On Wednesday, June 15th, 2022, MedINA’s partner on ‘Saving Europe’s last free-flowing river: Vjosa/Aoos’ project, ‘The Green Tank’, represented by Ms Ioli Christopoulou, talked to journalist Ms Alexia Tziona at ERT3’s O3 TV show on the Greek National TV.

The interview followed the recent visit of Greek Environment Minister Mr Kostas Skrekas to Tirana, Albania and his meeting with the Albanian Minister of Tourism and the Environment, Ms Mirela Kumbaro Furxhi:

We had a rather constructive discussion with the good colleague, Minister of Environment and Tourism, Ms Mirela Kumbaro. We talked about the things that unite us, such as our common love for the environment. We have the Aoos river, which connects the two countries. Aoos river is very important for the biodiversity of the area and has a major environmental value”, stated the Greek Minister, Mr Kostas Skrekas.
The Albanian Minister Ms Mirela Kumbaro Furxhi said: “Aoos river (Vjosa in Albanian) is a chain which, although is interrupted by administrative borders, its flow is not disrupted. The Aoos river is mostly a bridge rather than a river for the two countries and is ideal for the development of common projects for its protection. A while ago we declared it a protected area in Albania (Nature Park) from the borders (with Greece) towards its delta at the edge of the sea. A river is not interrupted by the borders. A river is protected by the common will of the two countries”.

Το MedINA δραστηριοποιείται στην λεκάνη απορροής του ποταμού Αώου από το 2012, μέσω της ανάπτυξης του Οικομουσείου του Ποταμού Αώου.
Vjosa / Aoos Ecomuseum

Ms Ioli Christopoulou mentioned the most recent developments regarding the protection of the river in Greece and Albania and highlighted that the current momentum should be examined by the two governments in depth to identify the advantages of the transboundary cooperation and the creation of the first transnational wild river park in Europe:

Today, we are most probably in front of a new possibility. The initiatives taken in Albania are very important. We have a political commitment for the establishment of a National Park which was first declared as a Nature Park. The Nature Park is not offering sufficient protection, since although is a first step towards the protection of the river, the threats, and more specifically the construction of hydropower plants are not eliminated. Two days ago (on June 13th, 2022), again in Albania, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Albanian Government and the company of Patagonia was signed. The MoU contains the commitment of the Albanian Government to declare the river as a National Park”, said for Albania, while regarding the developments in Greece mentioned: “The Northern Pindos National Park protects a big part of the river in Greece. However, there is a zone, which also includes Aoos tributaries, that is not protected. Greek Environment Minister’s statement is positive, since it seems that the topic was raised and discussed and thus, we might also have here in Greece this complementary protection. Well, if the steps in Albania and the steps in Greece are completed, then we will have the establishment of the first transboundary wild river park in Europe”.