently all indications are that the Ulcinj Solana might be destroyed”, says Gabriel Schwaderer.

The Solana Ulcinj is an essential hub of international bird migration on the eastern Adriatic coast, comparable to what London-Heathrow is for European air traffic. But it’s also an internationally significant breeding area. Right now flamingos are beginning to breed. Therefore EuroNatur, together with Montenegrin nature conservation organisation CZIP, has been working for more than 15 years to protect the Solana Ulcinj. In his opening statement to the conference organised by CZIP, EuroNatur and the municipality Ulcinj, CZIP vice director Aleksandar Perović called on minister Gvozdenović to finally turn the words into deeds.

Background information:

  • European Union calls for protection of the Solana Ulcinj:
    Open letter by MEPs Terry Reintke and Anneliese Dodds of 6 April 2016 to the Montenegrin Government

    Opening remarks by Ambassador of the European Union to Montenegro, Mitja Drobnic, at the second International Conference on the Protection of Ulcinj Solana on 7 April 2016 in Podgorica
  • Legal assessment by NGO MANS on property rights in the Solana Ulcinj
  • More about the Ulcinj Solana

For further information, please contact: EuroNatur, Konstanzer Straße 22, 78315 Radolfzell, Tel.: +49/7732-9272-10, Fax: +49/7732 - 92 72 22, E-Mail: katharina.grund(at), press contact: Katharina Grund; contact person: Gabriel Schwaderer

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