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 ++

protest on Soča in Slovenia

On the Soča in Slovenia, the river protectors were calling for removing existing dams and giving the river its freedom again.

© Mitja Legat
protest against hydropower in Deçan in Kosovo

In Deçan in Kosovo, the protesters symbolically buried their river on which the energy company Keloks has been illegally building for years.

© Dini Begolli

In many affected communes in Serbia the message is omnipresent: “We give our life, but not our river!”

© Sanja Kljajic

Radolfzell, Vienna. From 6 to 16 July 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 demonstrations 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 Balkan rivers.

“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.

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, Executive Director of EuroNatur.

Background information:

  • Campaign to save the Balkan rivers: Around 3000 new hydropower plants are currently planned or under construction between Slovenia and Albania. The nature conservation organisations EuroNatur and Riverwatch as well as local partners in the Balkan countries run the campaign ‘Save the Blue Heart of Europe’ to counter this wave of destruction.
  • Find more information on the action weeks as well as the stories of dam-affected people.

Contact information:
Anja Arning, EuroNatur, anja.arning(at)euronatur.org, Tel.: +49 7732 92 72 13
Ulrich Eichelmann, Riverwatch, ulrich.eichelmann(at)riverwatch.eu, Tel.: +43 676 66 21 512

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